Legalities of selling in France

Once you have agreed a selling price with a buyer, both parties must sign a contracting agreement at the office of your notaire. 

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Depending on the region of your property, this contract will either be an agreement to purchase (a sale subject to prior conditions), or a promise to sell, subject to financial guarantees. After this, you must wait a seven day ‘cooling off’ period before the payment will be made. 

Certain information must be included in this reservation agreement, with close attention paid to the containing information before signing. All aspects of the transaction must be raised between the parties, and set out in the terms agreed by both. These must include:

  • Identification of the property being sold, its description and dimensions, and any related costs, such as mortgages or decisions taken by the assembly of co-owners (where appropriate)
  • A statement of the presence or absence of asbestos and certificates relating to termites, lead, the prevention of technological or natural risks, gas installations, energy efficiencies.
  • The terms of the planned sale, the date on which the offer will elapse and the conditions for exercising the option to buy
  • The price and date of payments
  • The amount of security deposit or reservation indemnity
  • The date for taking possession
  • The latest date for signing the deed of sale
  • Any conditions precedent, such as obtaining of loans or building permits

The terms of the reservation agreement are subtle in nature, and the drafting of the agreement cannot be improvised. To avoid any mistakes when purchasing property, you should rely on a notaire, who will give you advice, draft the agreement and, on signature, perform all necessary formalities for the sale. The agreement is not costly, and a portion of its cost is deducted from the expenses of the final sale.
 
The notaire will verify the first and last names of the sellers and buyers and their place and date of birth through birth certificates. S/he must also verify the legal capacity of the parties, that each one is an adult, is not subject to court protection and is not in a PACS (French civil union). A copy of any marriage certificate must also be provided, as this determines whether the spouse can act alone or whether he/she requires the agreement of his/her partner – a person that has joint property rights with a spouse cannot sell a property subject to the joint estate without the spouse’s consent (even if there is a contractual separation of assets).
 
Once all formalities have been performed and the notaire has all documents necessary, he will propose a date to sign the deed of sale. Both the seller and the purchaser may be represented by a power of attorney, which can be a parent, friend or notaire’s clerk. Prior to signing, the notaire will read the deed of sale to you, and explain the meaning of its contents.

On the date of signing, the purchaser will give the notaire a cheque for the purchase price (less the reservation indemnity or security deposit) and costs relating to the purchase. The notaire shall give the purchaser a certification of sale, so that the purchaser is able to provide evidence of ownership. The notaire will then have to deliver the purchase price to the seller, once the deed of sale has been published at the mortgage registry and the costs due to the managing agent or financial institution or other have been deducted. 


Further reading for Selling In France

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Your selling options

It's a good idea to think about how you can best use an estate agency to your advantage.
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Top tips to help you sell your property

Selling a property in France can be a complicated process.
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Getting the right price

It’s important to make sure you are realistic about the price you will receive for your property.
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Legalities of selling in France

What are the key legal considerations to keep in mind while selling?
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When purchasing property legal hold-ups can be disastrous. You need to make extra sure that you have an English-speaking, impartial solicitor looking out for your best interests from the very start.
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