Carolyne Kauser-AbbottExpat Living and Real Estate

French Real Estate Terms to Know Before Buying

Buying Property anywhere should cause one to pause and reflect on the investment. However, in France, there are some nuances to the way the residential real estate market operates. In addition, there is associated terminology that is specific to the real estate transaction process that you should know before buying a property. The following are some of the critical French real estate terms to understand:

French Real Estate Terms

Acte Authentique de Vente = The signing of the deed of sale is the final step in a real estate transaction. Generally speaking, this formality confirms that all parties abided by the terms previously negotiated in the sales agreement.

Acte de jouissance = The final step in the sale and transfer process, the “act of joy” of owning a new property. The buyer receives the keys to their property after signing the deed of sale in front of their notary. In approving the document, the buyer states that they accept the property in its current state. It is highly recommended that the buyer visit the property before signing the deed of sale. It is critical to ensure that the property is in the condition that they expect, and clear of the seller’s possessions.

Jardin la Louve Bonnieux

Agences Immobilières = Real estate offices

Agents Immobiliers = Real estate agent

Architecte = Architect

Arrosage automatique = Sprinkler system (garden)

Attestation – Once all the documents are signed, this is proof that you are the owner of the house.

Avocat = Lawyer

Bastide = Is a large country mansion. In some cases, these may have been small originally constructed as small fortified hamlets.

Bergerie = Originally constructed as animal shelters for livestock. It is quite common to find beautifully renovated bergeries. Read about this conversion near Uzès that turned out to be “un grand project,” but worth it in the end.

Béton = Concrete

Carte Professionnelle = every estate agent should be registered with the authorities. This professional card should ensure that the agent understands the legal nuances of property transactions.

Chantier = Project construction site

Chasseur immobilier = Buyer’s Agent. Discover why a buyer’s agent can be a critical person to have on your team when buying a property in France.

Chauffage = Heating

Climatisation = HVAC – heating, humification, ventilation, air conditioning

Compromis de vente = Both parties (buyer and seller) agree to complete the transaction and honour the agreed to terms (price, timeframe and other conditions). The typical timeline to complete the documentation process with your notary and acquire bank financing (if necessary) is 45 days.

French Real Estate Terms Village House Ansouis

Construction Elements and Legal Documents

Contrat de Location (or bail) = A rental agreement

Domotique = Home automation system

Éclairages = Lighting systems

Fenêtres = Windows

Fondation = Foundation

Hôtel Particulier = A large private mansion in a city

French Real Estate Terms

Jardins = Gardens

Maitre d’œuvre = Project manager. If you have a large project or are attempting to manage your construction from a distance, this person could be an invaluable member of your team.

Mas is a Provencal farmhouse

Mas Longue is a long farmhouse

Murs = Walls

Notaire = The notary, is a critical legal professional for real estate transactions in France. This person is central to the entire sales-purchase process for a property. As an impartial government official, the French State expects the notary to uphold all the legal, fiduciary requirements in their oversite of the property transfer. The notary reviews the documentation, highlights tax implications, and witnesses the signing of contracts. This person acts as a single point of contact during the sale. The notary is usually chosen by the seller, who pays his/her fees out of the proceeds. However, for some foreign buyers having a single person working for both sides of the transaction is uncomfortable. It is common for a buyer to select their own notaire, and it does not impact the total fees paid.

Provencal Exterior Dining al Fresco

Offre d’Achat = This is an offer to purchase at a specific price. Typically, this offer is a written document, but it can be verbal.  If the seller accepts the offer, then the sale moves forward and towards a compromis de vente. As a buyer, consider seeking legal advice before creating an offer d’achat.

Plan d’urbanisme (PLU) = Refers to local regulations related to constructability of the land and size of home that can be constructed.

Prêt Immobilier = Mortgage

Promesse de Vente = A pre-contract signed by both buyer and seller. The seller agrees to hold the property at an agreed to price for a defined option period. Typically, this document is used when the buyers need to secure financing or sell another property. The usual timeline to complete the documentation process with your notary and acquire bank financing (if necessary) is 45 days.

French Real Estate Terms Ansouis Village Window

Permis de construire = Construction permit

Sécurité = Security system

Toit = Roof

Ventes aux Enchères = Property sales via auction are quite common for repossessions or if parties cannot agree on a course of action after an inheritance.

Vente Privé = Private sale. A transaction between seller and buyer direct means that there are no estate agent fees, which in theory should translate into a reduced sales price. However, understanding the risks of property acquisition is critical.

Real Estate Resources in France

This website is in French, but it outlines the 10 steps essential to a real estate transaction in France.

Expat Arrivals PDF guide to living France.

Additional reading on house renovations in Provence.

Delivering regular temptation from Provence: food, wine, shopping, and travel tips.

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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