Compromis de Vente

The initial contract, or Compromis de Vente

The process of buying a property in France is not complicated, but because every document has to be written in French it can be difficult to understand what is going on at each stage. A good agent, if you are buying through one, should be quite happy to clarify any issues you may have.

The first stage in the process is making an offer. Once both parties have agreed the price, an initial purchase contract or “Compromis de Vente” is drawn up. (There are other names for this document, such as “Promesse de Vente”).

This contract is very important as it describes the property being bought, who from, who by, and when.

It should also stipulate any conditions to the sale. These are known in French as ‘Clauses Suspensives’, and can be used to set any conditions that must be met for the purchase to go ahead. So, for instance, if you want to buy subject to getting a mortgage, you must say so in this contract – if you do not say so you are legally committed to the purchase even if you then fail to obtain a mortgage. The obtention of a mortgage is a standard condition in this contract, but you must make sure your agent is aware that you will be applying for one so they can fill in the appropriate section.

Another common condition (though it is not included as standard in the contract) is the obtention of planning permission. If you are planning to buy a building such as a barn to convert to a house, it is always wise to include this condition.

Once you have drawn up and signed the initial contract, you have a cooling off period, after which you are committed to the purchase (subject to any conditions).

The vendor is now also legally obliged to sell to you at the agreed price and you cannot be gazumped.

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