3. Sale and Purchase Contract for Property in France

  1. Types of Sale & Purchase Contract
  2. Preparation and Signing the Contract
  3. Role of French Notaires
  4. Use of Legal Advisors
  5. Pre-Contract Enquiries

3.5. Pre-Contract Enquiries

Although we recommend you use the notaire for preparation and signing of the sale and purchase agreement (as opposed to going via the estate agent) there are limitations even on this approach.

The formal 'search' enquiries undertaken by them only take place after signing of the sale and purchase contract (compromis de vente) and are confined mainly to establishing proper title to the property and rights over the property.

In addition, although they make formal enquiries to the local council, those enquiries may only concern the perimeter of the property, and thereby exclude information concerning major developments in the locality.

The results of the search enquiries by the notaire are rarely comprehensive, due to shortcomings in the questions asked, and local authorities sometimes lack the resources to properly undertake the task.

We therefore consider it imperative that you undertake your own complementary enquiries, that the sale and purchase contract contains an appropriate clause concerning a full disclosure obligation by the seller, and that you insist the notaire makes a wider formal search beyond the boundaries of the property.

Thus, for instance, it may be pertinent to include clauses relating to access or the services to the property, and to any major local developments in the sale agreement if nothing is being stated on these issues in the draft contract.

The notaire is competent to do the legal drafting of the clauses that are necessary.

In order to provide you with some idea as to what you should be looking for in the pre-contract enquiries, we have prepared a check-list of items, which you can find by visiting Pre-Contract Enquiries.

There are probably limits on the extent to which you can make full enquiries on all these matters, some of which will, in any event, be undertaken by the notaire, but the document serves as a check-list of the things you need to ensure are properly clarified.

One document that you should view at an early stage is a copy of the plan cadastral for the property you are proposing to purchase.

This is the official public register of property ownership showing the boundaries of each property.

There will be a plan cadastral for the whole parish in the mairie, but it would also be surprising if the seller did not have a copy they could show you.

A copy should be provided by the notaire at the time you sign the sale and purchase agreement.

Each parcel of land on the plan cadastral is numbered, so you will be able to see clearly the land you are buying. However, as we state in our pages on Land Registration in France, it is not a definitive statement of the land boundaries of the property.

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