This year has already started with great news for anyone owning or thinking about owning a property in France.
Under the new rules approved by the French parliament, British second homeowners will be able to stay in France for up to six months without a visa – a huge improvement on the 90 days in every 180 days currently permitted.
For many, the new legislation will mean its time to start looking for the French property they’ve always dreamed of – whether it’s a Burgundy Chateau, a fixer-upper in the Dordogne, or an apartment on the French Riviera.
But what’s the best way to get started?
Why not plan a visit?
Before diving into the world of French real estate, you’ll want to test the waters with a scouting trip. This allows you to explore the diverse range of properties available and which area suits your needs. From rustic retreats in wine country to vibrant urban centres and scenic ski resorts, France offers many choices for potential homeowners.
Before you go, there are some important things to consider helping make your trip as productive as possible!
French estate agents are often booked up in advance, so it’s worth arranging some appointments before you travel. When you’re working out how much time you need for a viewing trip, ensure that you’ve left time not only for travelling between locations but also for repeat viewings and a chance to get a feel for the location.
It helps to look at your finances in advance because you may well fall in love with a property on your first exploration trip. It’s up to you how far along in your plan you want to be before you visit, but at least having an idea of whether you intend to take out a mortgage, pay in cash, or both is a useful decision to have made ahead of time.
If you make an offer and it is accepted, you will need to sign a formal contract – the compromis de vente - and at this point, after a brief cooling-off period, you are generally legally committed to buying.
By understanding in advance how you will pay for that property, you’ll be able to determine how much you can afford. If you do decide to use a French mortgage to finance your purchase, it is a good idea to have make enquiries beforehand too, as the lending criteria are often significantly different than in the UK.
Before you go on your scouting adventure, we also recommend starting to think about the impact of foreign exchange. And if you are holding a different currency than Euros, it is very important to consider how you will exchange your funds, as exchange rates can substantially impact the final cost of the property.
Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating. Imagine getting to the point of buying your dream property, and the price is different from when you made the offer. That’s the reality of the foreign exchange market – small changes make BIG differences when you exchange a large amount of money.
For this reason, it may be worth considering opening an account with a foreign exchange specialist before you start looking at properties. This allows you to develop a better understanding of the currency exchange market and get comfortable with the process of exchanging funds.
Using a Currency Specialist
A currency specialist will assess your situation, timeframe and budget to help plan any payments and give you complete transparency over the market and how it is behaving.
You can also take advantage of services like regular updates on available rates to help you plan your budget. Having the account already in place also means that the moment you find your dream property, you’ll be well placed to act – but don’t worry, there is no cost or obligation to use the account if you don’t find a suitable property.
You could even fix the rate beforehand if the rate is favourable using a tool called a forward contract*. This allows you to avoid any fluctuations that can affect the final price in sterling. Alternatively, you can track or even target a specific rate, which could help you maximise your money in France.
Exchange rates play a vital role in determining your budget, and that’s why it’s so important to do your homework before you go. A currency exchange specialist like Moneycorp can offer you competitive rates and efficient service and give you access to an exchange specialist who can guide you through the process and explain the tools available for overseas payments.
With a Platinum Trusted Service Award 2020 from independent review site Feefo and 40 years of experience in the industry, FrenchEntrée has been recommending Moneycorp for more than 15 years. During this time they have helped thousands of client planning the best way to pay for their property as well as supporting them afterwards with any further payment from paying bills, mortgages to repatriating UK pension payments for those who have retired to France.
Furthermore, we have worked with the same person at Moneycorp for more than a decade! You might be familiar with her as she often writes for our French Property News magazine. She has 13 years’ experience in foreign exchange, and is a qualified European lawyer with experience in European transactions. Mar will be happy to answer any questions or enquiries to support you through these difficult times
Opening an account is really easy and free of cost. You can register online or over the phone in a couple of minutes and for FrenchEntrée readers there are no transfer fees in any payment.
Lead photo credit : TaxRebate.org.uk
Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *