So you’ve read our Beginner’s Guide to French Mortgages, decided on the type of mortgage you’re looking for, and assessed your eligibility—the next step is to start your French mortgage search. To get you started, here’s a quick overview of the different mortgage lenders in France.
French Mortgage Lenders: Which is Best?
The French mortgage market isn’t quite as comprehensive or competitive as you may be used to in your country of residence. Long-term fixed-rate loans with a high-street bank are still the most common mortgage for French buyers, although that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options available.
Many high-street will consider foreign applicants, especially those with a solid financial profile, but each application will be considered on an individual basis. Equally, the rates and mortgage products available can vary enormously depending on your personal situation.
Let’s look at some of the options available.
French High-Street Banks
There are several different types of high-street banks in France. National banks such as Credit Lyonnais, BNP-Paribas, Société Générale and CIC, and mutual banks such as Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutual, Caisse d’Epargne, Banque Populaire all offer mortgage loans. La Banque Postale (France’s post office bank) also offers some competitive rates.
Mortgage types and eligibility criteria vary greatly between the banks, but most will consider mortgage applications from foreign buyers. Each of the French banks has different criteria when judging your eligibility, but generally speaking, successful mortgage applications tend to be from low-risk borrowers. If you have a solid financial profile and are looking for a straightforward fixed- or variable-rate mortgage, these banks could be a good choice. Existing clients might also be able to negotiate preferential rates.
However, high-street banks are sometimes less likely to take on anyone who differs from the ‘norm’ – some may not offer loans to self-employed clients, while others are uncomfortable considering company directors. Similarly, some may only offer repayment mortgages, others only fixed-rate mortgages, and the majority of banks won’t consider raising finance against an unencumbered property that you already own.
Another popular choice for foreign buyers are the international banks. Abbey National, Barclays, HSBC, Halifax, and Royal Bank of Scotland all lend in France. The advantage of these banks is that they often actively seek foreign investors and may offer competitive rates and products better suited to the needs of foreign buyers. They also all have English-speaking departments making it a much easier process if you opt to apply directly.
Private and Specialist Banks
There are also private banks and specialist property banks that offer mortgage loans in France and these can sometimes offer more varied solutions for foreign investors. L’UCB and Crédit Foncier are two options, but many borrowers access these loans through the use of a mortgage broker.
Using a French Mortgage Broker
Another popular choice for international property buyers is to use an independent mortgage broker. Brokers provide access to the entire French mortgage market, ensuring a comprehensive search of the mortgage products and will work on your behalf to secure the best rates.
International mortgage brokers also have a unique understanding of the needs and complexities of foreign borrowers, as well as both the French and international mortgage markets. For those with less-than-standard requirements or complicated financial profiles, this can be invaluable.
Read our article Using a French Mortgage Broker
Ready to Apply for Your French Mortgage?
From finding the best mortgage rates to making your mortgage application—FrenchEntrée is here to guide you through the whole process. Learn all about French mortgages with our Essential Reading guides, keep up-to-date with the French mortgage market through our latest posts, then sign up to become a FrenchEntrée member for free access to our property, currency, and mortgage experts.
Once you’re ready to kick-start your French mortgage search, fill out our mortgage application form. Our independent mortgage advisors can advise you on the best options for you and put you in touch with mortgage brokers and lenders all around France.
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