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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.