The offer to buy a property in France

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offer-buy-property-franceThe negotiation of the purchase price of the property allowed you to find a verbal agreement with the seller. However, this verbal agreement has no legal value! You now need to confirm your intention to buy by sending a written offer to purchase to the seller. This offer, on the other hand, is legally binding. It demonstrates your willingness to buy a property in France at an agreed price.

 

The objective of this document is to create a link between both parties. That link will remain until the signing of the deed of sale at the Notaire. This deed will mark the transfer of ownership between you and the seller. To ensure that your offer is legal, it must contain specific elements. We will now present the key elements you must include, the possible outcomes once the seller receives the document, both parties’ commitments and your rights to withdraw.

Elements to include in your offer to buy

You must include specific elements for your document to be valid. Be thorough, forgetting a single element can make your offer null and void. It may cost you the initiative on a quality property in France. By inserting all the following elements, you are sure that your purchase offer is perfectly legal and acceptable by the seller.

 

  • First name and surname of both you and the seller
  • Location and full address of the property in France that you want to buy
  • A precise description of the property to which your proposal refers to: type of property, surface, number of rooms
  • The price you are willing to pay for the acquisition of this property
  • The period of validity of your offer. Usually between 5 and 10 days. This period is the time that you give to the seller to give an answer to your proposal. Do not forget to mention that past this deadline, your document will no longer be valid
  • How you are planning to finance the purchase (mortgage if applicable + personal deposit)
  • The date and your signature

After the transmission of your offer to buy

Once you have sent this document in French to the seller, he has the time you mentioned in your proposal to give you an answer. Generally, the seller has 8 days to think about the offer. After this period, you are free to cancel your offer.
When your proposal matches the initial asking price, the seller is under obligation to immediately accept your offer. When your bid is below the initial asking price, there are three possible outcomes.

 

The seller rejects your proposalUnfortunately for you, the seller does not appear to be open to negotiation. You can increase your price to make him change his mind.

 

The seller refuses your bid but makes a counterofferThe seller indicates that he refuses to sell his property to you for the amount in your first written proposal. Nevertheless, he is not opposed to negotiations. Indeed, he has made you a counteroffer. It includes an amount between what he originally was looking for and the sum that you offered. The ball is now in your camp. If you accept, the transaction advances to the next step. If you refuse, you can also make another counteroffer. Otherwise, if you do not wish to meet the demands of the seller, the deal is off.

 

The seller accepts your proposalIn this case, you have legally reached an agreement with the seller. You are both now legally. You can now search for and select a Notaire in France to draw up a preliminary sales contract.

 

The seller cannot ask you to pay a deposit at the time of the acceptance of your proposal. This practice is strictly prohibited by Law and may result in invalidating of the transaction. Only the establishment of the preliminary sales contract can result in the payment of a deposit. It represents usually 10% of the amount of the transaction and must go through the Notaire.

 

The commitments of both parties

Be careful, as a buyer, your commitments are quite high when you transmit a written offer to purchase. In fact, in France, this document constitutes a genuine legal act. It commits you to buy the property in France as soon as the seller accepts his proposal. In case of a change of mind, the buyer is exposed to the payment of substantial damages.

 

On the other hand, your offer to buy is unilateral. Therefore, it does not commit the seller if you make a proposal below the price he asked for. In fact, in this case, the seller has no obligations towards you. Nevertheless, if you send an offer matching the asking price, the seller has no other choice but to accept. In case of rejection, the seller is not respecting the Law. Therefore, he is exposing himself to being forced to sell his property to you by the French Justice. He may also have to pay damages and interest as compensation for the damage suffered.

 

cliffs-etretat-france
Cliffs of Etretat, Normandy

Your rights of withdrawal

Once the seller has received your written offer to buy the property in France, you can withdraw under certain conditions. In the following cases, you are able to backtrack without having to pay financial compensation.

 

  • First case. The seller has not responded to your offer
  • Second case. The seller has not accepted your offer within the time limits that you have mentioned in your written proposal
  • Third case. The seller comes back to you with a counteroffer, the initial document that you sent him becomes obsolete

What happens if the seller has accepted your offer and, for whatever reason, you want to withdraw from this transaction? It is no longer possible to do so at this stage! However, do not worry! You will just have to wait a little longer. Indeed, you just need to hold on for the establishment of the preliminary sales contract. It usually happens under one month after the acceptance of the offer to buy transmitted to the seller. You will benefit at this stage from a legal cooling-off period of 10 days. This period will allow you to permanently withdraw from the transaction without any financial liability towards the seller.

