ASK THE EXPERTS
The FrenchEntrée property team answers more of your questions
Q I’ve been looking at properties online, but can’t find an exact location/address. Is this information available anywhere?
A Unlike in other parts of the world, estate agents in France rarely disclose the exact location of properties, asking prospective buyers to meet them at their offices prior to a viewing instead. Properties can often be listed with several agencies at once, so it makes sense for agents to ensure they don’t get bypassed. However, important information such as proximity to neighbours, amenities and main roads is always available on request.
Q What is a notaire and what role do they play?
A Once an off er has been accepted by both parties, a notaire will need to be involved, acting to guarantee of the legality and authenticity of contracts. Notaires act on behalf of the state, and it is a legal requirement to hire one to oversee any purchase. Their fees are usually 7-8% of the property purchase price, but this does vary according to the region you’re buying in, so it’s worth doing a little research beforehand. More information about the role of the notaire.
Q I’m planning a trip to France to view properties. Is covering several départements manageable?
A Something that we hear quite often from prospective buyers, upon returning from France, is that they underestimated the distance and driving times between départements and regions. Therefore, when picking out properties and scheduling viewings, it is important to consider how far apart the properties are. Do not arrange too many visits across different areas on the same day and, crucially, don’t overstretch yourself. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the property team for advice on travel times and how best to plan your itinerary.
Q If I don’t speak French, will the language barrier be an issue for contracts/paperwork?
A Although you may find a notaire who speaks English, it is important to realise that all the documents will be in French and contain unfamiliar legal terms. But you can easily obtain a professional translation either in France 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 I’m interested in buy-to-let properties. Where should I be focusing my search?
A If you are looking for long-term tenants, buying a city-centre apartment is a sensible option. The safest places to invest are, not surprisingly, Paris and the Mediterranean coast. Generally, any major town in France is a safe bet for rental revenue. Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Marseille will generate a good income for less initial outlay than the likes of Paris, Nice or Cannes.
There are ultimately two types of investors: those who require maximum income and see the property strictly as an investment; and those looking for a good income but keen to use the property themselves from time to time. The first type of buyer should concentrate on finding a studio, or a one- or two-bedroom apartment in an urban area with good employment opportunities. The second type should be focusing on finding a pleasant environment for holidaymakers and be willing to give up their flat or house during high season.
Q I’m concerned about the hidden costs of buying in France. Should I always inquire about the taxes each property is subject to?
A Yes and no. Of course it is important to establish exactly what living in France will cost so you can budget accordingly. However, unless the taxes of a property are likely to influence your final decision, at the viewing stage it is not necessary. If it is of real concern, wait until you have seen the property and speak to the agent then.
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]