Buying a property in France After Brexit

Written by on July 8, 2016 in Buying a Home, Property for sale


Post Brexit, we ask the property experts at Leggett Immobilier how Brexit could affect your French property purchase.

What does Brexit mean for Brits with holiday homes or who live or want to live in France

Though, at this stage (summer 2016) nobody really knows how exactly Brexit will impact property purchases in France for British buyers, the experts answer some of the most commonly asked questions and the nitty gritty is, don’t panic, we’re fairly certain that the French won’t wish to scare away British property buyers:

Q. When will any changes come into place?

A. The Government has said there will be a new prime minister by September 2nd. He/She then has the choice of whether or not to instigate “article 50” and trigger the leaving process. Negotiations will take up to two years to complete. We believe the earliest any changes will come into effect is Autumn 2018.

Q. What is the most likely outcome?

It’s likely that there would be one of four outcomes. (i) Britain becomes a member of the European Economic Area – the Norway model, (ii) Britain becomes a member of the European Free Trade Association – the Swiss model, (iii) There is a bilateral treaty – the Turkish model, (iv) The world trade organisation model.

We believe that the first of these (joining the EEA) is the most likely given the statements made by leaders of the “leave” campaign but, of course, nobody knows for sure.

The government has said:

“EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU. British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down.”

Q. I’m buying a holiday home, how will things change?

A. We see little or no change whatever the outcome. The cost of purchase is the same regardless of nationality and remains amongst the lowest in Europe (Notaires fees are around 7%). There would be no difference to Capital Gains Tax which currently has a basic rate of 34.5% (19% + 15.5% social charges) regardless of nationality.

The annual taxe fonciere (paying towards local services) and taxe d’habitation (paying for residency, including TV licence) will not be affected – these are usually well below the cost of council taxes in the UK.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would also give you state healthcare at a reduced rate and sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions.

If Britain remains outside the Schenghen group then border controls will remain. Technically the French Government could impose some kind of time limit spent in the country but with 400,000 French citizens in the UK this is beyond improbable.

Q. I’m moving permanently, how will things change?

A. The cost of property purchase and taxes payable will not change (see above).

If you are retired and Britain becomes a member of the EEA your pension & health entitlements would be protected.  However, it’s possible (we think unlikely) that Britain could negotiate a deal whereby you would have to prove you have enough retirement income to live on and that you have your own, private health insurance.  As an example, US citizens can take their US pensions to France – they inform the US tax authorities that they pay French tax on it.

In essence, it’s possible that a permanent move would involve additional red tape and the potential extra expense of private health insurance.

Q. Will there be any changes to the property taxes I pay?

A. No

Q. Will I still be able to work in France?

A. Almost certainly yes. With 400,000 French citizens in London alone we can’t see any barriers being put up in this area.

Q. Will I need to get French nationality?

A. No, although many current expats are now applying for dual nationality. This usually takes around 18 months and does involve a language and “cultural knowledge” test. (For more information on options for Brits in France such as Carte de Sejour, subscribe for free to The Good Life France Magazine which has a section for expats with useful advice and guidance).

Q. Will I still be able to get a French mortgage?

A. Yes. Brexit will not affect you getting a French mortgage in any way.

Q. What’s going to happen to the exchange rate?

A. Nobody knows for sure and it’s likely to be volatile. The pound has fluctuated against the Euro and it remains to be seen what the long term effect of Brexit is. (Ed’s note: we advise you to speak to a currency expert – they offer free advice, are best placed to give expert advice and aim to make your pound go further).

Q. How will property prices in France react?

A. The Brexit will have no effect on the bulk of the French market which is driven by domestic demand. There are around 800,000 sales each year with only around 5,000 of these to British buyers. Prices in most areas have been stagnant for some time but the Notaires de France have reported slight rises in each of the past three quarters. We think prices will remain stable for the foreseeable future.

Q. How have the French reacted to the Brexit news?

A. We are one of their closest neighbours and allies. They are surprised and disappointed by the news and there has been widespread coverage of the expat reaction to the news.  They will continue to welcome British buyers, particularly in rural areas where expats contribute to the economy and schooling.

Thanks to Trevor Leggett, Leggett Immobilier

Related Articles

How to live the good life in France | Choosing where to live

If you dream of living the good life in France – you’re certainly not alone, it’s a popular dream! Expats in France are numerous and from all around the world. Drawn by the diversity of the landscapes, the food, sunshine, wine – there’s lots to tempt. Those who love snow and mountains head to the […]

Continue Reading

What you need to know about buying a Monument Historique in France

France is renowned the world over for its outstanding collection of historic buildings. Châteaux in particular are strategically scattered the length and breadth of the country. And, many are for sale as private homes and hotels. What does Monument Historique mean? Simple barns, Cistercian abbeys, ancient fortresses and fairy tale châteaux all have one thing […]

Continue Reading

Key to buying property in France | Home Hunts free market insights report

Inside France is Home Hunts’ annual, full-colour report, providing analysis, insights and recommendations on how to find the best real estate investment opportunities in France. Free to download, it is packed with useful information and advice to help you secure your dream home in France – stress free and at the right price. How much […]

Continue Reading

Cheap properties for sale in Charente, Poitou Charentes

The department of Charente in southwest France, is in Nouvelle Aquitaine, previously known as Poitou-Charentes. It’s one of the sunniest corners of France with roughly 25% more sunshine hours than the UK. Served by excellent motorways, airports close by, plus fast trains to Paris from the departmental capital Angouleme. There are plenty of opportunities for […]

Continue Reading

Top tips to help you with your move to France

Dick and Angel Strawbridge of Escape to the Chateau fame share their top tips for those dreaming of buying a chateau and moving to France. But these do’s and don’t’s are good for anyone making the move to the good life in France… Key things to consider when you move to France Location is key: […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.