Unlike the United Kingdom probably half of all property sales are done privately, hand painted signs proclaiming "A Vendre" are commonplace in the towns, villages and roads of France. Many French people relocate within their own area so do not see the need to pay substantial commission charges to an immobilier simply for showing them a house that the owner can show them directly.
Homes can also be bought through Notaires who may be dealing with an estate, and if a purchaser wants to live in a specific area, contacting local notaires can bring positive results.
 
Notaires are the only people allowed in law for the conveyancing of property, and they (contrary to some popular opinion) do not represent you, or the vendor but the state, and are there to ensure that the legalities are complied to, the process of which is well structured and regulated.
 
Both vendor and purchaser may have their own notaire, and will share fees accordingly, but there is no real need and both parties dealing with the same notaire is commonplace.
 
It goes without saying that you will need to fully understand the process and the legal obligations, and a bi-lingual notaire, of which there are many will make that possible. It’s probable that the vendor already knows of one, having been through the process already, if that is not the case then consider hiring a translator for your time at the notaires, an expense, but insignificant in relation to the fees that you, the purchaser would pay to an estate agent for the privilege.
You can also take the option of employing specialist solicitors based in the UK to oversee the whole process.
 
The Next Step
 
Once you have agreed on a purchase price the vendor if he has not already done so will have to commission a DDT report (Dossier de Diagnostic Technique) which will survey the property for asbestos, electrics, energy efficiency, gas, lead, “natural or technological risks” and termites.
 
Structural surveys are rare, but if you wish you can commission your own by finding a RICS surveyor in France.
 
You will now need to sign a Compromis de Vente, which is a preliminary sale agreement drafted by your notaire, a binding agreement between you and the vendor which may have certain conditions included, known as ‘conditions suspensives’.This is especially important if for example your purchase is dependant on a mortgage,but could include planning issues, rights of way etc.
Once signed you have seven days as a cooling off period, and you may withdraw from the transaction without penalty, but it must be done by registered letter.
A deposit is usually paid at this time, and held by the notaire in a special account until the completion of the purchase.
 
 Completion, or the Acte de Vente takes about eight to twelve weeks later, and will be signed at the notaires, they will advise you as to the date and time, and of course you must have all the funds available.
You will also have had to have insured your new house, and provide the necessary proof.
Once the signing is complete the house is yours.
 
 

The  internet is a wealth of information available from numerous sources explaining the whole legal process, while you are looking for your new home, do as much research as possible.……. Click on "Online Resources " for a just a few suggestions.