Is it possible to set a time limit for completion of the acte de vente when buying a property?

Hello again, everybody.

The truth is that the time left to buy a property in France before the end of the year to benefit from the Brexit Withdrawl Agreement is getting tight. The thing that worries us is the acte de vente (completion of sale) dragging on into the new year.

Our intenion is to make a completion date before Dec a requirement in the acte de vente.

So two questions;

  1. Is it valid to include a firm date in the acte de vente?
  2. If the sale drags on to 2021 (that is, if the requirement is not met) what are the costs to the sellers?

Thanks in advance for any comments.

There may be many reasons why a firm date cannot be achieved not least of which is the requirement for SAFER to consider the sale.
To «guarantee» (as best you can) your right of residence in France for purposes of the WA is to rent a property and not head full tilt into something you might later regret.


Unless you intend to live here full time before the end of the year is there any real benefit?

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Hi Timothy,

Yes the intention is to move to France full time (at the end of March we were about to make an offer on a house but the Trump virus caused a little problem). The problem at the moment is that we have found a house that fits our needs but the owners do not think they can guarantee to complete before the end of the year.

The income requirements as a third country national (move to France next year) seem a little steep.

Hi Graham

We have actually suggested to the sellers that they rent us their gite from December and complete the acte de vente in 2021. The reason I ask these questions is to find out if the acte de vente can be delayed indefinately by the sellers… that is, is there any chance we could end up still living in a rented gite in 2022 because the sellers dragged their feet. Paranoid, I know, but I like to fully understand situations before I commit. Smiles.

Once you have signed the compromis de vente getting the acte takes a while but if you are renting somewhere and you signed a c de v and have paid, surely that is just a formality - the paperwork takes however long it takes but it is your house. It won’t last indefinitely but it may take a while all the same.

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also bear in mind that the residency model in some parts of France (like Paris for example) is renting not ownership so renting a property is not so munch out of the question…

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Hi Veronique

Thats what I wanted to hear… but I now have to consider a third party (ie SAFER) intervention that may interfere with the sale.

The safer is really just a formality - how much agricultural land is concerned in your sale?

Just a thought… could you perhaps make an arrangement with your Seller that if they cause a delay … over 3 months… they halve the rent on their gîte… ??? :thinking: (or deduct the rent received from the price of the property… :slight_smile: ) no idea if it would be possible or even legal… but it’s worth thinking about… perhaps

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Hi Veronique
There is some, grass that is being cut for horses by a local farmer (quid pro quo deal). Most of the land is wooded. My understanding is that SAFER must take the entire property, including the house, if they wish to purchase.

Yes, if they want to pre-empt they must take the lot AND have someone lined up to make use of the land in a way which fits in with the agricultural enhancement of the area. The notaire should be able to tell you roughly how long it will take the SAFER to decide - they took about 4 weeks when I bought my house here in 24. You can get more information by looking at the SAFER site for your region (google it).


I don’t see why. If you intend to move to FR and stay, as a resident, all that is required is to be in FR with the [‘demonstrable’ ?] intention to stay, before 31/12/20.

" The withdrawal agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union provides for a transition period to run until 31 December 2020. During this period, British citizens and their family members already living in France or wishing to move to France before 31 December 2020 retain their rights as European citizens and are not required to hold a residence permit. Pursuant to this agreement, these citizens will need to apply for “withdrawal agreement” residence permits. However, they have a long timeframe in which to make their application since they will only be required to hold a residence permit as of 1 July 2021."

The procedures for buying a property in FR are not time-limited by the Transition Period.

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Hi Christopher

By this I mean that the time to get an compromis de vente and the acte de vente (completion) before the end of the year is tight. Even more so if you do not have a house ‘in your sights’ at the moment.

However, you do raise an interesting question. I assumed from everything I read that to prove we intended to become French resisdents and benefit from the withdrawl agreement we would have to be living in France (either owners or renting) before the end of 2020. Are you suggesting that initiating buying a house in France in 2020, even if the sale does not complete before 2021, that this would be proof of our intention to become permnent residents and benefit from the withdrawl agreemen? Even if we did not physically move from England to France until 2021.

On re-reading your reply it seems we MUST be in France before end 2020. (renting or owning)

several of us have suggested you rent… and you have already got that sussed (I thought) …

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I recommend you read the page from which I copied the first para. That para says it all, really. It’s very straightforward.

In my view the FR are being very fair and open-handed about Brits and residency. The FR attitude is that the EU Freedom of Movement Laws are paramount. The FR are content to allow Brits to exercise FoM under the EU FoM legislation, without any additional purely French ifs or buts.

Having exercised that right to the satisfation of the FR - being on FR soil [tho’ see below] and being seen to be intending to stay, a WA CdS must be obtained by 30/06/21, even by those who already have a CdS or who have been living in FR without one, because FR, like GB, have never insisted that a CdS is obligatory. EU FoM rules rule, as far as the FR are concerned.

The procedures for buying a property do not have to be initiated nor completed by 31/12/20. It is not a limiting factor for the purposes of qualifying or not for residency. Clearly, if in process of buying a property come 31/12/20 it might go a very long way to demonstrate intention to stay - but could also be a holiday property.

I saw a puff from a Brit French property portal which featured a Brit estate agent urging people to get their skates on and do the business by 31/12/20. This was simply scare-mongering - this date is not a cut-off point as far as property purchase is concerned.

Yes, one must have established a prescence in FR by 31/12/20. But the FR are being extremely generous in this regard.

I have seen examples on the web pages [as above] whereby a person arrives in FR on [say] 10/12/31 with a contract of employment in their pocket. No problem. You made it in time - you can stay if that’s what you intend.

Another example illustrated that one need not actually be on FR soil on 01/01/21 if one has previously exercised FoM and established intention to stay - by being in FR 90 days+, for example.

Don’t rush your property purchase. The majority of your efforts should be in organising somewhere to get your feet under the FR table.