Tips for buying property in France
If you’re one of the many Brits who dream about owning a property in France at some point, then 2016 could well be the ideal time for you to make the move. With an increasing number of analysts predicting the continued advance of sterling well into 2016, Brits will be placed to maximize their investment prospects on the French property market.
France remains the most popular European destination for Brits buying abroad, with approximately 200,000 owning property in the country. With house prices in France falling steadily over the last few years, and long-term mortgages cheaper than ever before as a result of the week Euro and surging pound, the lure now, is arguably stronger than ever before.
The financial appeal aside, it’s not hard to see what sways so many Brits. From the stunning low-lying, rolling green hills of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Roussillon. To the timeless charm and beauty of Frances metropolitan jewels of Paris, Nice and Marseille, the majesty of the Alps, and of course the sun kissed opulence of the Riviera. France has it all!
Buying property in France, is actually very straight forward and well-regulated process. As is always the case when buying property, you can encounter problems or complications, but more often this is caused because buyer have not fully understood in advance, exactly how the process works.
Below are some key points to consider before you make the leap!
Choosing a Location
The majority of overseas buyers purchasing property in France will do so via estate agents. First things first, make sure they are a member of a registered body FNAIM, SNPI or UNPI (to name a few!). This way you can ensure that the information you receive is reliable and trustworthy. Many Estate agents will be able to provide you with an English speaker, and they in turn will be able to advise and inform you on various locations that best suit your aims and desires. Give plenty of consideration to the sort of location you can see yourself settling in. Factors to consider are price, transport, education (if you have kids), and employment opportunities. The more information you can provide you’re estate agent, the more likely you are to fall in love with one of their recommendations! Some of the more destinations in France for Brits include Provence, French Riviera, Dordogne and Brittany.
Clearly, pricing is a key factor to consider where you’re looking to buy a property (at least for most of us!). For the price of small apartment in Saint Germain-des-Prés in Paris, you could quite easily buy a large country estate in the Mayenne. In addition, you will also need to factor in the cost of living in that particular area. While it is fair to say, that the essentials of of everyday life in France like food and energy bills, tend to be much the same irrespective of location. There is significant regional variation in local taxation, a reality which has become even more notable in recent years.
Seek independent legal advice before you sign anything!
Before signing the contract, seek independent advice on the content of the contract. While you will be provided with a translation copy, only the French version will count in the event of a legal dispute so if you don't speak French, ensure you have someone that does go over it. Alway bear in mind, that it is so often what is left out of contracts which are the source of most problems and disagreements. While buying property in France is overwhelmingly, a smooth process for the majority of Brits, contracts are legally binding, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and ensure you are happy with it before you sign!
Understand all the additional costs involved!
The costs involved in purchasing property in France, extend beyond the cost of the property itself and can be alarmingly high in some cases. The Notaire’s fee (this includes stamp duty) can be anywhere in the region of 6 - 8% of the purchase price. You will also need to factor in the agents fee, which tends to be around 5 - 10% of the purchase. You are also legally required in France to have fire and public liability insurance. It is usually possible to continue on with the previous owner’s insurance policy, but this is something you should check beforehand! The normal rule that is applied in these circumstances (unless you are instructed otherwise) is that the insurer will continue the policy in your favour for around 90 days.
Buying property in France for the most part is a fairly straight forward and painless process. As long as you approach the process with due diligence and do the necessary research beforehand, you’ll be well on your way to successfully owning you’re very own French property.