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Property buying process in France

23 Nov 2018

So what is the property buying process in France and along long is it ? Asking around you will get many differents visions, some very optimistic. We are going to présent a realistic overall time frame to buy a property, to allow you to allocate enough time. Because in France whatever the type of property you are considering to buy, you will enter a similar process. So let’s look at the chain of mandatory steps, framed by the french laws, that any project automatically involved.


Property buying process steps

According to the project and circumstances, some steps might go very well and diligently, and others will be harder to deal with and take more time than expected.

  1. Finding the property : anything between 1 monts to many more
  2. Making an offer and negotiate : anything between 1 day and many weeks
  3. The vendor accepts your offer
  4. Signing the Pre-contract : from the day the vendor accept your offer, it will take 5 weeks minimum
  5. You are ready for completion : Usually 3 months after the pre-contract is signed
  6. Moving in : and the end of the completion meeting you are given the keys and can move in

So if we add up the time needed for each steps, you get a good and reliable estimation, of 5 to 6 months. This is how long it take your, to buy a property in France. In fact this is most probably a minimum, that you should realistically allow for you project.
This is a first approach, not entering the possible difficulties. For example the Town Hall might want to preampt the property, or land, and in the end decide not to.
An other obvious element is that the total amount for the agreed price and the additional costs (Fees, taxes) is transferred and received the hands of Le Notaire, a few days before completion day.
Remember that many people will give you more optimistic dead lines to please you, but take our word for the reality.

We will look in great detail at each of these steps, in the coming chapters.

Potential complementory steps

Quite obviously every project has its specifics that can interfere with the process.

To keep things more simple, we didn’t add the time applying to more specifics cases. For example when the buyer wants to undertake important works that require a building planning permission (Permis de construire). That are summited to local authorities (Le Service de l’Urbanisme de la Mairie). You need it to modify the exterior of the property (Gates, openings, …), or the frontage, the windows of an existing house. And quite obviously to build a new one,  or an extension, a swimming pool (not always), etc.

As it is easy to imagine, that has major impact on the process and the agenda. The local administration has 2 months to answer, when the request file you sent is complet.  If the request is incomplete …
According to complexity of the demand and where the property is located (site classé, carrières, …) , it can take between 3 to 6 months to prepare the project with your advisors (Architects, …). We have written a specific chapter on those very specific and more complexe types of projects.




Therefore keep in mind that whatever you are being told, the standard (minimum) time scale is 6 months. And clearly more if you are looking for something very specific, or if you will need a planning permission.

For the property buying process to keep flowing properly, a lot of implication is needed from you, or you advisors. We will see in chapter … , that apart from hiring a Property Hunter, no experts will be at your side during the entire project.

If the building permit is an essential aspect of the project, and therefore if you wouldn’t buy if you don’t get it.  We strongly advise you, to introduce a specific clause into the pre-contract. It is call a suspensive condition (une condition suspensive), saying that should that autorisation not be granted, the deal will be void, and the initial payment repay.

Link to next chapter : Real Estate Professionals to help you
Lock back to : The GUIDE synopsis page

Team Wise Stone

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