Find your New Build


Step 2 : from the deed of sale to the personalization of your new home

The Deed of sale

Before signing the definitive document the buyer must have received from the French notaire a draft of the Deed called ‘projet d’acte’ for at least one month.

You will receive this draft 4 to 6 months after signing the reservation contract (or earlier if you bought ‘late’). At this stage you must expect a signature appointment for the next month after receiving this document. Developers are allowed to charge you penalties if you delay the signing of the final Deed of sales.

You must have your mortgage ready, if needed, and know how you want to buy regarding inheritance and tax laws in France.
The final Deed of sales includes the following documents:

  • the site plan
  • the precise description of the property which is the object of the sale
  • the precise description of the building and its technical characteristics
  • the price and modes of payment
  • the date of release, is possible by the month
  • the suspensive clauses
  • the penalties the developer would pay if delay in release occur except for circumstances outside their control.
  • the penalties the buyer would have to pay should payment be delayed. These are stated by law.
  • the co-ownership rules
  • the financial guarantee of completion ensuring that the building will be completed or you will get paid back, should the developer happen to fail.

The signing of the Deed of sale takes place at the notary’s office in France. You can travel to France and sign the Deed of sale in the notary’s presence or his/her qualified assistant called ‘clerc de notaire’. An interpretor must attend the signing.

You can combine this travel to France to meet the developer or visit its showroom if possible in order to customize your interior or choose extras if it offers this option. If you don’t want or can’t travel to France you can sign the Deed of sale by a Power of Attorney with a Notary Public in UK specialising in French property.

As in any property transaction in France, buying off plan is under the supervision of a ‘notaire’. ‘Notaires’ represent the French government and are the only ones authorised to handle the legal aspects of property conveyancing. Their main role is to be a fair regulated body acting for both the seller and the buyer and ensuring that the transaction is made by the rules.

They deal with issues such as public law (ie rules that govern the town and the country together with tax issues) and private law ie real estate regulation). The ‘notaire’ checks the documents to ensure all the regulations have been respected and draws the deed of sale (“acte authentique”).

Stage payments

When buying off plan property the principle is that you pay as the construction is in progress and according to its progress. By law no payment is required between the reservation contract and the Deed of sale.

The stage payments are protected by the law and defined as follows: 

Schedule of the stage payments
5 %  refundable deposit for reservation, kept in an escrow account
35% when foundations are completed
70% at watertight
95% at completion

This is the legal compulsory schedule. A developer can include a more detailed schedule in its contracts as long as it obeys the general rule. You can for instance find the following stage payment:

More detailed schedule of the stage payments
5%  refundable reservation deposit
15% with the DROC (Déclaration d’Ouverture du Chantier) ie when the works start
15% when the foundations are completed
20% floor of the 1st storey
10% when the framework or terrace roof is completed
5% at watertight
15% for partition walls
5% tiling
5% completion
5% keys handover (this balance can be withheld with the ‘notaire’ in case of conformity defect)


As explained in the section on the advantages of new build when buying early your new home and provided sometimes additional expenses some changes in plans are allowed by most developers. Choices of covering and flooring are usually available and some equipment may be changed too.

Between the signing of the reservation contract and the signing of the Deed of sale take time to imagine your future new home. Let us know if you want such customisation so that we can liaise with the developer. Nevertheless remember you are buying in a development which means that all the plots are built at the same time and the works follow a precise schedule.

The developers have a precise schedule of what changes are possible and when. For technical reasons there are features that cannot be changed once it’s too late. For instance, when the electrical wiring has been drawn it might be too late to change the partitions.

If you buy early you will be able to make changes but the closer you buy to completion the least choices you will have. Some changes are absolutely impossible (creating a new window, placing a spa on a terrace for instance) because technically not feasible.

Bear in mind too that you are not buying a 100% custom built new home but a home built along with many others and following a standardized process. Therefore some other changes are possible but you will have to pay extras because you interfere with this standardized process.

Some other changes like choosing the tiling or colour of the paintings are generally free but you still have to comply with the developer works schedule. You can combine your signing of the Deed of sale with a visit to the developer representative or developer’s showroom to choose the finishing touches. Let us know if you choose to do so, so that we can assist you if you wish.

If you are using a mortgage and plan to ask for some extras you should overestimate the amount borrowed by 2,000 to 3,000 € to finance the extras since you have to raise the mortgage before knowing the precise price of your extras.