The Euromortgage Shop, Tuesday, 15 August 2017
There exists panoply of laws designed to protect individuals buying property in France,
providing them with safeguards when signing their preliminary contract or arranging the
necessary finance. Indeed, the very way in which a property transaction is organised by
French law tends to protect the buyer against all impulsive behaviour.
Rapid creation of contractual ties.
You've fallen in love with a superb flat overlooking the sea? You will be pleased to know
that as soon as the preliminary contract is signed, the vendor is committed to selling it to
you. This rapid creation of formal ties between the parties avoids a great many
It effectively means that you will not be “gazumped”, i.e. the property cannot be sold to
another buyer, even if he offers a higher price.
You are released from your obligation to buy the property, and therefore recover your deposit
(usually 10% of the purchase price paid when you sign the preliminary contract), if one of the
let-out clauses (clauses suspensive) included in the preliminary agreement is not fulfilled.
The omnipresence of the notaire.
A key player in all property transactions in France, the notaire is a professional you can
trust. In his capacity as a public official, he guarantees the legal integrity of the deed of sale
he prepares the various documents necessary to bring the transaction to a successful
he verifies the identity of the parties and their legal capacity to enter into a binding contract,
confirms the origin of the property and the existence of any easements (servitudes) such as
a right of way, along with any pre-emptive rights or prior mortgages remaining over the
The buying process – time to consider.
The house „in need of renovation” is certainly charming... but you realize, upon reflection,
that you have committed yourself a little too quickly:
you won't have the time or the money to carry out the necessary work. French law allows for
second thoughts: you enjoy a 7-day “cooling off” period to reconsider your decision. You are
also entitled to this period of reflection when buying property from plan.
10-day to think it over!
In France, the so-called Scrivener Act (July 13, 1979) provides systematic protection for
individuals taking out a property loan. It contains a number of provisions:
The loan offer is a regulated document, valid for 30 days (you have 30-day to
accept the offer, after this, the offer will remain valid for a period of 3-month), and must
include certain information: identity of the lender, borrower and any guarantees, the type
and conditions of the loan, the amount borrowed and interest charges, the taux effectif global
(the French equivalent of the APR).
To ensure you have sufficient time to study the terms of the loan, you have a
10-day period of reflection from the moment you receive the loan offer.
The lender cannot ask you to pay anything before you have accepted the offer.
The final deed of sale is subject to the prospective buyer's obtaining a mortgage enabling
him or her to purchase the property (a condition suspensive, or let-out clause). You
haven't been able to arrange a mortgage? The preliminary contract is deemed to be void and
your deposit will be refunded.
If you are buying the property outright, without taking out a loan, you should include a
written statement in the preliminary contract that you waive the rights granted by the
A complete diagnosis
To guarantee your peace of mind a large number of technical surveys are compulsory under
French law to protect the buyer of an existing property. The seller must have the building
checked for the presence of asbestos, lead (risk of lead-poisoning) and termites. Make sure
that the results of these surveys are available before signing the preliminary contract. If this is
not the case, demand the inclusion of a let-out clause. It should be remembered, however, that
one of the responsibilities of the notaire is to ensure that all these legal obligations have been
Know what you're buying!
Down to the nearest centimetre.
If you've decided to buy a flat in a jointly owned property, you enjoy the protection of the
Carrez Act! The exact surface area of the flat should be included in the preliminary contract
and, in any event, in the acte authentique de vente (deed of sale) failing which the contract
will be void. In practice, most vendors call in a chartered surveyor to certify the surface area
of the flat.
Demand a plan! If, once you take possession of the property, you note a difference of at least
5% between the surface areas mentioned in the deed of sale, you can demand a rebate in
proportion to the number of missing square