Retraction of sale after acte de vente

We are wondering if anyone can give us information and advice on the following:
Is it possible to retract à sale after the acte de vente? We have recently sold à parcel of land which was part of our property but during the signing for thé acte de vente, just as I was asked to sign digitally the buyers disclosed new intentions for the land. If we had known thèse we would not have gone ahead with the sale.

Although our notaire speaks english he is not fluent. We did not consider à translator because we thought we would be ok. I thought I understood what was said but was so taken a back and literally at that point the notaire requested my signature.

After the meeting I explained to my husband what had passed as he was neither àware or understood . My french is à little better. It literally happened in seconds.

Can we contest this on the basis that we were not adequately advised at the meeting and not enough due care was taken to ensure we understood.

It was clear that the notaire was aware there was a problem, because I made an objection which seemed overheard. My husband and I would have stopped the process if we had properly understood.

My husband wrote à letter the next day to the notaire and now we have à meeting on the 22 february.

We are going to ask the notaire to resuest à signed agréement from the buyer to say they will discontinue this project. If that isnt accepted how do we go about contesting? How long after the acte de vente do we have ie time scale? What is the process?

Experiences, advice and information very welcome.


After the signing of the acte de vente, thats it, its sold, no going back.

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Ask the help of the notaire.

There are some technical reasons why the compromis might not proceed to the acte - the notaire professionally of course knows these. I’d advise going to the notaire face to face asap and throwing yourself on their mercy (and only if there is someone on your side in the room who speaks and understands French very well indeed).

In other words, don’t imply due care wasn’t taken etc to ensure your understanding - that’s not a good opener. Culturally I strongly suggest throw yourself on the mercy of the notaire, and seek their advice (and help) to work out a reason that allows you to withdraw ie break the sale.

Personally, wanting to keep the sale but bind the buyer to do or not do things… good luck with making that watertight anyway, but I would think too much to ask once you’ve signed the compromis. I’d ask about breaking it due to your own personal deficiencies in not catching up as things went so quickly in the meeting… As the types of reasons that might get you out of this mess are far more likely finding a technical reason to break it rather than trying to add a restriction when you’ve already signed. But I’m not an expert.

In our case the technical reason benefited us as buyers because we’d been clear to vendor about how we’d wanted to use the property throughout. But after we’d signed the compromis we found out the vendor had had more than one planning application to do the same as we wanted to, rejected over the years, and there was no reason this use would ever be approved under local plans. The notaire told us we could withdraw even though the compromis had been signed by both sides by then. And we did. We were entitled to get our full deposit back too.

As vendor I do not know what exceptions there might be but you must ask the notaire. Go face to face both of you and be frank.

Please let us know how it turns out.

What if I’ve made a mistake signing the Compromis de Vente?
Note that under La Loi SRU, you will be given a ten-day cooling-off period during which time you can withdraw from the purchase without penalty. This period runs from when you receive a copy of the signed Compromis de Vente and you should be given instructions about this period and the date before which any change of mind must be communicated in writing to the Notaire.

Its the acte thats been signed, thats the final part of the sale.


We’ve previously walked out and refused to sign a compromis but I wouldn’t want to test whether you can retract from the acte after signing without involving significant compensation…
How much are your principles worth?

Ah… well spotted :slight_smile:
I have to say in the early years I wouldn’t have known the difference…We were told we had to attend in person to do the compromis but we did not attend a meeting to do the acte… probably another reason why I took it as trying to get out of it after compromis only. Oops.

Sounds like Graham is asking the pertinent question now, then :slight_smile:


I totally agree, otherwise they will clam up.

