Step five: Do your due diligence
As part of the property sale process, the seller is required to arrange (and pay) for a number of surveys and reports to be prepared on the property. These surveys are called the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT)
. They do not, however, comprise a formal structural survey of the property. When completed, they are attached to the sale and purchase agreement. They include a number of diagnostics inspections that are required, depending upon the type and situation of the property. These include asbestos, drainage, electrical installations, energy use/carbon emissions, gas installations, lead, natural risks (flood, forest fires, earthquakes, mining and land pollution) and timber infestation (termite report). If the property is served by a septic tank system and if the system is not compliant, you will have one year from completion to make it compliant – and this can be expensive (more budgeting!). If the property comes with a swimming pool, there needs to be evidence of a check on the swimming pool, particularly its safety aspects.
However, some buyers will still look to pay for their own independent surveys to be carried out on a property, to check for structural defects and issues of damp – issues that are unlikely to be brought up by the DDT reports (yes – more budgeting!). If you plan to have your own survey carried out it makes sense to do this before the signing of the preliminary contract.
Step six: Compromis de Vente
The next step is for you and the seller to sign the first contract, called the compromis de vente
. This contract includes all the information and data pertaining to the sale, such as exactly what is included in the sale, the parties, the price, any let out conditions (conditions suspensives
) and the expected completion date. The DDT Inspections (see step five) carried out are listed in the compromis de vente
and your legal adviser will explain their importance to you.
The reports most likely to lead to some financial
outlay by the owner of the property are problems with asbestos, drainage, electrical or gas installations, swimming pools and timber infestation. It is then a matter of negotiating whether the seller pays for these before completion – or by way of reducing the purchase price – or if you will assume the liability of correcting any defaults.
Once signed, the seller is at this point legally obliged to sell you the property, although you still have a further ten days from receipt of the formal consumer protection notice from the agent or the notaire
to withdraw from the transaction without liability. At the end of these ten days, providing you wish to go ahead with the purchase, you will need to pay a deposit (usually 10 percent of the purchase price). You are now committed to buying the property, subject to any let-out conditions set out in the compromi
s, usually if a loan is required or dealing with satisfactory planning, usage and title searches.