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From the many comments and questions we receive from readers we try to share those that may be useful to others in the same position. Here is a good question from a reader interested in buying a property in France.

Do I have to wait until after signing the compromis de vente to have a private survey done on the property?

You can have a private French property survey done at any point in the process, but there are a few things to keep in mind. This survey conducted at this stage would be optional and therefore conducted at the expense of the buyer. The property seller is required to provide a series of mandatory surveys or diagnostiques attached to the sales contract, the acte de vente.

These reports do serve a function and are provided for the information of the buyer, but it is still a case of buyer beware, and it is important to know what scope these diagnostiques will cover. Mostly it will depend on the age and condition of the property, but they will only deal with what is apparent. An insect infestation, for example, will only be reported if it is in plain sight, or a damp problem may not be spotted if the wall has been freshly painted or plastered. A private surveyor will be looking from the buyer’s point of view, and without the constraint to remain impartial, will be able to offer an opinion based on their experience.


As for the timing of the survey, the obvious advantage of having it done before signing is that you can easily pull out if anything major comes up and any red flags eventually could lead to a price negotiation if the correction of the fault would require a significant investment on your part. On the other hand, in order to gain access to the property the seller must be willing to allow it. Mostly this shouldn’t be an obstacle for a motivated seller.

Finally, delaying the signing of the compromis does leave the door open for another buyer to scoop up the property from under your nose, or for the seller to change his mind and take the property off the market.

Alternatively, you could have the survey conducted after signing the compromis and before signing the acte de vente. It shouldn’t normally delay the process as it takes the Notaire a few weeks to prepare the contract anyway.

It is important, however, that you have the notaire include a clause suspensive condition in the first document, the compromis de vente, stating that the purchase is subject to a satisfactory survey.


•From FrenchEntrée Magazine
The information in this article is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute legal, professional or financial advice. We encourage you seek the advice of a relevant professional before acting on any of this information. Any hyperlinks to other resources are provided as sources and assistance and are not intended as an endorsement.

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