Buying a property in France can be both exciting and nerve-racking. On one hand, you are realising your dream of purchasing a vacation home or taking the first step towards a move overseas. On the other hand, you are about to make a huge decision that involves legal agreements, contracts, and large sums of money—all in a different country and foreign language!
Our Beginners Guide to Purchasing a French Property and step-by-step articles will take you through the entire buying process, but with so much information to take in, where should you start? How can you be sure that you are fully prepared and haven’t missed anything?
From embarking on your French property search to signing the final Acte de Vente: this checklist is the ultimate to-do list for buying a property in France!
Before you start looking for a French Property
- Decide where in France you want to buy
- Ideally visit the area several times, including at different times of the year. Explore the localities and narrow down your search to the specific locations that fit your needs
- Decide on the type of property you want to buy
- Establish your budget for buying a property in France
- Make a list of requirements for your ideal property – include deal-breakers as well as factors that are desirable but not essential
- Do your research—read through FrenchEntrée’s Buying Property articles, familiarise yourself with the buying process, and learn from our real-life stories of French home buyers
Launching Your French Property Search
- Sign up to become a FrenchEntrée member – buying through FrenchEntrée doesn’t cost any more than going directly to an estate agent but comes with a host of benefits…
- …such as access to FrenchEntrée’s property team and experts, who can advise on your property search and individual needs.
- Search the FrenchEntrée property database and our French estate agents’ listings and create a shortlist of suitable properties
- Talk to your estate agent or property advisor, and be honest about your needs, preferences, and limitations
- If you’re based in France, you can also contact your local notaire who can advise of any suitable properties
- Narrow down your potential properties and decide on those you would like to visit
- Organise your viewing trip to France and book appointments in advance to meet with estate agent and visit potential properties
- Consult a mortgage advisor and pre-approve your French mortgage
- Set up your foreign currency account for the most competitive rates on currency exchange and consider a forward contract to protect future payments
When Visiting a Potential French Property
- Read our article on common property pitfalls and bring a list of essential questions with you to ensure you don’t forget anything
- View your property with a critical eye and note down any areas of concern as you visit each room
- Take a walk around the property, land, and surroundings—consider access, setting, and neighbours
Buying a House in France: Before You Sign
- Decide whether you want to carry out any building or structural surveys on the property—now’s the time to have a builder or architect take a look and offer estimates on renovation needs or desires
- Visit the local Mairie and ask to see the plans of the property. Enquire about planning permissions or land rights where applicable
- Make an offer on the property through your agent or notaire, and make sure you have accounted for all additional fees
- Discuss any ‘clauses suspensives’ or provisional conditions that you may want to add to the Compromis de Vente, for example, that building work is carried out or that you receive planning approval
Buying a Property in France: the Buying Process
- Sign the Compromis de Vente, adding any necessary ‘clauses suspensives’
- After the 10-day cooling off period, pay your deposit
- Carry out any building or structural surveys on the property if you have not already
- Seek advice on your inheritance provision from a Legal Advisor that specialises in French law
- For joint owners or couples, inform your notaire of your ownership preference—the default ownership structure will be “En indivision” unless you request otherwise
- Keep in touch with your notaire or estate agent throughout the process to ensure everything is going to plan—don’t wait for them to keep you updated
- Transfer the balance of your payment to the notaire’s account for the agreed-upon date
- Set up key accounts in advance including house insurance, utilities, and a French bank account
- Organise your trip to France to sign the final contracts or arrange for a power of attorney to sign it in your absence
- Attend your final viewing appointment with your notaire—be sure to confirm that the house is how you agreed, ensuring any fittings or fixtures that you agreed upon have been left in the property or any required building works have been completed
- Sign the Acte de Vente with your notaire, collect your keys… and voila!
You are now officially a French property owner!
Buying a Property in France?
From planning your property-hunting trip to collecting the keys—FrenchEntrée is here to guide you, advise you, and hold your hand through the entire process. Ready to get started on your property search? Browse our property for sale in locations all over France. About to make an offer on a potential buy? Read our step by step articles on every aspect of the purchase process then check out our property articles for the latest news, insider tips, and expert FAQs.