Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Let the buyer beware....?

I’ve always felt that the French property buying system is excellent – particularly compared to the UK system where so many things can (and do) go wrong and properties can be taken off the market just when you think you are about to sign the final contract. It is so reassuring to know that here in France, once you have signed the Compromis de Vente and the 7-day cooling off period has passed, the property will become yours. This is particularly weighted towards the buyer as, once the seller has signed the Compromis he is then committed to sell whereas the buyer has the advantage of having one week to change his mind.

This makes me wonder what Mikhail Prokhorov was thinking in 2008 when he made an offer of £360 million for the luxury Villa Leopolda in Villefranche-sur-mer in the Cote d’Azur . According to an article in the Daily Mail, he put down a deposit of £36 million and then, due to the global credit crisis, changed his mind. French courts ruled that under the terms of French property law he has lost his deposit and must also pay the owner an additional £1 million in interest.

On a happy note we hear that the owner, Mrs Safra (widow of a billionaire banker) is to donate the money to various charities – and hopefully this sum will not make too big a dent in Mr. Prokhorov’s estimated £6 billion bank balance.

The full article can be seen at: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1254867/Russian-billionaire-loses-36m-deposit-worlds-expensive-home--plus-1m-interest.html


  1. I am intrigued as to what can happen in the 7-day cooling off period that can alter the deal?
    Do many property sales fall through during this period

  2. The cooling off period is totally weighted in favour of the buyer - the seller is committed from day one (even if they die during the 7 days the family has to continue with the sale!). It is very rare for sales to fall through and usually due to people who have signed on the spur of the moment having a rethink.

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  4. With a bank balance like that, a change of mind wouldn't be down to a financial decision more like a change of heart