The approach in France is a simple one.

When the vendor and purchaser agree on what it is that is to be sold/purchased, that is to say the estate including any furniture, outbuildings, land, etc and have settled upon a price a sale/purchase contract is deemed to have been made.

The initial purchase contract referred to below is simply therefore a written confirmation of an existing agreement. It follows that in contrast to the UK, the searches are carried out after exchange of contracts.

This being the case, it is advisable to gain as much information as possible prior to signing the initial contract and to ensure that the contract is made subject to conditions as regards information that can only be obtained from the searches.

The vendor is obliged to provide the purchaser with certain information, for example with respect to asbestos, lead, termites, electricity, sanitation, and risks.

However, the level of protection afforded to the purchaser depends largely upon the correct drafting of the initial contract and it is therefore important to have specialist advice before signing the compromis.