Making an Offer? Tips for a Successful Buying Process in France

Making an Offer? Tips for a Successful Buying Process in France

Making an Offer? Tips for a Successful Buying Process in France

As a buyer’s agent, our job involves more than just hunting for homes, we are also here to guide our clients through the entire buying process in France, and beyond.

Over the years we’ve found that while our clients are over the moon on finding their dream luxury property in France, there are always questions or concerns around the offer and buying process.

The legalities, timescales and language barrier are sources of worries, but part of Home Hunts’ job is to help clients succeed and make it as stress-free as possible.

While we do have an extensive Buyer’s Guide on our website, this article dives into the offer stage and beyond, so you know what to expect and how long each stage lasts. Please note that the times given are based on averages across hundreds of sales, but overall the entire offer/buying stage usually lasts around 10-12 weeks.

If you have any questions at all, contact us at, we are always very happy to help.

Part One – The Offer – Welcome to the buying process in France

To do: Does the initial offer need to be verbal or written? This is a common question, and the answer is that both are often required, starting with a verbal offer – especially if it’s low – to test the water with the seller. 

“There will nearly always be an offer letter – an ‘offre d’achat’ – prepared,” says Tim Swannie, Director of Home Hunts. “This is a simple document including the basic details of the property, price offered and everything needed (furniture, for example). It also includes other information, such as whether it is a cash offer or there is a mortgage included, and how quickly a buyer can proceed.”

At this point, clients sometimes need to speak to mortgage brokers, tax advisors or currency exchange specialists to make sure everything is in order. If it is, the buyers sign and it’s sent.

Once accepted, the seller countersigns the letter and this effectively reserves the property because they stop visits from other potential buyers. Congratulations.. you are starting the buying process in France.

Next steps: A date is then set for the signing of the “promesse de vente” or the “compromis de vente” and both parties instruct a “notaire” to act as their legal advisor throughout the purchase. Timescale between offer and promesse 2-4 weeks.

“The ‘notaries’ work together to draft a ‘promesse de vente’ or ‘compromis de vente’, a document detailing everything about the sale, including the energy and other diagnostics of the house, land and legalities,” says Tim.

Buyer tip: Proactivity pays off and to make the process as efficient as possible, this is the perfect time to get organised. Seek mortgage or tax advice, arrange for a survey on the property (if required), get quotes for renovation works etc. The Home Hunts team is there to advise you on how to make the most of this waiting period and get ahead on your buying process in France.


Part Two: The “Promesse de Vente” – Initial sales Contract

To do: At the signing of the “promesse de vente” or the “compromis de vente” the notaire takes the buyer through the document step-by-step and explains every detail. It is a long and complicated contract, but the notaire is there for you (as is your Home Hunts consultant) to make sure all is clear.

Although it is in French, translation is possible, or a translator can be present at the signing. It’s important the buyer understands all the information in this legally-binding document. The buyer is very well protected in France.

Next steps: On signature, the buyer transfers 10% of the purchase price (sometimes, this can be negotiated to 5%) which stays in escrow with the notary. A ten-day cooling off period follows during which time buyers can walk away without any penalties – the seller can’t, they are committed at this point. Once the cooling off period is complete, buyers would lose the deposit if they pulled out.

If you are taking out a mortgage, there is often a finance clause in this contract giving a fixed period of time (usually 30,45 or 60 days) to arrange it.

Buyer tip: Be aware that if you find it is impossible to arrange a mortgage within this period, you must produce a letter from the bank to say your mortgage has been refused. Then you can withdraw from the purchase and receive your deposit back. Timescale between Promesse and Ace de Vente – 8-12 weeks

Buying process in France

Part Three: The “Acte de Vente” – Collecting your keys

To do: Up until now the notaires have been working on the legal paperwork, checking planning permission, legal disputes, issues with neighbours or any major developments near the property that could affect the home in the future. 

All property sales are also registered with the local town hall and need to be signed off so, once prepared, the paperwork is sent to the town hall to be verified. This can take several weeks depending on how busy they are.

Next steps: The signing date chosen is one that is convenient for both the buyer and seller. On the day a notaire (and translator, if required) will be there to guide buyers through every step, with a Home Hunts consultant. 

Home Hunts consultants always visit the property before signing – usually with the client if they are able to attend – to inspect the home, check all is well and to read the meters etc.

Once signed, buyers become the official owners and if they are physically present they can pick up the keys that day.

Buyer tip: Pack a bottle of champagne to celebrate owning your dream home and move in asap.

buying process in France

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

To browse through thousands of beautiful homes, visit our website at; to keep up-to-date with our latest news read THE HUNTER at; and follow us on Facebook or Instagram.