Selling a French Property: The Legal Process


Essential Reading

Selling a French Property: The Legal Process

Are you planning on selling your property in France? Are you unsure about the legal side of things and/or would like to know about any legal obligations you may have? This article lists the various steps in the legal process you need to know about, and what the legal requirements are.

You may also want to read this article about six things you need to know before you sell your French property first.

Step 1: Putting your French property on the market

The very first thing to do before you start the legal process for selling is decide how you are going to put your property on the market: by yourself or via a real estate agency. In France, you are not legally obliged to use an agency, so you are completely free to sell your property yourself.

Beware though, this will involve marketing your property, organising property visits and negotiating the price, so it can be quite a lot to manage. Have a read of our Top Tips for Private Selling.

Step 2: Appointing a notaire

Your first legal obligation when selling a property is instructing a notaire (French solicitor), who is registered in France. All property sales in France must pass through a notaire who must be present for the signing of the acte de vente (or title deed).

The notaire will be responsible for drawing up the compromis de vente (preliminary contract), overseeing all the legal aspects of the sale, and ensuring that both sides meet legal requirements. Notaire’s fees are the responsibility of the buyer when selling a property, but it is typical for the seller to appoint the notaire.

Step 3: Building and diagnostic surveys

There are various surveys that the seller is required by law to carry out and pay for. These include a lead paint survey, asbestos survey, and an energy efficiency report. See our full guide to property surveys in France.

On top of this, the seller is required to reveal all information to the buyer which relates to the purchase of the property. This can include servitudes (easements), renter contracts, flooding issues, etc. Essentially anything which may affect the normal use of the property.

Step 4: Tax obligations

Once you have found a buyer and have signed the compromis de vente, you are still legally required to continue paying all relevant tax on the property until the official title deed has been signed. This includes the taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation. You may also have to pay capital gains tax.

Important information for UK owners for 2021 onwards: Due to Brexit, from the 1st January 2021, should you wish to sell your French property, you may be legally required to use a French Fiscal Representative.

Step 5: Other legal requirements

Other legal requirements once you have signed a buyer is to maintain the state of the property as detailed in the compromis de vente and to guarantee a defect-free and peaceful transfer of the property.

In other terms, the buyer should receive the property in the same state as the day they saw it and signed the contract, and you should give the buyer all information relating to any issues which may affect normal use of the property.

Are You Ready to Sell Your French Property?

Whether you choose to sell your French property privately or through an estate agent, need expert advice on the legal procedure or capital gains tax, or want to brush up on your knowledge of buying and selling in France — FrenchEntrée is hear to help! Our Essential Reading guides are the best place to start.

Once you are ready to sell, you might also choose to advertise your property in our French Properties for Sale database or French Property News magazine.

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Clara is a writer, translator and interpreter, working with French, Italian and English. She lives in the South of France.