Once your French property search is underway and you’ve started to make a list of potential properties, the next step is to start organising your house-hunting trip. From booking house viewings to the essential questions you should ask your French estate agent—here’s what you need to know about property viewing in France.
Are You Ready to Starting Visiting French Properties?
Planning a property viewing trip to France is an exciting undertaking. This is the part where the dream of buying a house in France starts to become a reality, but with so many aspects to think about, it can be hard to know where to start.
The first step is to be sure that you are ready to buy. Organising viewings if you are not ready to buy is not only a waste of time for the buyers and estate agents, but you will certainly be disappointed if you find your perfect French house and lose the opportunity to buy it due to lack of planning.
Have you considered the cost of buying a French house, enquired about a French mortgage, and read our Beginner’s Guide to Buying a French Property? Have you discussed your options with a foreign currency advisor and set up an account? Property sales in France can move quickly, so you want to be ready to make an offer and you will need your 10% deposit ready to go.
Organising Your Property Visit In France
Property viewings in France must be booked in advance—don’t expect to just walk into an estate agents or realtors (known as ‘agences immobilières’ in France) and ask to view a property. Many agents do not hold the keys to the properties, so same-day viewings are not always possible.
If you’re spending several weeks in France at a time or take regular trips throughout the year, it might be possible to visit estate agents and book appointments during your visit. However, if visiting on a week or two-week trip, it’s essential to plan ahead and pre-book house viewings before you arrive in France. Once you’ve made your shortlist of properties, you can either contact the estate agents directly to set up a visit or work with a property advisor to book appointments on your behalf.
Plan Property Visits Wisely
When organising a property viewing trip to France, try to give yourself as much time as possible. While it’s tempting to cram as many viewings as possible into your trip, you want to be able to give each property the time it deserves. Property visits can be tiring and by the end of the day, it’s easy to forget aspects you liked about previous houses, or skip asking key questions.
Ideally, meet with just one or two agents in a day, and plan to visit two or three properties, but definitely no more than five. Factor in the size, location, and travel time. Visiting five 2-bed apartments in a city neighbourhood might be easily doable. On the other hand, viewing a château conversion in the heart of the countryside followed by a remote farmhouse a 2-hour drive away will take much longer! It’s also worth leaving time to explore the neighbourhood and surroundings, especially if you find a serious contender.
When booking flights or travel to France, consider adding a spare day or two onto your trip in case you want to re-visit properties before making your decision. It can also be wise to avoid visiting in peak season or during French school holidays. Agents will often be less busy and therefore have more time for your viewings and less traffic means you will be able to get around quicker.
Visiting a French Property: Our Top Tips
You will likely be asked to sign a “Bon De Visite” by your estate agent before visiting a property—this is common practice for a property viewing in France, so don’t be alarmed. This contract states that the estate agent showing the property to you will be responsible for the sale in the event that you decide to purchase. Its purpose is to protect against the viewing party purchasing the same property through a different estate agent or trying to undercut the agent by purchasing directly from the buyer.
Property visits can take anything from an hour to several hours, depending on the size of the property and land. Make sure you dress appropriately, with suitable footwear and clothing for the weather. Bring some water and snacks too, especially if you are visiting multiple properties in one day.
Before the visit, write down any key questions you want to ask or things to look for—it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new house and forget even the most important details. Use our Buying Property checklist and Essential Questions list to ensure you haven’t missed anything, and read through our common pitfalls too. You might want to brush up on your French property vocabulary too.
During the visit itself, it’s a good idea to take notes and photos, but don’t spend all your time focusing on the details. Make sure you get a good feel for the property too and imagine what it would be like to live there or holiday there, including at different times of the year.
Be honest with your agent about things you like and dislike. This is important information that they can use to help you find a more suitable property, so it’s not in your interest to hide your thoughts or say you like it just to be polite.
Finding Your Perfect French Property
With the right planning and preparation, your house-hunting trip should go smoothly, but the real reward of a successful property viewing in France is finally finding that dream property. So, what happens now? Organising a second visit is a good idea, especially if you still have unanswered questions, and this is also the time to explore the surrounding area if you haven’t done so already.
But once you are sure that this is the property for you, don’t be afraid to make an offer—property sales can move quickly in France and you don’t want to miss out.
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 and become a FrenchEntrée member to receive property alerts and insider tips from our experts.
Want to make your French property dream a reality? Start by reading our Beginner’s Guide to Buying French Property, then follow our step by step articles detailing every stage of the purchase process.