Our experts reveal their top property search tips to help you ﬁnd your new home in France...
Knowing where you want to buy is very important
France is a vast and diverse country and it’s paramount that you do your research to decide which area you want to live or holiday in. This may mean taking a few trips to France, to experience different areas and lifestyles, before you even start looking at property.
Plan your house-hunting trip out of season
You’ll get more attention from estate agents in spring, autumn and winter. In the summer, the market is flooded with those who combine a holiday with property viewings. Off season you’ll also see your future home when the sun isn’t shining and be able to gauge what the area is really like during the quiet months. Property bargains are also more readily found during the colder months!
Have clear objectives about the type of property you want and the price you’re willing to pay
Clearly explain your needs to estate agents, to avoid wasting your time and theirs. Set a property budget and be clear about whether it’s ‘all in’ (i.e. including the fees you’ll have to pay to the estate agent and the notaire) or not.
Don’t get caught out by chancers
Always ask to see the Carte Professionnelle of the estate agent or property finder you’re using. Although they’re (thankfully) few and far between, unlicensed agents do exist in France.
Choose your property type wisely
Look for something that has unique features but is manageable. Buying a barn in need of renovation may be cheap but it takes a huge amount of money and time to transform into a dream home. Although you shouldn’t be put off renovating a property, be careful not to overspend; which will make it impossible to resell at a realistic price. In addition, land is very affordable in parts of France but that doesn’t mean you should buy a whole hectare, which would require regular maintenance. And unless you’re willing to do it yourself, it could prove very expensive.
Be aware of French property pricing
Make sure that you’ve seen a good cross-section of the market for the type of property you’re interested in, as you’ll find it easier to judge what’s a fair price and identify a good property relative to your budget. Properties are notoriously difficult to value in France and that’s why different agents can market the same one at different prices. Also, be aware of estate agents’ individual policies. For example, the owner might want €250,000 for his house – Agent A charges 5 per cent of the sale price and will market it for €262,500, while Agent B charges 10 per cent and advertises the property at €275,000.
Don’t let language be a barrier to your search
There are many English-speaking agencies across France catering to the expat market. The FrenchEntrée property team has a strict agency-vetting policy and works solely with English-speaking agents immobiliers. Our partner agencies are also well-equipped to assist overseas buyers through the whole purchasing process – from finding a property to engaging local artisans for renovation work.
Don’t rush into buying
Make sure that the property you’ve seen really is the one for you, in every way imaginable. Ask yourself honest questions. Do you really want to be miles from the shops? Are you totally comfortable having no neighbours within easy reach? If the house is to be left unoccupied for long periods of time, does having a neighbour to keep an eye out for you outweigh the need for tranquillity? Remember, your priorities may change over time and moving quickly in France isn’t always possible.
If you’re buying property in France
Maximise your spending power by familiarising yourself with the different contracts offered by currency exchange brokers, such as moneycorp. Whether you’re transferring money now or in a couple of years, the type of contract you put in place could mean a difference of thousands of pounds. From one-off currency transfers and forward purchases to making regular monthly payments, there are many different types of contract to suit your needs, and help you get ahead in the currency exchange game.
If you’re planning to complete your purchase using a French mortgage it’s a good idea to get pre-approval from your lender
This ensures that you have the funds in place and serves as proof of your good standing and intentions to the vendor, which gives you a strong hand when negotiating. It also enables you to complete the property purchase quickly and enjoy the glory of France sooner!
For further information or help with your property search, call our consultants on +44 (0)203 773 2824 or email [email protected]