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.