A quick overview of the six steps you need to go through to buy a house in France. We also have a more detailed guide available. Of course, you can always find more information by browsing FrenchEntrée…
1. Identify the search area
France Métropolitaine (mainland France plus Corsica) is made up of 22 very different regions. Which one will you choose? Consider what sort of house you want, permament or holiday home, accessibility from the UK, the amount of time you intend to spend there and of course your lifestyle. Take a look at the FrenchEntrée’s interactive map of France to help you to make an informed decision.
2. Set your budget and get your mortgage ready
Contact a mortgage advisor to establish how much you can afford in euros. You can either borrow in your own country of origin or borrow in France through French banks. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so you should always obtain professional advice from a qualified mortgage adviser to review your situation. You can get your mortgage pre-approved through an independent mortgage consultant.
3. Open a currency account
When you are on holiday you can walk into any high street bank or bureau de change and exchange currency, but this is not a casual purchase. For larger amounts or regular payments, it pays to involve a specialist foreign exchange dealer. They always offer more competitive rates. Using a forward contract to buy or sell currency in the future can protect your funds against adverse currency movements. Start making savings before your first viewing trip, as costs can soon add up.
4. Plan a viewing trip
Make sure you have appointments booked with agents – don’t expect to just walk in and see someone. A licensed French buyer’s agent within The French Property Finders network has access to all properties on the market through agents, Notaires or private sellers. They take your detailed requirements and make visits on your behalf to rule out any properties that don’t measure up so that you make the most of your viewing trips over to France. Contact a property finder to plan your viewing trip or browse our property database.
5. Make an offer
If you have found the right property, don’t be afraid to make an offer, even if you dip below the asking price. An offer that is well thought out, realistic and brought across politely will rarely offend the vendor. The estate agent might already indicate that an offer is negotiable, but keep in mind that he or she is hired by the seller and cannot represent both sides in a price negotiation. Ask for advice from the estate agent or your FrenchEntrée advisors. If you have engaged a property finder, you can ask them to negotiate on your behalf. This way you’ll be capitalizing on their extensive local knowledge and making sure that you are not overpaying for your property and that you get the best deal possible.
6. Sign the contracts
The Compromis de Vente is the first formal and legally binding stage in the property purchase process in France. Once signed, the Notaire will carry on the process of checking records and documentation regarding the property and land. Two to three months is normal but sometimes it can move faster or slower, depending on the particular circumstances of the parties involved.
These are just the basic brushstrokes, there’s lots of detailed information on our site.
Search our FrenchEntrée property database to get an idea of what is available for sale, then call us on +44 (0)1225 463752 for more details or advice. To contact the French Property Finders email email@example.com or call +33 652 36 06 64.
Sylvia Edwards Davis, Property & Living Editor
Disclaimer: This guide is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice regarding any aspect of purchasing a French property. If in doubt, you should consult your estate agent, legal or tax adviser. FrenchEntrée cannot be held responsible for the consequences of decisions or actions you may choose to take in connection with viewing trips or a property purchase.