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Buying a Property

Bordeaux & Beyond’s extensive experience of the property market in the South West of France enables us to identify your perfect property match. And thanks to our comprehensive service to buyers, we will make sure your property purchase runs smoothly, taking care of every last detail.

We will:

  • Discuss your requirements in detail prior to your visit.
  • Provide a selection of high quality properties that match your requirements.
  • Answer any questions that you have on individual properties.
  • Keep you up to date with all new properties.
  • Recommend accommodation in your chosen area during your visit.
  • Maximise the number of suitable properties you visit during your time.
  • Guide you through the negotiation and buying process.

If you are buying as a couple, with other family members or perhaps with friends it's good to have an understanding of what everyone's expectations are of your new home. You may not necessarily agree 100% with each other, but having an initial discussion now, will save you time later. We have put together some key points for consideration below.

What kind of property are you looking for?

The first stage in any property search is to try and establish what you are looking for. We have put together a number of questions for you to ask yourself to help you make this decision:

  • In the countryside, or in a village, town, city, on the coast or in a ski resort?
  • How far away do you want to be from amenities like bars, shops, restaurants, and local markets?
  • How far away do you want to be from the airport(s)?
  • What else needs to be in the area? Work schools, entertainment, gym, etc.?
  • Once you know this you can be more specific – what type of property do you want?
  • How many bathrooms do you need?
  • Do you want a garden?
  • A swimming pool?
  • Do you intend to rent the property out?

Once you have organised your initial thoughts bear in mind that a certain amount of flexibility may be required. Buyers often start off with a settled idea then fall in love with something quite different. This is part of the journey.

Swimming pool

What would make your perfect property?

  • What area/region?
  • What type of property – modern apartment, villa, village or town house, character home, farmhouse with outbuildings?
  • How big does it need to be? How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms?
  • Would you prefer an old house or something new?
  • Are you looking for a small garden or do you require land?
  • Is there scope to open a gîte or B&B business, if required?
Chateau grand jour

What are the key financial points to consider?

  • What is the total amount of money you have available to purchase a property?
  • If you require a mortgage to finance your purchase have you already contacted a bank to ascertain the maximum amount you can borrow? Please see our partners page for links to reputable multilingual lending institutions.
  • Have you given consideration to the Notarial fees and conveyancing costs which currently stand at 7.5% for the acquisition of a property in France?
  • Have you considered the implications of variations in the exchange rate on the purchase price of your property? Please see our partners page for links to reputable currency advisors.

The buying process varies from country to country and this may be the first time that you have bought a property in France. You can be reassured that the process is very straightforward and relatively simple, but there are key moments in any transaction that you should be prepared for. The milestones of buying a property in France are highlighted below.

Making Offers

Once you have visited with Bordeaux & Beyond and found the perfect property for you, we will provide you with all the relevant information including diagnostic reports, drainage dossiers and cadastral plan to allow you to make a considered offer. We will then guide and assist you through the negotiation.

Offer and acceptance

Once your offer has been accepted your agent will ask you to sign a letter of intention or a promesse d'achat. This is a document that is not legally binding, for the buyer, but it does engage the seller. The document will outline your details, the address and description of the property, the name of the owner and the price that you are prepared to pay. It will also specify if you are purchasing the property with cash or if you require a loan.

Instructing the Notaire

Your agent will collate the information necessary for the Notaire to draw up the compromis de vente or the sous seing privé. You will be requested to complete a form which provides your date and place of birth, full name, current address etc. You will also need to send a copy of your passport/identification card. This information along with the diagnostics report for the property, the drainage report and cadastral plan will be send to the Notaire.

Role of the Notaire

French law dictates that all property transactions MUST be overseen and quite literally rubber-stamped by a Notaire, who amongst other things draws up the title deeds.

A Notaire is a legally trained representative of the French government, and their role includes:

  • Checking that each party has full capacity, or the right either to sell the property or to purchase it.
  • Searches relating to the current title of the property, and checking there are no easements or restrictions that could reduce the value of the property or affect its usage.
  • Checking that no mortgage or charge exists over the property – and, if necessary, ensuring that existing mortgages and charges are repaid on completion.
  • Checking the situation with regard to planning and making sure searches do not reveal anything that could reduce the value of the property.
  • Buyers can choose which Notaire they’d like to oversee their property purchase, but usually one local to the property, or suggested by the vendor or Bordeaux & Beyond is ideal. It is important to note that the Notaire is completely independent in a transaction, and does not act for either seller or buyer.

Your notaire is also responsible for ensuring that you fully understand every part of the purchase process and the sales contracts. They have the authority to appoint an accredited translator to be present during the two signings. This will be at your charge and will be your opportunity to gain the necessary reassurance on your acquisition in France. The cost for this service may vary, but a guide price is 200€ per hour.

Notaire

Compromis de vente/sous seing privé

This is the first contract in the purchase process that is signed by all parties. The conditions of sale are all included in this document and it is legally binding on all parties. You may be unable to travel to France to sign this initial document, in which case you will be able to sign by procuration/power of attorney. The Notaire will insist that this document is signed in the presence of a solicitor/notary in the UK to authenticate your signature. The contract is usually valid for a period of three months unless otherwise stated.

Cooling off period

Once all parties have signed the compromis de vente there is a cooling off period of 10 days. During this time the buyer is able to withdraw from the purchase with no penalty.

Deposit

A deposit of 10% is usually required by the Notaire but it can vary with consent from all parties. A date will be set by the Notaire by which time they will need to receive the deposit. If you do not send the deposit the contract will be null and void.

Clause suspensive

These are a list of clauses that are inserted to protect the buyer. The most usual is to enable to buyer to obtain a mortgage, however there are others that relate to division of land or planning requirements. If a clause suspensive is not fulfilled then you are not obliged to buy the property.

Clause penale

As the compromis de vente is a legally binding document there are consequences if one party decides that they wish to withdraw after the cooling off period. If this is the case, there is a standard clause of 10% of the price that is payable to either party. However, both parties reserve the right to take their case to court in order to force the sale if they wish.

Acte authentique

This is the final contract which is signed on the day that the buyer takes ownership of the property. By this date the seller will need to have emptied the property of his possessions and the buyer will have to ensure that the funds are lodged with the Notaire. It is usual to visit the property prior to the final signing of the acte authentique to verify all is in order. If the seller is unable to attend the final signing they will be able to sign by procuration. However, if you are buying the property with a mortgage some banks require you to be present for the final signature.

Up until this point, your focus has been on finding and securing your new home. However, if this is the first time that you have owned a property in France, why not read our guide to owning a property in France. The guide will highlight a few of the responsibilities that you have as a new home owner in France.