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Understand the Compromis de Vente

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When it comes to buying real estate in Morocco, making sure you fully grasp the property sales contract is essential.

Indeed, not fully understanding the document you will sign can lead to financial losses, including the forfeiture of deposits, payment of penalties, unexpected costs, legal expenses, and potential poor investment decisions.

We've heard countless stories of people making costly mistakes when signing their property agreement in Morocco. We want to help you avoid the same experience.

We'll give here a very brief overview regarding the property sales contract in Morocco ; if you want a full checklist, please check our property pack for Morocco.

What is the Compromis de Vente / Promesse de Vente in Morocco?

In Morocco, the property purchase agreement is known as a "Compromis de Vente" or a "Promesse de Vente".

This agreement is a crucial part of the real estate transaction process. It's a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions agreed upon by both the buyer and the seller. When you enter into this agreement, it signifies a serious commitment to the transaction.

The "Compromis de Vente" typically includes details like the description of the property, the agreed-upon price, and any conditions or contingencies (such as obtaining a mortgage). It's important for both parties because it sets the legal framework for the sale.

For the buyer, it's a guarantee that the seller is committed to selling the property at the agreed conditions. For the seller, it provides assurance that the buyer is serious about purchasing.

Regarding international buyers or non-residents, there are no specific regulations that drastically differ from those for Moroccan residents.

However, it's always advisable for international buyers to be aware of the local property laws and possibly consult with a local real estate attorney or expert.

In terms of timing, the "Compromis de Vente" is typically signed after a verbal agreement has been reached and before the final sale contract (Acte de Vente) is signed. This stage is crucial as it often involves a deposit, usually around 10% of the purchase price.

This deposit is held in an escrow account and is applied to the purchase price upon completion of the sale. If the buyer backs out without a valid reason as specified in the agreement, they may lose this deposit.

Conversely, if the seller backs out, they might have to pay a penalty, often equivalent to the deposit amount.

The process in Morocco might differ from other countries in several ways, particularly in terms of legal formalities, the role of notaries, and specific property laws.

For example, the involvement of a notary in Morocco is mandatory for the final sale, and they play a crucial role in verifying documents and ensuring that all legal procedures are followed correctly.

This might be more formal compared to some countries where notaries aren't as centrally involved in real estate transactions.

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What should be included in the property purchase agreement in Morocco?

In Morocco, the property purchase agreement, known as "Compromis de Vente" or "Promesse de Vente", must adhere to specific requirements to ensure its validity and legality.

This agreement is governed by Moroccan real estate law, which lays out the necessary elements and clauses that need to be included.

Firstly, the agreement should contain complete details of both the buyer and the seller, including their full names, addresses, and identification information.

It must also have a detailed description of the property, including its location, size, and type. The agreed-upon purchase price must be clearly stated, along with the payment terms.

Mandatory clauses typically include the agreement's validity conditions, such as obtaining a mortgage approval for the buyer. There should be a clause specifying the deposit amount, usually around 10% of the purchase price, and the conditions under which it may be forfeited. The agreement must also state the completion date or the timeline for the final sale.

Additional clauses can vary based on the specific agreement between the buyer and seller. These might include conditions regarding property inspections, any repairs or modifications to be made before the sale, or other specific terms agreed upon by both parties.

Contingencies are an important part of the agreement. They can include conditions such as the sale being subject to the buyer obtaining a mortgage, the property passing a structural survey, or other specific conditions that must be met for the transaction to proceed.

In terms of authentication, the agreement must be authenticated by a notary in Morocco.

The notary plays a crucial role in ensuring that all legal requirements are met and that the agreement is valid and enforceable. The notary also oversees the final sale contract ("Acte de Vente") and ensures the transfer of the title.

Real estate agents in Morocco may assist in the process, helping to negotiate terms and facilitate communication between the buyer and seller.

However, their involvement does not replace the need for a notary. The agent may also help in drafting the initial agreement, but it's the notary who ensures its legal standing.

What's the signing process like?

In Morocco, the process of signing a property purchase agreement, or "Compromis de Vente", is a structured and formal procedure.

Here's a detailed explanation of how it works.

The agreement is bilateral, meaning it needs to be signed by both the buyer and the seller. It's possible for multiple buyers or sellers to be involved in the transaction. In such cases, all parties must sign the agreement.

Both parties need to provide certain documents and information. This typically includes personal identification (like a passport or national ID for Moroccan residents), proof of ownership from the seller, and any relevant property documents (such as a title deed).

The buyer may also need to provide proof of funds or mortgage pre-approval if applicable.

Here is the signing process and timeline:

Signing Process Description

Drafting the Agreement

Initially, the agreement is drafted, detailing the terms of the sale, including the property description, sale price, and any contingencies.

Review and Amendments

Both parties review the agreement. Any necessary amendments are made during this phase.

Signing the Agreement

Once the terms are agreed upon, both parties sign the agreement. This is usually done in the presence of a notary, who ensures that the document is legally compliant.

Paying the Deposit

Upon signing, the buyer typically pays a deposit, generally about 10% of the sale price.

Traditionally, signing requires physical presence, particularly for notarization.

