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What’s the Timeline to Buy in France?

Volume XVIII, Issue 5

When purchasing a property in France, the process is highly administrative, has loads of consumer protection built in and as a result, takes a lot more time than an transaction in the U.S. This can lead to a lot of frustration if you’re not prepared for the delays and “cooling off” periods built into the system. At the same time, it’s thanks to this process that there is less risk in making a purchase, knowing that every I has been dotted and every T crossed prior to a final closing.

Here’s an outline of the timeline you can expect to encounter:

DAY 1: You’ve identified a property, negotiated the price with the seller and all parties are in agreement to proceed to a sale. We assume you’re working with us or another qualified consultant who will be assisting you throughout the process. (We don’t recommend you do this on your own!)

It is at this point that both the seller and buyer will inform the Notaires that a transaction is to take place. It is recommended that a buyer have his/her own Notaire and representation. They share commissions so there is no extra costs.

That’s when the ball gets rolling and the two Notaires begin to communicate and exchange documentation and information.

DAYS 7-30: Don’t expect the Notaires to be able to work too quickly. They have a long list of tasks, especially now thanks to the ALUR laws (L 721-2 of the French Building Code) requiring much of the documentation to be in place prior to signing a pre-sale agreement (Promesse or Compromis de Vente).

The Notaire must investigate and confirm:

• The buyers’ and sellers’ civil status
• His/her financing and personal contributions to the purchase
(depends on the type of purchase and delay of required delivery which are compulsory since the ALUR Law)
• Analysis of the title of ownership (description/surface area/audits, etc.)
• Calculating the estimated costs (notarial taxes and fees)
• Receipt of a check or bank transfer of the security deposit (10%) by the buyer
• Evaluating tax consequences for the seller (capital gains tax/VAT, etc.)

When all is ready, the signature of the pre-sale agreement can take place. It is the responsibility of the buyer to review the diagnostics (replacing an inspection), the last three years of building homeowner association meeting notes and the by-laws of the building (the Réglement de Copropriété). (This is something we work with you to ensure you understand all aspects of the purchase and to spot any issues.)

If you cannot be present to sign for yourself as the buyer, a proxy can be created and signed to allow another party to sign on your behalf. (We do this all the time, saving you time and money to travel to France!)


• Ten days from the formal notification of the signing of the pre-sale agreement, the buyer has the right to retract the purchase with a registered letter, no formal excuses necessary. This is some of that consumer protection built in!


• The Notaire reviews the administrative files (town planning file,…). This dossier gets thicker by the moment!


• This is the expiration of the pre-emptive rights by the city to purchase the property, if they exist, but don’t worry — I’ve never seen the city exercise its right to buy your property!


• The Notaire must prepare a mortgage statement and a statement of receivables.


• Proof that the loan offer has been obtained. This means you have 45 days to submit your file to the lending bank and obtain a formal loan offer. That should be plenty enough time.
• It’s also the maximum period for the Notaire to obtain the documents…
• In preparation of the draft of the final deed.


• The borrower must wait 11 days before signing the loan offer. This is more of that consumer protection built-in!


• Visit the property the day prior or the morning of the final signing of the deed (you buy AS IS).
• Sign the deed. Yeah! The property is yours. You have the keys and now you can call it home.

Add it up and it’s 100 days to go from Point A when you found the property to Point Z, the final closing. And that’s if all goes well. Allow for delays!

You will find this PDF document, provided by the Chambre de Notaires, very useful in understanding the process of making a purchase in France. But, don’t think it has all the answers. There are many pitfalls along the way. If you want to avoid them and take all the risk out of making a purchase, contact us for our property consultation services.

See French Property Consultation page and tell us more about your project.

A bientôt,

Adrian Leeds - Paris, France

Adrian Leeds
Adrian Leeds Group






A Loft for House Hunters International

P.S. We’re soon to tape another several House Hunters International episodes here in Paris and vicinity and we’re looking for properties in which we can film to show comparisons! For taping March 7-10, a two or three-bedroom home or apartment valued at approximately 220,000€, that has great views (this is very important) located in any of the Paris suburbs with easy access to Paris.

Taping takes about 4 hours, with a small crew and light equipment. We’ve never had any damage done to anyone’s property. And then, you get to see your property immortalized on House Hunters International!

If you have such property or know of one, please contact us immediately.


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