When you have found a house in France, the first step consists of making an offer. This article will give you more information on the first steps when buying a house in France.
What is an "offre d'achat“?
First, as in Belgium, you must make an offer for the property. You confirm in writing your price, the (suspensive) conditions essential to you and the validity period. In principle, the offer is made in person to the seller or estate agent. The other possibility is to send it by registered mail. Usually, however, the estate agent will have their own template/form so that you can make the offer on the spot. Of course, an offer by e-mail is also a common practice.
In response, the seller can then:
- accept the offer, after which a legally binding agreement emerges;
- formulate a counter-offer;
- reject the bid.
If the seller accepts the offer, the property can no longer be offered to third parties. The next step is then to appoint a notary and draw up the compromise de vente.
The seller or broker may not demand a down payment at this stage.
What is the legal value of the bid for a house in France?
Once the seller accepts your offer, a legal commitment to buy-sell arises. You undertake to buy the property at the conditions set. The seller will no longer be allowed to offer the property to third parties.
Your commitment is mostly theory. After all, the next step is to draw up the compromise. And with compromise, a cooling-off period also applies. Even if an offer is legally binding, you can still withdraw within 10 days of signing. Still, it is important to state your conditions when making an offer. After all, these provisions come in compromise.
Only after the cooling-off period does the compromise become enforceable.
Is there a difference with a "promissory note unilatérale d'achat“?
A promissory note unilatérale d'achat (PUA) can be compared to a purchase promise. This document binds the buyer, under the conditions stated in the document, to buy the property. The seller is not bound by this. He still has the option to sell the property to someone else.
A PUA is regarded as a pre-contract (avant-contrat). The important consequence is that the 10-day cooling-off period continues to apply. You will then have 10 days for reflection. This is the main difference between an offer and a PUA.
So in practice, an offer is not binding. After all, you can always get out of it thanks to the cooling-off period. However, it is important to clearly state your conditions beforehand. Not only to avoid surprises afterwards, but also because the offer serves as the basis of the compromise. And after the 10-day cooling-off period, the compromise does bind the parties.