If you decide to purchase property in France, you will first want to determine the amount of money you can borrow. You can do this by either visiting one or more banks that lend to Non-Residents, VINGT Paris can recommend the best one, based on your profile – if you are Self-Employed, you will need help to craft your dossier – and it may be best to work with a Mortgage Broker, again, VINGT paris can help you with this. At the point of agreeing to the price, you should revisit the banks to determine the best deal for your mortgage.
After your budget is defined, start to visit properties and review listings to get a feel for the market in the area you are looking at.
Once you have decided on a particular property and have agreed a price with the seller, the actual process will involve three distinct stages: the pre-contract (promesse de vente), the deed of sale (acte de vente) and closing of the sale, and post-sale formalities.
The first two stages of the process generally take at least three months to complete. All of the formalities are prepared and signed in the presence of a French Notaire, who is the only person competent to draft and file property transfer documents. You can choose to have your own Notaire (VINGT Paris recommend this) or share a Notaire with the seller; in either case the total fee remains the same, and is percentage of the purchase price.
The promesse de vente us a holding agreement signed by both parties. As the buyer, you will probably be asked to pay a deposit at this stage (often 10%). You will also agree with the seller on a timescale for completing all the sale formalities. You then have a mandatory “cooling off” period of seven days if you wish to change your mind. Should you back out after this “cooling off” period, you will lose your deposit.
Between the signature of the promesse de vente and the final sale you will, if applicable, obtain your bank loan. At the same time, the Notaire will prepare the acte de vente. In order to do so, he must establish the origin of the house and ensure there are no outstanding mortgages or encumbrances on the property. He must also notify the local authorities of the intended sale (as it may decide to purchase the property for public purpose).
Once the acte de vente is prepared by the notaire you will have to meet in person with the seller and the notary to sign the document, after having been read the document aloud by the notary. The notary will then keep the original of the deed, which is the final sale contract.
After the sale contract is signed, the Notaire carries out all the financial and Fiscal administration, and deals with registering the property. The notary has two months to register the acte de vente with the land registry. It can take from a few weeks to several months for the registry to issue the new deeds for ownership to the property. In the meantime, the Notaire will supply you with a document (attestation) to prove that you are the new owner.