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Offre d'achat / compromis de vente


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here's another situation which I can't find specific links to on the forum and could use a bit of advice on.

I'd first like to make it clear that I don't suspect the estate agent mentioned below (not by name) is involved in any foul play - she's been really helpful and responsive.

It just seems that many agents seem to come to viewings armed with

little (and sometimes no) information, even if the house has been

on the market for over a year.

After viewing a month ago, I have made an offer by email on a house the agent is selling.

Question 1 : how legally binding is an offer made by email before anything else is signed?

As there was no printed information avilable at the viewing, my email contained a list of 5 'caveat venditor' points, the last of which was :

5. That we can retract our offer if, after receiving cadaster

references and various certificates, the true situation deviates from

the information supplied at the

time of viewing.

During the house viewing the agent phoned the vendor to obtain clarification on 2 things, namely :

- the age of the roofs and the construction material used for the slates. I noticed straight away that the shingles were not real slate.

The vendor told her the roof was 10 years old. As the use of asbestos was banned in France in 1996, a 10 year old roof (1999) could (or should) not contain asbestos.

It would also probably still be under guarantee.

The second point was :

- Had the beams been treated for worm? The vendor told her they had.

Three weeks passed while I waited for any detailed information. I received a fax yesterday (the only printed information to date) with various bits of information, bills and receipts.

It transpires that the roof for the main house is 20 years old and the youngest roof on the property is 15 years old, meaning that it is highly likely that the roof tiles are made of asbestos - which was my initial

suspicion at the time of viewing.

There is no reference to the worm treatment at all in the printouts, except for a quote from an architect. 

To my mind the roof question deviates from point 5 of the 'caveat venditor' list.

Question 2 : Is this the case legally?

There are also some minor questions about the boundary lines, fosse septique and electrics but these will all be clarified next week when the 'expertises' will be carried out. I have been told to expect a full report the following day in English and French.

Ok, so after I got the fax, I received an 'offre d'achat' from the agent's office which has been filled in and awaits a signature.

The form is printed in both English and French. The agent has filled out her entries in hand written French.

Everything seems as it should be, except that my suspicions have been aroused by what I saw in the section that says " I shall settle the balance as follows....". The agent has written the following :

A la signature de l'acte authentique, au moyen de mes deniers personnels provision pour frais d'acte : 12,800 euros.

I can't find an accurate translation for deniers personnels. Anyone?

She has also crammed into the same space a sentence beginning "conditions suspensives a la vente....." and has added 3 of the items from my 'caveat venditor' list.

She has missed out point 5, and the remaining one is now irrelevant.

Question 3 : from book reading and other entries on this forum, I believe that the "conditions suspensives a la vente....." should go into an entirely separate doument - the compromis de vente.

As far as I know, she shouldn't be mentioning them here at all.

Is that the case or am I being overly careful? Should I ask her to remove them and deal with them in a separate document?

Question 4 : What is the legal difference between the 'offre d'achat' and the 'compromis de vente'.

Ideally, I want to to wait for the result of the 'expertises' and then fire a load of questions before I sign anything at all!!

The horror stories I read on various forums are causing me to tread a very cautious path with a torch and a suit of armour. I'd  very much like to avoid writing

my own cautionary tale here in 10 months.

That's it! Thanks for any tips in advance.

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Do you have a Notaire involved here anywhere yet?  I would have thought that because of the detailed legal questions that you're asking, you should really speak to a legal expert about this, if people here give you the wrong information - and it has been known to happen - you have no redress, at least with a Notaire you can always go back to him/her.
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