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Once you have chosen a property and you want to make an offer, you must sign "LE COMPROMIS DE VENTE" (French preliminary contract to purchase - see below) which is legally binding for both the Vendor and Purchaser.  At this stage you must be in a position to pay a deposit (usually 10 % of the price of the house).

From the date of signing the COMPROMIS DE VENTE you have a 7-day cooling off period during which time you can change your mind but the vendor cannot offer the property to anyone else. The vendor will supply a certificate to say that there is no asbestos on the property.

Documents you will need when you buy a property:
- photocopy of your current, valid passport,
- certified copy of your birth certificate (made within the last three months),
- resident's card (if you have one),
- marriage certificate - if applicable

After anything from 1 week to 3 months the buyer and the seller sign the final contract at the office of a French notary.  We can arrange for our French representative to attend this meeting with you.   It should be noted that during this period you should not expect much communication from the notary's office as, unlike England, there is little correspondence.

We at French Houses are all bi-lingual and we will, if required, with the help of the relevant Agent Immobilier help with the move to France and/or any documentation requirements you may encounter with which you do not feel comfortable.  We also have good contacts with money transfer agencies that can save you money.  We will even help you to open an offshore bank account and help you with any off-shore pensions and investments.

French Houses ONLY deal with reputable and registered
French Estate Agents
(Agents Immobilier Français).
Most of the agencies with whom we deal will, if needed, help you to find a reputable Notaire.
All the properties on this site are though French Estate Agents and our introduction
to these agents and their properties does not cost you anything.


Property & House Purchase Terminology
Abri -
Acceuil -
Acompte - 
A shed or lean-to - a small outbuilding - From the French for Shelter
Reception area - from the French for Welcome
Acte de Vente - 
Deed of Sale. This can take place anything from 2 to 4 months after signature of the Compromis de Vente, you must sign this Acte de Vente. Drafted by the notaire and signed at his/her office, this sets out the status of the owner and a definitive description of the property, its boundaries and so on. Upon signature of the Acte de Vente, the buyer pays the legal fees to the notaire with the balance of the purchase price. The vendor usually pays the agency's commission. If this is not the case, it must be made clear to the buyer from the beginning.
Agence Immobilière -
Agent Immobilier -
Agglomere -
Aménagée -
A aménager -
Ardoise -
Atelier -
Attenant - 
Estate agent's office
The estate agent (person)
Converted or fitted
To convert
Slate tile
Workshop or factory
Attached as in attached garage or land
Attestation d'acquisition - 
Written certificate from the Notaire sent to you after to state the sale is completed
Batiment -
Batir -
Bergerie - 
To build
Sheep farm or manger
Bon de visite - 
Form signed by prospective buyer before viewing a house with a French immobilier to prevent you sunsequently buying it through another agent or privately
Bricolage -
Cadastre -
Carreleur -
Carte de Séjour -
Cellier -
Certificat d'Urbanisme -
Une Chambre -  
Chambre à Coucher -  
Charpentier -
Chauffage -
Chauffage Central - 
Local town planning register
Resident's permit, obtained from the Préfecture of the department
Pantry or store
Land use certificate
A Room - sometimes used as the shortened version of "chambre à coucher" - a Bedroom
A Bedroom
Central heating
Conditions Suspensives  - 
Or Clause Suspensive - 
Subject-To Clauses. Contained in a preliminary contract (unilateral commitment to sell or compromise), those suspend the execution of the contract to the occurence of an event. The contract will take all effect only when the event envisaged is carried out. For example, condition precedent of obtaining a loan, a permit building... To be valid, a condition precedent should not depend on the chance or only will on a part.
Combles - 
Compromis de Vente - 
A promise to purchase. A preliminary contract signed by the salesman and the purchaser of a real estate either under private signature, or in front of a professional. The compromis De Vente engages the two parties and the purchaser pays a deposit (in general 10% of the selling price) during the establishment of this act.
Couverture -
Cuisine -
Cuisine Equipée - 
Declaration de Travaux - 

Devis -
Expert Comptable -
Fosse Septique - 
Can be a blanket but when relating to property it means the roof
Fitted kitchen
A declaration of works to be undertaken where planning permission would not be required
The local Mairie will tell you whether you need Planning Permission or simply a declaration of works.
Estimate for work
chartered accountant
Federation Nationale des Agents Immobilier
septic tank
Frais de Notaire - 
Total amount of money paid to the notaire on top of the sale price (includes, notaire fees, registration duty, land registration duty and other charges)
Fuelle (pronouced 'Fule') - 
Garage Attenant -
Grange -
Grenier - 
Heating oil
Garage attached to the house
Hameau - 
Hamlet or small village - usually with no shops
A hectare is 10,000 m² or 100 X 100 meters
- 1000 m² is approx. ¼ of an acre - an acre being approx. 4000 m²
(to be precise, an acre is 4,046.95 m²)
As a guide to property sizes the average 3 bedroomed semi-detached property
in the UK is 100 m² .
Hypothèque - 
A Mortgage. The 'Hypothèque' is used to guarantee the payment of a debt contracted on a real estate. It makes it possible for the lender to legally sell the real estate of its debtor if this one would have no possibility to refund the sums due.
Immobilier -
Impot -
Lu et approuvé -
Maçon - 
Maison de plain-pied -
Maison de Maitre -
Maison des Amis -
Mairie -
Mandat -
Menuiserie -
Meubles -
Moquette - 
Property or real estate agent
Phrases written accompanying signature of contract "read and approved"
Mason - builder
House on one level or Bungalow
More formal, grander style of house
Anything from an outbuilding to a separate apartment or cottage - Literal: Friend's House
Town hall
See bon de visite
Notaire - 
Solicitor. When deciding to purchase a property, you will inevitably be using the services of a French Estate Agent (Agent Immobiler) and a Notaire. The Notaire can, and usually dooes act on behalf of both the buyer and the vendor. He or she is a public official who ensures that the transaction is carried out legally and accurately. There is therefore no need for each party to appoint a separate notaire. The notaire does not give legal advice. The Notaire's fees are not usually included in the property price that you get from the Estate Agent. The Notaire's fees, together with Land Registry charges, local and regional taxes, VAT etc. are approximately 7 to 8% of the purchase price of the property.
Palier -
Parpaing -
Permis de Construire -
Une Pièce - 
Plan Cadastral -
Plomberie -
Plombier -
Remise -
Salle de Bain -
salle d'eau -
Salon -
Salle a Manger -
Séjour -
Sous Sol - 
Rendered Block
Planning permission
A Room
The town plan showing properties and parcelles of land
Barn or shed or external storage - from the French to Put Away
Shower room
Dining room
Living room or lounge
Cellar or basement
Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)- 
A company which can be set up exclusively to purchase property
Surface Habitable - 
Surface Terrain - 
Habitable space, usually excludes bathrooms and garage - shown in square metres (m²)
Land size
Taxe d'Habitation - 
A local tax, partly means-tested, payable only from the December of the year in which you were the owner. Due on the 1st January in advance
Taxe Foncière - 
A government tax on property, payable pro-rata from date of completion to the end of December
Toiture -
TVA (Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée) -
Viager Occupé -

Vidange Curage - 
French VAT
This means that a tenant is in a property for life and you have to wait until they die to be able to move in if purchased with this clause.
Fosse septique emptying & treatment
Tontine (en)- 
Inheritance arrangement whereby the surviving spouse takes full ownership of joint assets
Tout à l'égout - 
Mains Drainage
Traducteur Agrée - 
Translator (official) - any documents in English will need to be translated into French by an official translator
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