The French buying process when purchasing land.

The French buying process when purchasing land.

How is it different from buying property?

The French buying process when purchasing land in France is quite similar to the process when you buy an existing property, but there are some points to be aware of. Click here for an overview of the general buying process for property

1 – If the land is non-constructible and is intended simply to be used as garden or fields etc, there will be no cooling off period in the contract. Once you sign the sales contract, you will be committed to proceed – Aside from various standard conditions, such as a finance clause.

The French buying process is slightly different when you purchase a building plot. In this case, the contract will include a standard 10 day cooling off period for the buyer.

French buying process

2 – The second important point to consider when buying a building plot is to make sure the land is zoned for development and it is possible to build there, rather than being reserved for agricultural use only etc. Your agent will of course check all this for you.

In an ideal world, your building plot will already have planning permission granted, if not, you will need some specialist advice from your agent and a local architect.

The French Buying Process

Moving on to other aspects, the purchase of a building plot follows the same general buying process as the purchase of an existing property. The first document you will sign is the compromis or promesse de vente and you would usually ensure this is conditional on the issue of a positive planning certificate, if there is not already a certificate in existence.

At the very least, you will have had advice from an architect who will have visited the town hall to discuss the project.

French buying process

The compulsory diagnostic reports that a seller has to produce for a buyer on the purchase of a property are not applicable to a land purchase, except for a statement as to the absence/presence of any natural or technological risks affecting the area in which the land is situated. This will highlight whether the land is at risk of flooding, avalanche, landslide or forest fire and the existence of such risk factors will obviously depend on the region in which the land is located – Your agent and notaire will chase this for you.

Click here to find out the role of a French notaire

If the buyer is reliant on arranging finance to purchase, the contract will usually include a finance condition. If you fail to raise the finance, you will usually be able to obtain a refund of the deposit paid (generally 10% of the purchase price) but the seller is entitled to ask for evidence that you have tried to get the finance and have been refused.

Once a binding contract is in place, the notary will deal with the pre-completion formalities, including a Land Registry search and a local authority search.

If anything untoward is revealed by these searches, the contract will be cancelled and your deposit will be returned to you. The notary also has to check any preemption rights before he can proceed to arrange completion. Preemption is where a third party such as the local commune or the local agricultural commission can elect to buy the land in your place – Speak to your agent for more details on this (it is a part of ALL property and land purchases in France)

Assuming the search results are all clear, the notary will contact the parties to invite them to a completion meeting. The time period between signing the contract and completion is usually around 2 months.

You do not have to attend completion in person and can sign a Power of Attorney instead if you prefer. This will authorise your notaire or one of the clerks to sign the final purchase deed on your behalf. It is important to check a draft of the final deed prior to attending completion or signing a Power of Attorney and this is where a UK based French law specialist can assist.

For any more details about the French buying process, contact your Home Hunts consultant for help.


Home Hunts is a buyer’s agent and we are here to help you with everything to do with buying a luxury property in France – as well as Spain, Monaco or Switzerland.

If you would like to speak to a consultant about the buying process in France or the market in general, you can call us on +33 970 44 66 43 or send an email to

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