French property law and the procedures involved in buying or selling a French property differ substantially from the English system of conveyancing.
The contract documents will, of course, all be in French; while they are occasionally supplied with translations, these are commonly generic, and not sufficiently accurate, and should problems arise, it is the French version that would be relied on in court, so this is the version that should be subjected to legal scrutiny.
The contract is often signed at a very early stage, not necessarily by the lawyer in France, the Notaire, who may indeed have no knowledge of the transaction until after the contract is binding on the parties to it. It will contain a number of conditions that may or may not protect you suitably in relation to the purchase.
That is why it is important to seek independent legal advice from a specialist, fully bilingual solicitors, from the earliest possible moment. We will be able to guide you through the various stages of the transaction, clarifying what is normal or not, pointing out what steps will be best for you to take. We will consider the fiscal implications of the transaction so that you are fully aware of these as well.
Our free guides to buying and selling French property, and to French inheritance law and tax, are intended as some useful starting points in relation to the transaction.
Here is a useful article from Living France magazine about planning considerations when building or renovating a property in France.