Buying a property in France
So you've made your mind and you're going to buy a house in France - excellent idea - but where do I start? what should I look for? which part of France do I want to live in? can I afford it? Below are a few links which will hopefully assist you in your search
If you have any questions you may wish to ask about the buying a property in France then do feel free to contact us.
BEFORE YOU START
If you have made the decision to buy a French property, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself to narrow the search and decide exactly what it is you are looking for. The answers to these questions will save you a huge amount of searching time and ensure you find a property which is perfect for your needs.
Why are you buying?
Probably the most important question of all.
- Are you planning to live full-time in France, either for work or retirement ?
- Is it for a holiday home ?
- Are you looking for an investment ?
The answer to this question is vital because it will make a huge difference to the area in which you should buy and the type of property that is best for you.
If you plan to live in the house full-time, you may want to be close to amenities like schools and shops, in a region where you will be able to work, even if that simply means an area with a reliable internet connection. You may also want to be in an area that offers things to do all year round.
If you are looking for a holiday home, you will want to choose an area with easy access by road, rail or air, and which offers a good range of activities to suit your own holiday lifestyle, be it frenetic or relaxed!. If you are considering renting out your holiday home for some of the year, you need to compare the income you can achieve in different areas.
If it’s an investment property you want, the main criterion will be to find an area where property prices and rental returns or re-sale potential fit into your calculations. Don't be taken in by developers' promises. Ask to see proof of potential income, or ask an independent estate agent if promised returns are realistic.
What do you need close by?
Once you have chosen a broad region, ask yourself these more specific questions to narrow down your search area. Do you need a school, hospital or shopping facilities close by? Do you need public transport to get about? Will good leisure facilities make your life more enjoyable? Remember that an idyllic countryside hideaway with no neighbours is wonderful for the Summer, but can feel very remote in the middle of Winter when the nights draw in.
Perhaps the most important is, do you need a peaceful, pretty location? We know all our properties first-hand and can advise on anything planned for the area that may affect them - wind farms, road construction, new railway lines, solar panel installations, high-power electrical lines, housing estates.
Which region best suits you?
France is a big country and different areas vary hugely in terms of landscape, climate, transport links and property prices, all important considerations when choosing where to buy.
Do you prefer to be near the sea, in a rural area, or perhaps a smart city? Are mountains important to you or do you prefer gentle rolling countryside? These questions are particularly important if you have a specific hobby you enjoy, such as golf, skiing, walking, cycling, sailing or horse riding.
The weather could play a big part in your future happiness: could you endure the bitter cold in many inland areas in the winter? Do you dislike being too hot? Many areas of France have long hot, dry summers. How do you feel about rain? Certain areas of north-west France have rainfall levels similar to those in the south of the UK.
Transport links are also vital, particularly if you plan to rent your property at any time. Is the region easy to access by road, or will you have to rely on air travel or train? Even if you are not planning to rent out your property, you may want to visit family and friends back home, and they will want to visit you. The low-cost airlines offer tantalisingly low prices but are constantly changing their routes so it's best to keep more than one transport option open.
Prices vary hugely across France so check out how the different regions compare with each other and with your budget. You may find that a different region offers exactly the kind of property and area that you are looking for at a lower price.
Finally, don’t underestimate the role of familiarity. If you know a region well, perhaps because you have spent several holidays there, you may feel drawn to it. This can be a good reason to consider a region as you already know it. However, make sure you are not over-estimating its attractions because you have had enjoyable, relaxing holidays there: real life is something else altogether.
See our regions guide for some ideas, and let our local agents guide you - they live and work in the area and would love to share their knowledge to help you find the right place for you..
MAKING A WISH LIST
Once you’ve answered the questions above and have a good idea where you are going to look for your dream property, now is the time to decide exactly what you are looking for. Making a wish list is a good way to focus your mind and decide what really is important to you. It will also be invaluable in helping the French estate agent to get a feel for what you want.
An ideal wish list includes:
- Age of property for sale - traditional or more modern
- Style of property - single storey, farmhouse, Maison de Maître, town house, bungalow, chateau etc
- Geographical location - anywhere in France or in a particular region/department/area
- Immediate environment - countryside, hamlet, village, town, city......
- How many bedrooms?
- How much land?
- Any works to be done on the property? - full, some or no renovation, redecoration only...
- Budget - the price shown on this website includes agency fees. You will have to budget extra for notaires fees (about 7-8%)
- When you are next in France, or in the area chosen?
Once you have decided on these factors then please send it to us and we help you with your search for a property in France.
Don’t forget your wish list is only a guide, and you may need to be flexible on certain points. One house may tick all the boxes but not really appeal, where another may be missing a few items but really tug at the heart strings. If a property lacks many of the wishes on the list, however, or has a major factor that you wanted to avoid, then don't try to talk yourself into it - it is probably not right for you, however much you like it.
When looking for a house in a foreign country, research is the key. House-hunting trips are expensive and time consuming so you need to weed out the unsuitable properties before you leave home, and only make the trip if there is something promising to see. Check out the estate agent's local knowledge and experience, and if you feel you have a good rapport with them, then trust their judgement - they should know all their properties intimately and can help you avoid the frustration of a wasted visit. Be realistic - if no advertised properties meet your criteria and budget, you have probably chosen the wrong area and may need to re-consider your criteria.
Find out as much as you can about your chosen area . You may not have time to drive around looking at different towns and villages, so again, use a local French based agent who can identify an area that fits your needs. Then when a house comes up you will already know what’s around it.
Look at as many properties as you can on the internet to get a feel for prices, and talk to French estate agents to discuss individual properties before you leave home to decide whether they are likely to be suitable. Because most French properties are on the market with more than one agent, be sure to check the property isn’t already sold before you book your trip. Be prepared to see other properties that the agent may propose - they may in the end be more suitable than the ones you have selected. And be ready to move fast if a suitable property comes up because you won’t know how many other parties are interested.
Top 10 tips for happy hunting
- Make appointments to see agents or specific houses before you leave home, to make the best use of your time in France.
- Set a realistic schedule. France is a big place. You may spend more time in the car racing from one appointment to another than seeing properties. Build in time for looking round the area, plus time for second visits in case you see something you like.
- Leave plenty of time to get to your appointments, especially if you don’t know the roads, and have the agent’s contact details with you in case you are running late. Do notify the agent of a change of plan, or delay. They will be waiting for you and will have alerted vendors of your visit
- Pace yourself as house-hunting is an exhausting business. Try and avoid seeing too many properties in one day - it will cause confusion and is inevitably counter-productive.
- Talk to your estate agent. A half hour chat in the office can save hours on the road. Discuss the house you wish to view with your agent as they will personally know the property - they may know of some pitfalls or suggest alternatives.
- Don’t take friends and/or extended family with you unless they are directly involved in the purchase. Other people’s opinions and needs can lead to confusion and distraction.
- Know what you are looking for. What is great for one person is not ideal for another. Make sure that you all "sing from the same hymn sheet".
- Take notes. A camera plus a note pad to record as much as you can about each house. A good agent will provide printed details for each property visited, with room to add your own comments.
- Be comfortable. Wear sensible clothing and suitable footwear for trampling around outside, and take drinks and snacks in the car in case you can’t find anywhere to eat at the appropriate time.
- Be honest with your agent about what you like and dislike and your budget. The more they understand, the more help they can be.