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Buying Process

Homeworks: things to do before visiting properties in France

Once you have decided to take the plunge and buy a French property, your first task will be to choose the right area for you. Please have a look at out French area guides; they are full of information on each corner of France and are definitely worth a good look before going any further! The secret of successfully buying a place in France is research, preferably before you even venture abroad. You may, of course, be fortunate and buy the first property you see without doing any homework and live happily ever after. However, a successful purchase is much more likely to occur if you thoroughly investigate the towns and communities in your chosen area.

Having your finances in order is another important step of the process, which may be sorted out with the help of your bank or (often better) with a bank specializing on French mortgages (see section below). We strongly advise you to sort out your finances before any viewings in France, as doing this will save you a great deal of time and money before starting a search.

This is also very important if you find the property of your dreams during your stay and if you wish to proceed quickly with your purchase.

Once your homework is done and your finances are in place, you are ready to fill out our questionnaire. The more precise your requirements are the better we will be able to assist in finding a property which suits you.

The French property search

Here are three ways to go about finding a property with us:

– By starting a search on our website, and letting us know which properties you like
– By sending us the completed questionnaire
– By contacting us, either by phone or email, and we will send you a selection of properties which meets your requirements.

Since we have selected together the properties which really meet your requirements, we will decide together on the most convenient time for you to visit these properties. The Sextant Properties team will arrange appointments with its French agents for you.

Organising a property viewing trip in France

Our team of property consultants will do its best to help you in your search for a property in France. If you would like to visit some of our properties, please follow these 3 steps:

1st step:
Select one or more properties on the website

2nd step:
Let us know the reference numbers of the properties you would like to view (ref numbers) and when you will be available to visit, either by giving us a call on: 0207 428 4910 or through an email sent to: [email protected]

Once we have this information, we will be able to organise your visit(s) with our agents in France (we need at least 1 week’s notice).

3rd step:
Arrange your travel to France.

How to make an offer to buy a property in France

Bear in mind that the French market is quite fast paced. Once you have found the property of your dreams, do not delay – you may not be the only client who is interested!

At that stage of the buying process, you should make an offer, usually in writing. If your offer is accepted by the vendor, the next step will be to sign a ‘Compromis de Vente’ which is a written contract of sale agreement. It legally binds the seller and the purchaser. Although they vary slightly from case to case, each “Compromis de Vente” should clarify details of both purchaser and seller, details of the property and details of the purchase (price, fees related).

You may also require some clauses to be inserted into the “Compromis de Vente” which are called “clauses suspensives” (get-out clauses). Theses clauses allow you to withdraw from the purchase if for example you are refused a request for outline planning permission or if you are turned down for a French mortgage.

Once the contract is signed by both parties, the property is taken off the market. By law, the vendor is not allowed to accept a higher offer from another party. There is no such thing as gazumping in France once the compromis de vente is signed.

You then have a 10-day cooling off period, in which you can withdraw from the buying process without incurring any penalties.

If you need to get a mortgage in France, make sure that the compromis de vente contains a “clause suspensive” (get-out clause) allowing you to pull out from the contract without penalty should your mortgage be refused by French banks. You will usually have a delay of 6 to 8 weeks to provide a mortgage offer from a bank.

Save money on your international money transfer to France

Sextant Properties have chosen to partner with Moneycorp, the foreign exchange experts, offering you better rates than the banks, along with a higher level of service, expertise and security.

The exchange rate can have a huge impact on the cost of your dream home in France. Arranging your transfers with Moneycorp will save you 3-4% versus the high street banks on your payment amount, and gives you access to a loyalty program which offers a 10% discount on Apple products as well as travel discounts for car hire and hotels abroad.

You will receive the type of personal service that you would not expect from a bank, including your own personal account manager who is a foreign exchange expert. In addition to simple payments they offer a range of services to enable you to budget ahead with confidence without worrying about the effect of future exchange rate changes. For example, you can lock into an exchange rate today that can be used for a transfer at any time over the next 2 years.

Who is Moneycorp?

Last year Moneycorp undertook 8.1m customer transactions and traded £22.7bn in currency. They are also the trusted foreign exchange partner of some major global organisations such as CNN, The Post Office and The Daily Telegraph. They have been trading currency since 1979 and are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They have offices in France, Spain, Ireland, USA and have their head office in London.

Find out more
See how Moneycorp can help you get more of your money to France now. Open an account online, email us at [email protected] or give us a call on 0207 589 3000 quoting “Sextant” to find out what we can do for you.

Data Protection

Sextant Properties Ltd comply with the UK Data Protection Act 1998. Your details remain private and confidential and will only be used by Moneycorp to contact you to communicate about your currency requirements.

Final signing

Since the “Compromis de Vente” is signed, the Notaire will check records and documentation regarding the property and land, such as land boundaries or right of ways. The Notaire will also check that the property is free of right and that any mortgage secured on the property is being repaid. The Notaire is responsible to make sure the necessary searches are done; that the termite, lead and asbestos inspection reports are complete and available for the buyer’s inspection, and to inform the buyer of any servitude rights or the new laws regarding septic systems. A “Notaire” is legally bound by law to act in the interest of both parties and must disclose to buyers and sellers all the legal requirements prior to a sale. It generally takes 2 to 3 months to complete this process.

It is usually recommended to proceed to a last visit of the property prior to the signature of the deed of sale to ensure that the property has been emptied and is in the same condition as during the first visit.

Both the buyer and the seller will then meet at the Notaire’s office for the signature of the “Acte de Vente” (deed of sale). You will be given the keys of the property on that day.

If your Notaire does not speak fluent English and if your French is not A1, the Notaire will have to arrange for someone to translate the deed of sale in English as you need to fully understand the contract for the signature.

Champagne !


Patience is a vital part of the buying process: it is important to remember that from starting the buying process through to the day you collect your keys usually takes between nine and twelve weeks.

There is no charge for our services throughout the purchasing procedure. We work on a shared commission basis with our agents and our properties are offered at exactly the same price as you would pay if you went directly to the agents. Do not hesitate to give us a call to help you in your search of a French Property, we are here to help you.

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