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Signing the Compris


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We had an aborted attempt at buying a house earlier this year - we arived at the notaires[:D] but the vendor did not[:-))]!

Even though the vendor was not there, the notaire went through the contract and we signed and he stated that the vendor could sign when they turned up - which they did not. He also did not want the deposit until during the 7 day cooling off period.

We have now found another house but there seems to be different ground rules this time. We are being told that we and the vendors have to sign the Compris at the same time and that unless the deposit is received prior to the date for signing we will not be able to sign.

Have no real problem with this just curious as to which is right. If the latter then can I conclude that if the vendors of the first house turned up a couple of days later and signed that the contract would have been null and void because both parties did not sign at the same time?


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Sorry, but that's rubbish. You did it right first time, though it's arguably better to get the sellers' signatures first, as you found out. It's normal for vendor and purchaser to sign the compromis de vente at different times, in fact it's essential when there are several sellers (as in an inheritance sale) and/or an overseas buyer. Same with the deposit - this does not become payable until the end of the so-called 'cooling off' period. Admittedly if all can be gathered together for signature and the deposit collected at the same time it saves administrative work. It just sounds as if you might be using a rather lazy notaire or agent, which doesn't bode too well for a quick and trouble-free transaction.
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Based on our own experience I would pay the deposit directly to the Notaire and no-one else.  Make sure that you include any clauses ie rubbish must be cleared from site, back door must be fixed as agreed and nail down exactly what is being included in the sale price - get an exact list drawn up.  Make sure you understand totally what you are signing, particularly if your French is not that good - I would never again solely rely on the agent or Notaire to translate the CDV for me.  Find yourself an independant translator who is well versed in the process of buying and selling in France.  Good luck - hope all goes well - enjoy your new home[:D]
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When we recently brought our house , we were all there to sign , but told the notaire would not except the chq for 7 days as we had to have a cooling off period of (I think seven days) this was for both sides . This was done and the rest of the sale went through with no probs.  Hope yours goes well too. 
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The compromis d'achat is signed to say that you will buy the house for X€ and both the buyer and seller sign.  This is when the cooling off period of seven days is applied.  The deposit is paid at this time.  All special instructions and requests are marked on this compromis.

The signing of the acte de vente is when you both sign together at the Notaires and there is no cooling off period.  The buyer's cheque will already be in the Notaire's acount and the seller can be paid straight away...I have always been lucky and walked away with the cheque but I know it varies.

I don't understand the poster's first post about going to the Notaire and the vendor not turning up.  Was it for a compromis? 

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Thank you for your replies. Alexis it was the Compris and fair enough, people can pull out before that is signed but I have related our experience below and it does have a twist. And Pads my understanding of the vendor signing the Compris is that once they sign that is it, they have no cooling off period.


Sorry about the length of this.


Came over for a fortnight house hunting. We were scheduled to see the house in question on the second Thursday - the arrangements had been made about three weeks previously.


 We arrived at the property and all the shutters were closed and no one at home. A call by the agent discovered that the vendor and 'her friend' had gone to Biarritz but the friend would be back for 9 o'clock on the Saturday. Whilst there we looked around the outside of the property and the buildings and swimming pool (which was pea green).


 We returned on the Saturday at 09:00 and the shutters were open but no one there. Then two gents appeared and said that the 'owners friend' had gone off to a distant town to get a pump for the pool! Yve discovered that the property was not locked and the two gents (who apparently were going to  help) thought it would be OK to look inside. What a state it was - covers off the gas boilers, kitchen units falling apart, worn out sanitaryware, electrics lethal etc. The 'friend' eventually returned, answered a few questions and that was it. We decided that the property was of interest and, because the agent spoke virtually no English and our French still needs a lot of work, the agent called in an interpreter. Various answers were got to questions (we later discovered that some of the answers and some of the previous info we had been given by the agent were untrue) and an offer made - Yve wanted a survey carried out (my inspection said that structurally it was sound everything else wanted changing / renewing) and I wanted this as a clause suspensive in the Compris - and the offer was passed to the vendors 'friend' but the vendor was uncontactable. We left and then went to the airoprt and flew home.


 On the Tuesday morning a message was received that the offer had been accepted. I had found a surveyor and wanted to make arrangements to have this carried out at sometime. I contacted the agency for some more precise details of the property and was informed that the offer had not in fact  been accepted - the vendors friend had but the vendor wanted to think about it overnight.


