Our practical sheets

Our practical sheets

The different types of promises to sell

Legal documents in a real estate sale

The compromise, also called a bilateral (or synallagmatic) promise, although it is the best known, is not the only preparatory contract for the sale that exists. In certain cases, it is possible to use the unilateral promise of sale. These two promises should not be confused.

The synallagmatic promise of sale, or compromise, commits the seller to sell and the buyer to buy, subject to various conditions precedent, such as obtaining a loan(Sheet 3: What is a compromise?).

On the other hand, the unilateral promise to sell is not equivalent to a sale in its first phase: it gives the buyer an option period. The unilateral promise is signed by the seller (the promisor) and by the person interested in buying the property (the beneficiary). It only commits the seller: only the seller is obliged to sell the property to the beneficiary, under certain conditions. The beneficiary only undertakes to indicate, within a given period of time, whether he or she will purchase the property or whether he or she will renounce the purchase. Thus, in the first instance, the parties agree to reserve the property and the conditions under which the sale may take place. In the second stage, the beneficiary can "exercise the option" within the time limit, i.e. decide to buy the property. He may also renounce the sale: the seller is then released from the promise.

It is customary for the beneficiary to pay a sum of money called the immobilization indemnity at the time of signature. If the beneficiary renounces the sale, the immobilization indemnity remains, in principle, with the seller.