Property in France

The FrenchEntrée Property Team answer more of your frequently asked questions

Q – We would like to buy a property we can rent out when we are not there. What would you suggest?

A – To optimise your return, you should choose a location with summer and winter rental income potential. We’d recommend focusing your search on areas in the Alps and the Pyrénées, which are popular for summer holidays and winter skiing trips. You should bear in mind that you will need someone on site to manage arrivals, departures and cleaning. Agencies charge an average of 20 per cent of the rent.

Q – I am considering buying an investment property in France. What would you suggest?

A – Rental revenues are inversely proportional to property value, so if you are looking only for rental income we’d suggest investing in lower-value properties, which will generate more rental income. Areas in which to buy such properties are major towns where there is a high demand all year round.

Q – I have always dreamed of buying a vineyard after my retirement, but have very limited knowledge of wine-making. Should I go ahead?

A – The answer is yes! You don’t need to be an oenologist to buy a vineyard. In most cases the vendors of the vineyard will stay and coach you for an agreed period of time and it is quite common for staff to stay on and work for the new owner. There is also a lot of outside help available and you can appoint a maître de chai, or cellar master on a retainer basis.

Q – Will the language barrier be an issue for contracts/paperwork?

A – Although you may find a notaire who speaks English, it’s important to know that the purchase documents will be in French and contain unfamiliar legal terms. You can easily obtain a professional translation – either while you’re there or in your home country. In France, you’ll find officially registered translators qualified to translate legal documents. Ask the agent if they can recommend an independent translator, or use the FrenchEntrée directory.

Q – My search is really open at the moment. How do I narrow things down in terms of area?

A – This is a question we often get asked. One of the main things to think about is what climate and temperatures you are comfortable with. If looking for warmer climes, then it’s best to rule out most of the northern half of the country – use the Loire river as a rough cut-off point. It’s also worth considering the kind of terrain that’s of interest, either more mountainous and hilly, or flatter (and more gentle on the suspension/for cyclists!). Think  about other geographical requisites, such as proximity to the sea, and don’t forget to check major airports or transport links and how this might tie into where you’ll be going to or coming from. Once you’ve considered all this, budget will play a large part in what you can get and where.

Q – I’ve heard that some places can be bought with the furniture included. How common is this?

A – It does happen, is the long and short of it. If the property has been used predominantly as a rental or holiday let, then the vendors may be willing to sell it furnished. Although buying a home with furniture can be a boon, especially until you get set up, it is worth keeping priorities in check. While working as an agent in France, FrenchEntrée’s Annick Dauchy had a gentleman almost pull out of a sale as he was insistent that an ironing board should be included in the deal! Buying a place furnished could cut down on initial costs, but it’s important to remain focused on what really matters: the property, not wrinkle-free clothes!

Q – I am looking for a renovation project. What things do I need to bear in mind?

A – The most important thing is to consider both your purchase budget and your renovation costs carefully. You’ll also need to research the local planning permissions in your chosen area and look into possible renovation businesses and building companies. Visit the FrenchEntrée website for an extensive list of builders and renovation companies that work in France (including British ones).

Q – I’ve heard that the French healthcare system is complicated. Is this true?

A – While the French healthcare system does differ slightly from other countries, it’s not very complicated. Appointments/treatments are paid for upfront, then mostly reimbursed by the government. Any remaining amount that isn’t reimbursed can be covered by signing up to a mutuelle, a private top-up insurance. The main advantage of the French system is being able to choose who treats you, bypassing long waiting lists and the need for referrals.

Q – We’ve fallen in love with an old farmhouse in the Luberon, but we need reassurance on certain structural aspects. We understand that it is not mandatory to have a survey carried out in France. What would you advise?

A – You’re right, property surveys are not mandatory when buying in France. They are very costly, so unless you suspect major structural issues it is far easier, quicker and affordable to hire a local builder to carry out the necessary checks, and give you an estimate. They’ll usually do this for you for free.

If you would like to contact the team for more information about the process or to get started with your property search in France call + 44 (0)1225 463 752 or email: [email protected]

Further reading:

Running costs: the added expense of buying property in France>>>

Six Steps to Buying a House in France>>>

16 Ultimate French Buying Tips>>>

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