Once your offer on a property has been accepted by the vendor, the Notaire will complete the Compromis de Vente or Preliminary Sales Agreement. This written document is a binding agreement between the vendor and the buyer. Note, there is however a cooling off period of 7 days in which you can exercise your right to withdraw from the purchase agreement.
You will usually pay a deposit of 10% of the agreed price, although this can vary depending on how the parties agree and will be a mutual agreement between both parties. This money is yours and kept by the Notaire in his clients account (compte sequestre) this is a guarantee until the purchase is completed or cancelled.
It takes approximately twelve weeks for the Acte de Vente or Deed of Sale to be completed and ready for signature by both parties. As well as drafting the Acte de Vente, conducting planning and other searches and enquiries with the local authorities, the Notaire will also act on behalf of the lender and liase with the bank if a loan is being used for the purchase of the French property.
Signature is made at the Notaires's office, the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price (90%) and the legal fees (equivalent to stamp duty and approx. 7% of the property price) and taxes to the notaire. When all the extensive paperwork has been signed by both parties you will be handed the keys and become the new owner!
We can then help you change over the services into your name and set up direct debits with the appropriate companies so that you don't have the services cut off while you're away, we can also assist you in getting the house insured which is a legal requirement.
This is only a very brief guide to buying a French property but we will be with you through every set of the whole process.