 On the Wednesday we were informed that the vendor had accepted the offer and that the information was on its way to the Notaire - we had selected one nearby who had been recommended as having excellent English - and he wanted us to have the survey carried out prior to the Compris.


 The surveyor then had fun and games arranging the appointment. For the actual inspection he was accompanied by the owner of the agency (a mother and daughter affair). The vendor had to leave prior to the completion of the survey! The survey confirmed that the structure was fine but everything else was no good. He concluded that the property was the 'dirtiest, smelliest and untidy property that he had been in for many years'.


 By next morning he had emailed the report and we called the agent and said that we were happy to proceed.


 The vendor then suggested a date and time a few days away to meet and sign at the Notaires. In view of the difficulties that had been experienced (the agents had also said that she was one of the most difficult people they had dealt with) we decided that we would agree to the date and time and arranged flights.


 We arrived at the Notaires and awaited the arrival of the agent and vendor (we subsequently discovered that the agent was due to bring the vendor). The agent arrived late and extremely flustered. The Notaire then told us that the agent had arranged to bring the vendor but the vendor had not arrived. He suggested that he went through the Compris and that we sign and that the vendor could sign when she arrived. He also added that the vendor owed money secured on the property but that need not worry us as the debts would be discharged from the proceeds of the sale before the vendor received the residue.


Whilst going through the Compris the agent was phoning the landline and mobile numbers of the vendor and always getting answerphones.


We concluded the formalities and very down we left and flew home.


 The agent was unresponsive to emails and it was only that I am fortunate to have a French colleague that I could ask her to phone to find out what was going on. The Notaire was far more responsive and kept me informed of what he was doing, including the sending of several recorded delivery letters that achieved zero response.


 The surveyor called and said that the agent had contacted him and asked him how much the survey was and whether we had paid, which he told her that we had. She told him that she was going to refund us half of the cost of the survey. Now, this is not something that we expected nor felt was the responsibility of the agent. In a subsequent call by my colleague the agent also said about refunding half of the survey cost. Needless to say that we heard nothing more about this.


 We were informed that, information had been obtained from two other Notaires and that the vendor had done this twice before - apparently the bank (who are owed the money) are happy that she is trying to sell the property and are not chasing her but she does not want a buyer (still do not know whether to believe this). Therefore, when she has a buyer she does not want the sale to go through.


The property was on a very large plot, a lot larger than the stated size of the terrain. The agent had explained that the other part of the property was owned by the commune and would not be built on. Imagine our surprise to discover that the vendor owned the whole plot and would have retained the other part and had, unsuccessfully applied for planning consent for a house! – and doubt would in future if ever the house was sold.


So my feelings of distrust. No doubt this is a very rare occurrence but as the saying goes ‘once bitten twice shy’. In fact until the vendors signature is on the Compris I will be on edge.


I believe that the vendor and agent are genuine – time will tell. Until the documents have been signed we are not making any real decisions as to what to do with the property – we did that the time before which probably made matters worse.


The reason for posting this thread was some concern as to whether we were about to embark on another voyage of disappointment and, wary of things after our previous experience due to the different ‘ground rules’ from last time.


My perception from my telephone conversations with the agent (which I hate in this type of situation much preferring face to face conversations) was that things were changing, perhaps all this not aided by my perception (that word again but as Freud said ‘perception is reality’) that the agent was trying to get things done by the day before. Fine, no problem with that in principle, after all the agent is keen to tie things up, slap the sold label on and look forward to the commission. But when there is great haste then misunderstandings etc can come in to play.


The arrangements for the transfer of the deposit had been put into place prior to my original posting – so m concern was not that great – and it was to the notaires account. Just got to wait and see what happens on the appointed day – Friday 3rd November at 16:00




As a little PS, the original notaire was Maitre Duchan at Chalabre in the Aude. He has excellent English, thoroughly went through the Compris ensuring that we understood and I would recommend him highly. In addition, when it was clear that the deal would not happen I emailed him to ask how much we owed him for the work that he had done. His reply was nothing as it was the vendor that pulled out.
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That's quite a saga.

Just to clarify, yes, the 7-day period applies only to the buyer. not the seller.

It all goes to show why it usually works out better to get the vendors to sign the compromis before it is sent to the buyer.


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also, if you offer the amount the vendor is asking then they are legally obliged to accept and that is that - it is the law.

Offers are something else though :(

Sorry to hear of the problems - and it's always harder to understand what is going on if you don't understand the lingo or what is going on.

The french system is somewhat different to the English one - it makes sense to make sure you know what is what by doing adequate research (google is your friend) first :)
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