Exquisite living

A Dictionary of French Real Estate Vocabulary

19 October 2017

Buying property in a foreign country can seem terribly daunting, but the French system is actually very straightforward and protective of buyers. We have compiled a list of some commonly used words and phrases. Do not fear! Your agent at French Partners Real Estate will also act as your advisor and personal translator throughout the process...

Acte Authentique

Deed of sale

Assemblée Générale

A general meeting of all members of a condominium and the governing body. These meetings are normally held annually and outline issues, budget, and works for the condominium.


In real estate terms, a 'un bien' refers to a property.



Charges de copropriété/charges courantes  

The running charges of a condominium. These can include administration, building insurance, cleaning charges, gardening, water, and heating, among other things.


Air conditioning

Compromis de vente

The preliminary sales act. This is a legal document which will outline all conditions of a sale and a deadline for the signature of the final act.

Conditions suspensives

Any conditions of the sale. Failure to complete these conditions from either the buyer and/or the seller can result in the annulment of the sale.


Condominium. In France, when you purchase property in a collective building or group of buildings, you subsequently become part of, and have a share in, the condominium. The condominium is organised by either a professional body named a syndic or by the individual owners themselves or syndic bénévole (volunteer).

Coup de cœur

Literally a ‘blow of the heart’. This is a french term used to describe a must-see property.

Cuisine américaine

An open-plan kitchen

Délai de rétractation SRU

This is a period of 10 days granted to buyers after signing the preliminary sales contract and receiving all relevant documents. During this period, the buyer may retract from the sale for any reason whatsoever. This privilege is only available to the buyer and at the end of this time, the contract becomes binding. You may also see this referred to as a ‘cooling-off period’.

Dépôt de garantie

Sale deposit. Sales in France normally require a 5 - 10% sales deposit to be put down upon the signing of the preliminary sales agreement. The deposit is held in a government-regulated escrow account until completion.

Détecteur de fumée

Smoke alarm


The diagnostics are a full survey report of the property which provide information regarding electricity installations, surface area, gas installations, presence and levels of lead, asbestos, termites, and natural and technological risks .

Douche italienne

Walk-in shower


Energy efficiency rating


The position of a property or room in relation to its direction; north, east, south, or west.

Frais de notaire

Notary fees. These are calculated at around 8 - 10% of the sale price and include VAT and registration taxes (please note that for most new build properties, the notary fees are reduced).


Agency fees. You may also see this referred to as ‘commission d’agence’ or ‘frais d’agence’. These fees are normally included in the sale price at the charge of the seller (vendeur) but may sometimes be at the charge of the buyer (acquéreur).


Real Estate 

Loi ALUR  

A law introduced in France in 2015, which is designed to protect owners and buyers of property within a condominium. This law imposed further documentation required for the signing of the preliminary sales contract in order to give the buyer a full picture about the legal and financial status of a condominium.

Loi Carrez

The legal surface area of a property within a condominium.


Units. All condominiums are divided into different ‘lots’ or units. A parking space, for example, may be classed as one unit. All legal documents relative to a property stipulate which units make up the property.

Mandat de vente

A sales contract giving a real estate professional the right to advertise and sell a property.

Marchand de biens  

Property developer


Notary or solicitor. The notary is a qualified official.

Parties communes

The communal areas of a collective building.


Room. In real estate terms, the ‘pièces’ of a property refer to bedrooms and living areas. For example, a ‘2 pièces’ refers to a 1-bedroom property, a ‘3 pièces’ to a 2-bedroom property and so forth.

Prêt/crédit immobilier



Restauration of a building’s façade.

Règlement de copropriété

The rules of a collective building.


Reputation/standard. In real estate terms, a building of ‘grand standing’ is well-reputed and well looked after.

Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)

A French civil company which owns property.


The body of people which organises and manages a condominium. This is habitually carried out by real estate professionals but is occasionally organised by volunteers live within the condominium (syndic bénévole). This organisation oversees accounts, insurance, bills, and works among other things.

Taxe foncière

Yearly property tax

Taxe d’habitation

Council tax

Contact us to find out more about the sales process in France or to discuss your real estate project.

N.B. No information provided in this article can be constituted as legal advice. Contact our legal team for reliable and confidential advice.

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