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Buying a House In France

Buying a House in France

Between its high quality of life and rich culture, there are endless reasons to buy a home in France as a foreigner. Explore everything the country has to offer — from the French Alps and the great cities like Paris to its rural areas pulsing with rustic charm. Most importantly, the stable, sunny weather of France makes for an ideal climate year-round if you are looking for a suitable European holiday home.

As a foreigner, you will want to know the various regions of France before buying a home. The cultural hub of each province has its own qualities, each with a unique ambiance to offer. From the traditional customs and traditions of Celtic Brittany to the hilly towns and lavender fields by the sea near Province, there is certainly something for everyone. The Dordogne offers food enthusiasts culinary delights and delicacies, and shoppers will find their paradise in the numerous markets that the country has to offer.

If you are ready to make a new home abroad, read on to discover how to find and buy a house in France as a foreigner.

What Should Foreigners Consider When Buying a House in France?

Foreigners and expats can purchase property in France. However, there are considerations to take into account, such as restrictions and possible difficulties. There are also legal requirements and French property laws that you should know about.

Before packing any bags, you will need to figure out some logistics. To start with, you need to determine the best time to buy. Do your research to understand how the housing market in France is currently fairing so you know when it is the right time for buying property. This is particularly important for international investors looking to invest in commercial or residential properties. Also, stay current on the exchange rate as this will cause house prices to fluctuate. In particular, if the Euro exchange rate is weaker at the time of your purchase, you will be able to buy your home for less.

The French Home Buying Process for Foreigners

To get started, familiarize yourself with the housing market in France with a quick online property search. The following sections will outline the home buying process in France for a foreigner. Look for French properties for sale, check digital newspapers and local property magazines, and check public auctions in case you want to buy directly from owners.

There are a few nuances to the French housing market to keep in mind throughout the process. One of them is the fact that homes in France are always passed down to any living dependents according to French inheritance laws, which is officiated with an Acte de Vente. Another important thing to know is that the French government sets pricing ceilings for costs within the housing market, where the total sum of fees incurred may not go past 10% of the property value. These are just a few of the many French laws you will want to know throughout the home buying process.

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Start by finding a real estate agent or agent immobilier. Hiring a real estate agent who knows the area you want to move to can make a big difference in easing the home buying process. Undoubtedly, the real estate agent will be familiar with the French property market and average property prices.

If French is not your first language, the real estate agent can help you communicate with the sellers throughout the house hunting and buying process. Best of all, they will have the expertise to help you negotiate the purchase for a lower price. After your real estate agent shows you various properties, you will be asked to sign a bon de visite, which officiates that you were shown particular properties.

To find a good agent immobilier, keep an eye out for acronyms like FNAIM, SNPI, UNIS, or CNAB. These acronyms indicate that a real estate firm is affiliated with a legally registered organization in France. This will ensure the real estate agent you choose has a financial guarantee, liability insurance, and that at least one team member has a carte professionnelle, i.e., a professional license issued by the prefecture de police. Also, refer to Le Conseil National de la Transaction et de la Gestion Immobilières for more information about regulations and policies for ethical real estate agent fees and property activities.

Other Important Considerations for Buying a House in France

There are no shortages of gems that you may come across on the French real-estate market. From picturesque properties along the Southern coast to rugged luxury in the North, you may feel inspired to move tomorrow. That said, while France is culturally diverse, for anyone who has ever been to France they will know how important it is to speak French. If not fluently, at least enough to earn your respect amongst the French. When it comes to buying property, having proper bilingual representation and support is equally as important to making an attempt to speak the language.

Using a French Real Estate Lawyer

Having a real estate lawyer when buying a home in France is advisable. In addition, you will need a notaire or “notary official” who handles the legal side of purchasing property in France. Both you and the seller will most likely have your own notaire, but you can opt to use your own.

A notary official will help you finalize the contract with the seller and conduct investigations of the property throughout the process. They can also assist with understanding French taxes imposed on property, which include a local tax and a land tax. Your notaire will also oversee planning permissions and the final signage of the deed of sale for the home.

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Making an Offer on a French Home

The process of making an offer on a home in France is relatively straightforward. After conducting a thorough inspection of the property and ensuring the home checks off all your requirements, you can move forward with your offer.

Ask your real estate agent to prepare a sales contract, also known as a compromis de vente or a promesse unilatérale de vente, for the owner of the home. A compromis de vente is more traditionally used for residential sales, wherein the owner agrees to sell the property to the buyer at an agreed-on price point. There will usually be a designated time frame for how long this offer will remain active until it is accepted or rejected with a counter offer.

When you are ready to sign, look over the contract to check if the information is accurate. The contract should be detailed with descriptions of the property boundaries and other information about the home, such as reports, safety certifications, condition clauses, hidden defects, asbestos reports, and more. If you are taking out a mortgage, the contract should reflect this information, as well.

Once contracts are officially signed, you will visit the notaire’s office to officiate the property purchase. First, the notaire will investigate claims on the home, which can take anywhere from a few days to several months. Then, a completion date is set when you will sign the deed of sale. Afterward, you will be expected to put down your deposit and pay any additional taxes and fees. Expect the deposit to be somewhere around 10%.

Also, make sure to have the contract registered with authorities to officiate it. This process entails a fee, but it gives you peace of mind that your offer is secure with the seller. If you withdraw, you risk losing your deposit, so you’d better be certain in your purchase decision before submitting the deposit.

Moving Into Your New Home in France

So, the property deed is officially in your name under the land registry of France, and you own your French dream — congratulations! Now, it is time to start planning your move to France. Just because you own a home in France does not mean you automatically have the right to live here indefinitely as a foreigner.

From essential requirements like obtaining your immigration status to preparing the home for your move-in, here is a brief checklist of what you should do to plan for your move:

  1. Apply for and obtain your resident visa a few months in advance to allow for processing time.
  2. Check your main domestic electricity supplier for your home and schedule to establish a new account with the provider at least two weeks in advance. (If your new home runs on domestic gas, contact the provider directly to establish your own account.)
  3. Terminate the existing contract with the property’s water supplier a week before moving in and start your own.
  4. Schedule your telephone and/or internet service a few weeks in advance.
  5. Notify the local post office of your move a couple of days before moving.
  6. Remember to update your identity documents, license, car registration, insurance, bank, and Social Security information.
  7. If you have any pets, update the animal registry, as well.

Relocate Is Here to Make Your Move to France Easier

To learn more about relocating to France and how to buy a home in France, consider working with an Advisor at Relocate. Dig-deeper into relevant details about immigration to France, browse qualified, bilingual Advisors, and submit specific questions to get answers to your questions.

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