 

Template of written offer to purchase

We do care about the foreigners that have chosen to complete the legal acquisition of their property on their own. Therefore, here is a perfectly legal model of a written offer to buy. It is acceptable as it is. Do not hesitate to base the document that you are going to draw up on this model. Then, you will just have to translate it into French before transferring it to the seller.

(First name and surname of the purchaser)
(Address)
(Postal code and city)
(Country)

(Name and surname of the vendor)
(Address)
(Postal code and city)
(Country)

(Date and place)

 

Subject: offer to buy

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

On the (indicate the date), we visited your property (specify the type of property) located at (indicate the full address of the property in France) which includes the following: (describe the property as precisely as possible (area, outbuildings, equipment sold with the property, number of rooms, floors, date of construction.)).

 

We hereby inform you of our intention to purchase this property for the price of (specify the sale price that you propose) euros under standard conditions of sale. The price will be paid in full on the day of the signature of the authentic deed of sale at (optionally specify, if you already know, the name of the Notaire in charge of the sale).

 

I declare that I will finance this property using a loan(s) for a total amount of (indicate the amount in letters) euros, along with a personal deposit of (indicate the amount of your personal deposit in letters).

 

This offer is valid until (indicate the date of expiry) included. Should the seller not accept the terms and the dates agreed, this present offer will be null and void. In case of acceptance by the seller, a preliminary contract will be signed in a reasonable period of time, i.e. not later than one month after acceptance of this offer by the seller.

 

Yours faithfully

 

(Signatures)

You now have all the cards in hand to establish your offer and include all the necessary elements for it to be legal. Don’t forget to consider your commitments at this stage when you are going to sign this document since, in France, this act has legal value. Once your proposal is approved by the seller, you can begin searching for a Notaire to draw up the preliminary contract.

 

Do not hesitate to use the comment box below to ask us any question you have regarding the offer to buy a property in France. We will be delighted to answer them! You can also contact us if you need help to establish your proposal. We will work with you on this document then complete its translation into French for you.

About the author

Samir Grattery is the creator of French Property Connection. Holder of a Master in Property Law from the University of Sorbonne in Paris, Samir first worked as an estate agent. He was then working on behalf of sellers and defended their interests. He then decided to solely collaborate with buyers. Working as a property finder in Paris, he accompanied non-residents throughout their purchase project and protected their interests against sellers.

In 2015, after moving to the United Kingdom, he created French Property Connection to enable non-residents wishing to buy a property in France to simplify their purchase process, particularly by avoiding the pitfalls and problems usually faced by foreign buyers.

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Comment or ask us something about the offer to purchase in France

6
  1. Hi
    We visited a property today in Lot-et-Garonne and had a coup de coeur! We put a cash offer in and this was accepted within half an hour by the owner, who is in a home but seems to be of sound mind as far as we know. So we thought we had bought the house. 10 minutes later our estate agent’s office phoned our agent (with whom we were still in the car) and said that another cash offer had been accepted by the owner’s friend 30 minutes earlier from another party and different estate agency. The friend was apparently organising viewings and looking after the property. He did not inform the owner of this other offer. The owner had meanwhile accepted our offer. When the two offers came to light, were asked to match the other offer, which we did and our agent reduced their commission fee so in effect our offer was better. I also question whether the friend was authorised to accept offers. If he had power or attourney that’s fine, but if not then surely not both he and the owner can make the decisions. We really loved the property so if there’s a chance we can proceed, we would. Just not sure if we have any grounds to question the notaire’s decision.
    Would appreciate your professional advice on this before we give up!
    A quick reply would be much appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Kind regards

  2. Thanks for this article, very useful to make my offer to buy!! Cheers

    • Dear Mr Johnson,

      Thank you for your comment! Feel free to contact us if you want us to check the legal value of your offer to purchase a French property.
      Regards,

      Samir Grattery

  3. Margaret says:

    Hello there!
    My husband and I fell in love with a property near Biarritz.
    We want to make an offer to buy and we just would like to know if it is possible to transmit it to the seller in English?
    Thanks in advance for your answer!

    • Hello Margaret,

      Actually it is better to have this offer translated into French. Feel free to contact us by email if you want us to translate this offer into French for you.

      Have a nice day.

      • Margaret says:

        Dear Mr. Grattery,

        I sent you an message using your contact form.
        Thanks