Details and key stages for buying real estate in France

What are the normal legal timeframes for a standard sale/purchase?

Buying a property in France can be a complex process for those unfamiliar with real estate. To help you make the most of this exciting venture, our team takes you through the various stages of the process.

The first step is to look for a property that suits your needs, desires and budget. You'll need to define your project (principal residence, rental investment, second home, speculation, tax exemption, etc.) and your budget before staring the viewings.

If you're looking for finance, it's best to obtain all the information and guarantees you need from the lending institutions.

As far as your property search is concerned, our agency is committed to listing all available properties, combining our own properties with those of our other agencies while working in collaboration with them. This approach ensures greater efficiency and saves you considerable time.

Once we found your home, here’re the different stages and their deadlines:

1/ Offer to purchase (variable: within a few days)

Once you have found your property, you can submit an offer to purchase to the seller. The response time will depend on the seller's responsiveness, but generally this can take a few days or even several weeks, as no legal deadline has been set. The offer is rarely binding.

2/ Sales agreement (around 10 days)

Once the offer has been accepted, the next stage is to sign the "compromis" or "promesse de vente". This document is legally binding and sets out the terms of the transaction, confirming the commitment of both sides. Unlike the buyer, the seller is usually committed as soon as the preliminary contract is signed.

At the same time, the buyer is usually asked to pay a deposit of 5 to 10% of the price of the property to formalise the agreement. This amount will then be deducted from the total sale price when the final sale is signed.

In France, buyers have a 10-day cooling-off period. During this period, you can think it over and withdraw without giving any reason; you will get back your deposit in full and no financial penalty can be charged. It is still possible to withdraw after this period, but you will have to pay costs such as agency fees, the amount of the penalty clause stated in the “compromis”, and the deposit paid, which will be returned to the seller as compensation for any loss suffered.

3/ Examination of the file (approximately 11 days: request for documents)

Once the preliminary sale agreement or the promise to sell has been signed, the notaire in charge of the transaction will start to examine the file. You are free to choose your notary, and if necessary, our agency can also advise you. The notary will request all the necessary documents, such as civil status certificates, planning documents and mortgage registration certificates.

4/ Obtaining a mortgage if applicable (approximately 45 days

If you need a mortgage to finance the property, this process can take around 45 days to 2 months to get final approval from a bank You have the choice of approaching your bank and/or other banks, or even a property broker. This will enable you to analyse the most advantageous mortgage among those on offer and make your decision.

Once you have made your choice, the bank will send you a loan offer, the terms of which will be valid for a minimum of 30 calendar days from the date you receive it. As soon as you receive this offer, you have 10 calendar days to think it over before accepting it, by returning it to the bank by post (or e-mail) on the 11th day.

5/ Purge of pre-emption rights (approximately 60 days: purge of rights)

Before signing the deed of sale, it is essential to purge all pre-emption rights and lift all conditions precedent. This can take around 60 days after signing the preliminary contract, although the time taken varies from one commune to another.

6/ Deed of sale (around 2 to 3 months after the compromis or promesse de vente)

The final stage is the signing of the deed of sale at the notary's office. This is when you collect the keys to your new home and pay the balance, including the notary's fees, the pro rata property tax and any co-ownership charges.

Post-sale formalities:

Once the deed of sale has been signed, the notaire issues certificates of sale with and without a price to each of the parties. The notaire is then responsible for publishing the deed of sale at the land registry office, so that it can be registered.

Today, it can take up to 6 months or more to obtain an authenticated copy of your title deed in person.


Without any conditions precedent, such as obtaining a loan, the minimum time required to sign the final deed of sale is around 70 days. This is made up of 10 days for the preliminary sales agreement and 60 days for the purge of rights.

So the whole process can take from 2 to 4 months, or longer depending on the agreements between the parties.

Buying a property in France involves a number of stages and deadlines, so don't hesitate to call on our team of experienced professionals, who will help you to complete your property project in the best possible conditions. You'll have access to a very extensive selection of properties, including those "off the market", as well as personalised service and a professional approach to your search. As well as saving you time, our agency will offer you every guarantee to protect your interests and advise you.


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