However, depending on the current legal provisions, there may be options for remote signing or using a power of attorney if one of the parties cannot be physically present.

There's no fixed deadline for signing the agreement; it depends on the mutual arrangement between the buyer and seller.

Once signed, the contract remains valid until the final sale is completed, usually marked by signing the final sale deed ("Acte de Vente") and transferring the property. This period can vary but is often outlined in the agreement.

The signed agreement and subsequent property transfer must be registered with the local land registry in Morocco. This registration is crucial as it legally records the change in property ownership.

After the agreement is signed, making amendments is generally not straightforward and requires the consent of both parties. Any significant changes might necessitate drafting a new agreement or an addendum to the existing contract.

The timeframe for completing all necessary paperwork and obtaining approvals can vary.

After signing the purchase agreement, the final sale is usually completed within a few months, depending on factors like mortgage approval, property inspections, and the efficiency of the notarial process.

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How is the payment handled when signing a property purchase contract in Morocco?

In Morocco, the financial aspects of a property purchase agreement are quite specific and it's important to understand them clearly.

When you sign the sales agreement, known as the "Compromis de Vente", you are typically required to pay a deposit. This is part of the overall purchase price.

The standard down payment is around 10% of the property's sale price. This percentage can vary based on the agreement between the buyer and seller, but 10% is a common practice.

Apart from the down payment, there may be additional costs, such as notary fees or administrative charges. These vary depending on the property's value and the complexity of the transaction.

The payment is usually made to an escrow account, not directly to the seller. This account is often managed by the notary or the real estate agent involved in the transaction. It ensures that funds are securely held until the completion of the sale.

The down payment is typically due upon signing the agreement. The exact timing should be clearly stated in the agreement.

In Morocco, there are property transfer taxes and possibly other tax implications. The buyer usually pays a registration tax, which is a percentage of the property’s sale price. It’s important to factor in these taxes when considering the overall cost.

You can negotiate the down payment amount with the seller, though it’s common to stick to the 10% standard. Any variation should be mutually agreed upon and reflected in the sales agreement.

If the sale falls through, the conditions for refunding the down payment depend on the terms of the agreement. If the buyer is at fault (e.g., backing out without a valid reason), the deposit might be forfeited. If there are contingencies like a failed inspection or financing not being secured, and these conditions are not met, the down payment may be refundable.

Generally, the down payment should come from your personal funds. Mortgage loans are typically used to finance the remaining balance of the purchase price after the down payment.

Attorneys or real estate agents can assist in handling the payment process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and the transaction is handled smoothly. They may facilitate the transfer of the down payment to the escrow account.

You should definitely request a receipt or confirmation of payment when you make the down payment. This serves as proof of the transaction and is important for your financial records.

Both parties may face tax implications. The buyer, as mentioned, typically handles property transfer taxes. The seller may be subject to capital gains tax if the property has appreciated in value since they purchased it.

What are the potentials risks and pitfalls?

You might be interested in reading our article about the common risks and pitfalls surrounding a property transaction in Morocco.

Understanding the risks and pitfalls associated with property purchase agreements in Morocco is crucial for both buyers and sellers.

Both the buyer and the seller can potentially withdraw from the agreement, but this depends on the terms specified within the agreement itself. These terms should clearly outline the circumstances under which withdrawal is permissible.

Morocco's property transaction process does not typically include a statutory cooling-off period, unlike some other countries. Once the agreement is signed and the deposit is paid, it's considered legally binding.

However, specific terms might be negotiated into the agreement to allow for a form of cooling-off period.

If a party wishes to withdraw from the agreement, having a valid reason is crucial, especially for the buyer. Common valid motives include failure to secure financing or discovering legal problems with the property title.

If a buyer cannot secure financing and this contingency is included in the agreement, they can usually back out of the deal. The deposit may be refunded in such cases, depending on the specific terms agreed upon.

If one party fails to fulfill their obligations as outlined in the agreement, penalties can apply.

For instance, if the buyer backs out without a valid reason, they may lose their deposit.

Conversely, if the seller fails to complete the sale as agreed, they might be required to pay damages to the buyer.

Penalties for non-compliance are often monetary. The most common scenario involves the forfeiture or refund of the deposit, based on who breaches the agreement and why.

In many countries, property transactions include a cooling-off period, more flexible financing contingencies, and possibly less stringent penalties for withdrawal.

Moroccan property law can be more rigid, with a greater emphasis on the binding nature of the initial agreement.

Buyers should be wary of issues like unclear property titles, undisclosed property defects, or unrealistic completion dates. Sellers should ensure that the buyer is financially capable of completing the purchase.

Misunderstandings or misrepresentations in the agreement can lead to disputes.

Disputes arising from property transactions in Morocco are usually resolved through legal channels. This often involves negotiation, mediation, or, if necessary, litigation. Seeking legal counsel is advisable when disputes arise.

If defects or issues with the property are discovered after signing, the course of action depends on the terms of the agreement and Moroccan law. If the seller knowingly hid defects, they could be liable for damages.

In practice, disputes might arise over property boundaries, defects, or failure to disclose certain information.

These are often resolved through renegotiation, monetary compensation, or legal action in more severe cases.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.