First time buyers in France will receive a contract named "compromis de vente" from their estate agent or from the Notaire in charge of the conveyancing once their offer has been accepted. When the excitement of achieving their dream French property kicks in, buyers sometimes rush into signing their "compromis" without having understood its terms, which may cause issues at a later stage or after the buying process.
A "compromis" is always drafted in French, thus if your French is “poor”, why sign a contract you do not understand the terms of? This is where we can help you by checking your contract and explaining the terms, you can make an informed decision before the signature.
The "compromis" also tends to be often misread as a simple reservation contract to reserve a property with no serious legal implications. The "compromis" is to the contrary a legally binding contract which commits both parties into the purchase and sale. The non-professional buyer will always benefit from a 10-day cooling off period to change his mind from receipt of the countersigned "compromis", however once that cooling-off period has expired, any withdrawal from the purchase will incur the loss of his deposit and potential legal action from the seller to enforce the sale.
Please find hereby some of the essential points of your "compromis" that you would need to check prior the signature (non-exhaustive list):
- the description of the property you are purchasing;
- your personal details: full name, profession, marital status;
- the purchase price;
- the amount of deposit;
- list of furniture if the property is sold furnished;
- the mortgage get-out condition if your purchase is subject to a mortgage offer;
- other get-out conditions if you wish your purchase to be subjected to getting a planning permit (e.g. if you are buying a plot of land);
- substitution clause allowing you to change the purchase structure or assign the present contract to another buyer: this clause is essential if you are considering setting up a holding company type SCI or SARL between the signature of the "compromis" and completion;
- the technical diagnostics: these are surveys which will tell you how energy efficient your property is, the state of the electricity or gas installation, whether there are any asbestos or risk of lead poisoning, whether the property is located in an area subject to natural risks (flood, movement of grounds) or land pollution, whether the septic tank is in order (if property is not connected to the public sewage, whether the property has been infested by termites…
- the surface area of your property;
- the property management pack if you are buying an apartment: condominium regulations, the last 3-year general assembly meetings, statement of annual maintenance charges, sinking funds, building insurance…
As seen from above, there are a number of elements to check. With more than 10 year work experience in French property, we are here to help you to overcome the French legal process and the language barrier. As soon as you receive a draft copy of your "compromis", please contact us and we will get back to you within 2 to 5 working days depending on the urgency and the size of your contract. If there are any points we have flagged up during our review or if any information is missing, we can contact your estate agent or the Notaire on your behalf. We will offer you a friendly informed service, which will take the stress out of your French property transaction.
If you need to have your "compromis de vente" reviewed, please contact Loic Raboteau via email at email@example.com or tel on +44 (0) 20 7356 0833.