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Property in France

Sale Contracts Cooling-Off Period

Wednesday 02 September 2015

The cooling-off period on the purchase of property in France has been increased from 7 to 10 days, although in practice it is already frequently longer.

Buyers of real estate in France are entitled to a cooling-off period, during which they can withdraw from the contract without a penalty, and with a full refund of their deposit being made.

No reason need be given to withdraw from the contract.

The option to rescind is only available to the buyer; once the seller has signed they are legally bound by the contract.

This délai de rétraction has been 7 days from signing of the sale and purchase agreement - the compromis de vente/promesse de vente.

More specifically, it starts from the day after you receive a written copy of the sale and purchase agreement, which means that in practice the actual period of delay is frequently longer.

This is because the contract is not always handed over to buyer and seller at the time of signature, but subsequently sent by post by the notaire or estate agent.

This retraction period has now been increased to 10 days, for all contracts signed since 8th August 2015. Once again, this extended period only starts from the day after you receive the contract.

At the end of the ten day cooling off period the contract becomes binding on both parties, subject to any conditions that may have been included in the contract.

If you wish to withdraw from the sale prior to the expiry of the ten-day period you need to send a recorded delivery letter to the estate agent or notaire giving notice of your withdrawal. You are not obliged to give reasons.

In practice, if you signed in front of a notaire, it is normally sufficient for you to visit their offices, at which time they can provide you with an appropriate letter of withdrawal for you to sign.

The cooling-off period is not available for the isolated purchase of any other land, including a single building plot, a garage, or other ancillary buildings.

Neither is it available if you are buying through a Société Civile Immobilière (SCI).

The change in the law has met with widespread criticism amongst property professionals, who consider the extended delay will merely incite timewasters to make an offer on a property about which they are not serious.

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