Guide to Selling Property in France

9. Completion Formalities

You are obliged to ensure the property is in no worse condition than was the case when the sale and purchase contract was signed. Accordingly, if you cause damage to the damage as a result of dismantling of fittings and removals, you need to be careful that they are not so significant as to impair the value of the property.

Before sale completion can take place the notaire will need to have all purchase funds in place.

It is quite possible that the completion will take place on a date different to that stated in the sale and purchase contract, but this date is normally only one that is an estimated date, as completion of the searches may take longer than anticipated.

However, where the date for fulfilment of the contract conditions has expired, then the seller has the right to withdraw from the contract, provided there are not extenuating circustances, eg delays with loan for which bank responsible.

If the buyer is unwilling to complete then you will need to take legal action for enforcement of the contract. Provided all contract terms have been met, the court will confirm the sale or award damages.

At the signing the notaire will read the main points of the deed of sale. There is no specific requirement for both parties to be present, as it is possible to grant power of attorney to another person (occasionally even a clerk in the notaires office). However, this is not recommended until you have read and properly understood the deed of sale, and that there are no material differences with the sale contract. It can also all be done on-line, provided both sides and the notaire are agreeable.

Once the formalities are completed it can be several weeks before you receive the proceeds of the sale, due to the need to register the sale with the land registry before the notaire can transfer the funds. There are often many complaints about the delay, which is not always due to a lack of due diligence by the notaire, but simply delays at the land registry. If the funds are to be transferred abroad a notaire may also sometimes require confirmation from the bank that the seller is their client.

Prior to the completion formalities, possibly at the contract stage, ask the notaire how long will it be before you will receive the proceeds from the sale following signing of the deed of sale.

You should receive a final statement at the signing of the deed of sale, or soon afterwards, and when land registration has been complete, a final account.

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