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Step 1 : from reservation contract to cooling off period

Reservation contract and refundable deposit

After visiting a few properties you will make up your mind on the chosen one. To reserve it you will be required to sign a preliminary contract or reservation contract, called ‘contrat de réservation’ and make a refundable deposit of between 2 to 5%, as opposed to 10% when buying a resale French property.

The deposit is of 5% if the final deed of sales is signed within 1 year after the signing of the reservation contract, which is generally the case. It is 2% if the final deed of sales is signed between 1 and 2 years. Beyond 2 years, there is no deposit required.

The deposit is made to the notary and not to the developer.

The deposit is refundable if you change your mind within 14 days after receiving your reservation contract back by recorded delivery (see bellow) or under the following circumstances: the price exceeds by 5% the price foreseen, the specifications stated in the deed of sale do not correspond to the ones stated in the reservation contract provided it lowers the building value by 10%, if you are not allowed the mortgage you needed, if the deed of sales does not occur within the period indicated in the reservation contract.

The reservation contract means that the developer is commited to book the chosen property (but not obliged to sell it to you). Along with the reservation contract come the following documents:

  • the property description (living surface, number of rooms, plot surface and annexes)
  • a site map stating the number of apartments or houses and their direction
  • a list of the specifications and the material used
  • the price
  • the date for the signing of the definitive deed of sales with a notary
  • the features of the mortgage needed to finance the purchase
  • the conditions under which the buyer can claim the deposit back
  • the Natural and Technological Risk Statement (document compulsory for any property purchase in France in towns where a risk prevention plan has been drawn. If so, the Natural & Technological Risks Plan states if the town is located in an area with risks of flooding, earthquake, ground movements, drought, avalanches…and for technological risks, toxic risks, thermic risks etc…).

Cooling off period

The reservation contract is signed in double and is then sent back to the developer to be countersigned. The developer must send you a copy back by recorded mail. This can take a few days during which you can already think about your purchase.

When you have received your copy of the contract countersigned by the property developer starts a 14 days period, called cooling off period during which you withdraw without any reason (exactly the period starts the day after the 1st day the recorded mail was presented).

A section of the contract is dedicated to the withdrawal and is pre-redacted and you just have to fill it in and send it by recorded mail. Your deposit will be refunded without any penalty within 3 months at most.
If you choose to go with your purchase you must now be ready with your mortgage (if you need one) within one month.