Buying a house in France is a relatively straightforward process and once you’ve made your decision things can move quickly. Our Beginner’s Guide to Buying French Property details everything you need to know, but to get you started, here’s a simple overview of the six steps that will take your dream of buying a French home and make it a reality.
1. Define your search criteria: What does your perfect French property look like?
First things first. Narrow down your search to the region of France and ideally the towns, villages, or areas that most fit your needs. There are lots of things to consider when choosing where to buy in France so take your time to decide on which region best suits you, draw up a list of pros and cons, and ideally, visit your favourite areas at different times throughout the year to be sure.
Decide on the type of French property that you are looking for. Are you looking for an investment property, a new build, a French chateau conversion, or an old farmhouse to renovate?
2. Get your mortgage ready
Set your budget, taking into account all the taxes and fees involved, as well as currency exchange—see our article on the Cost of Buying a House in France for more information. Then, contact a mortgage advisor to establish how much you can afford in euros.
You have a choice between borrowing in your own country of origin or borrowing in France through a French bank, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Before you decide, obtain professional advice from a qualified mortgage adviser who can review your individual situation. You can also get your mortgage pre-approved through an independent mortgage consultant.
3. Open your foreign currency account
When you are on holiday you can walk into any high street bank or bureau de change and exchange currency, but buying a house in France is not a casual purchase. When transferring larger amounts or making regular payments on a mortgage, it pays to involve a specialist foreign exchange dealer.
Foreign exchange dealers such as MoneyCorp always offer more competitive rates. Using a forward contract to buy or sell currency in the future can protect your funds against adverse currency movements. Start making savings before your first viewing trip, as costs can soon add up.
4. Plan your property viewing trip in France
With your budget set, mortgage pre-approved, and a list of target areas, now’s the time to launch your French property search. Browse our French properties for sale, contact French estate agents, and get together a shortlist of properties that you are interested in viewing. It’s important to remember that in France you must have appointments booked with agents, don’t just expect to walk in and see someone.
Unless you have a longer trip planned, it’s a good idea to organise these appointments in advance. The FrenchEntrée property team can not only help you with your search, but can also advise on estate agents and booking appointments, so that you can start property viewing as soon as you arrive in France.
5. Decide on the house you want to buy in France and make an offer
Once you’ve found your perfect French property, asked all the essential questions, and taken care to avoid all of the common pitfalls of French buyers, it’s time to make your move! Don’t be afraid to make an offer, even if you dip below the asking price. An offer that is well thought-out, realistic, and brought across politely will rarely offend the vendor. The estate agent might already indicate that an offer is negotiable, but keep in mind that he or she is hired by the seller and cannot represent both sides in a price negotiation. Your FrenchEntrée advisors can give you independent advice on how to proceed at this stage.
6. Make it official: signing the contacts and buying your French property
So your offer has been accepted and buying a house in France is about to become a reality —what happens now? The Compromis de Vente is the first formal and legally binding stage in the property purchase process in France. Once signed, the French notaire will carry on the process of checking records and documentation regarding the property and land. Two to three months is normal but sometimes it can move faster or slower, depending on the particular circumstances of the parties involved. Once everything is in place, you’ll sign the Acte de Vente, after which the property is yours.
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.