I’m wondering if this could backfire on the sellers if they try to stop the sale which is normally not possible after the final act has been signed by both parties and monies transferred usually with a deposit first and then the balance at least 48hrs before the final acte de vente is signed, electronically is the norm now and I did this last May and HAD to make sure the balance of the amount left to pay was in the Notaire’s account beforehand as stated. What I mean in backfiring on the sellers is that after the new owners take control of the land and start whatever project etc they wish to do and sought the relevent permissions needed if any, the seller could be accused rightly or wrongly of actually knowing beforehand what the intentions were and proving it maybe difficult. To go the legal route to try and get an annulment could take years and will cost the vendors thousands of euros in fees and as we al know the only winners are the lawyers. They will be left with possibly a piece of land they might never be able to sell again. Also they will find it was upto them to have a translator at hand during the whole process of selling, I was certainly asked if I needed anyone but luckily I knew what I was doing and the builder spoke some english as did the notaire so we were fine. I honestly don’t think the OP has any chance of recinding the sale now, far too late and they will be told they should have asked the right questions from the beginning.

Nothing has been mentioned what the intentions are on the land that the new owners have required.
Doubtless @fiona_mcclean feels that the proposed use will be detrimental to them as it being formally part of their property. Will the intended use perhaps enhance the value of the land which is what is irking the seller? Surely all possibilities that the land might be used for were explored prior to the sale and it was deemed by the seller that some euros in the bank was the best option.


What intentions do they have with their new plot of land ? At the end of the day, you decided to sell, they decided to purchase and the process has legally completed. I am not sure you have any where to go with this.

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At the compromis stage, all relevent informations have to be disclosed by both parties. I would have thought the Notaire would have written clauses about non-disclosure along with all the other stuff they have to include and at the time of signing the Acte de Vente, the vendors would have been asked to read the contract and go over it paragraph by paragraph with the Notaire and the purchasers. I think the purchasers would have investigated all avenues to do what they wish with the land before paying for it and maybe now, the vendors have discovered what it is, they are not happy but basically same as buying a new car, once you take delivery you cannot decide you don’t like the colour and ask for it to be taken back and your money refunded.

Unless there was something in the Compromis binding the buyer to only use the land for a specific purpose (via a clause suspensive for example) then I doubt there’s very little the OP can do especially as they still went ahead and signed the Acte even though the buyer had revealed their true intentions.


I would think that the only possibility would be to seek an amiable agreement with the buyers to cancel the sale. Which might cost you.

I can only assume it is something related to noise, a potential eye sore or smell, or a combination of the three. It is unfortunate, but I would not try to partition any blame at all to the notaire, due to misunderstandings on the language front. I would hold out for your meeting on the 22nd, and very calmly and politely explain the situation and wait to see if anything can be done at this late stage.

If the sale does go through, it’s not to assume the buyers can secure permission for whatever project they have, and it may still be possible to object to it (having ‘protection juridique’ with your insurance helps with any potential legal costs), although I imagine it would cause a lot of ill feeling.

I think at that precise point you could have refused, but now the acte is signed it is difficult to impossible and any (very slim imho)chance of cancelling the transaction really depends on the goodwill of the buyer.


We were going to back out after signing, and were informed we could but at a cost of 39,000 euro, so we went ahead! Thought we would enjoy it for a year and sell on later

Signing the compromis or the actual acte?

And did you enjoy it and then sell?

A chilling warning for all!

We are assuming @fiona_mcclean and husband have signed the final ‘acte de vente’ or acte authentique, rather than only the prior compromis de vente?

There would be a bit more ‘wiggle’ room, but not much for the seller, if is is in fact only at the compromis stage. The 10 days cooling off is for the buyer to withdraw, not for the seller, and does not include land sales without property.

Some advice may be gleaned here

Comment et pourquoi annuler une vente immobilière ?.

If indeed, the acte authentique has been signed, the options are only legal, lengthy and without knowing proximity or exactly what the buyers plan is for the land, financially may not be worth the stress.

I certainly wish the OP luck for their upcoming visit to the notaire.

See previous posts, it a done deal, act signed. It seems to me that this is indeed a case of ACT in haste, repent at leisure and lost in translation. Speaking french is one thing but understanding legal french or english for that matter is totally different.
I wish the sellers well at their forthcoming meeting with the notaire but think we all know what the outcome will be.
Having bought, and sold a number of properties in France on conclusion of the meeting with the notaire you walk out of the office as the owner or previous owner of the house/land in question.