Guide to buying French Property

Written by on February 26, 2018 in Buying a Home, Property in France

Holiday makers in France often love what they find – the relaxing lifestyle, sunshine and food. Before long, thoughts can turn to creating a long-term relationship with this beautiful country.

Finding your home

Begin by drawing up the list of things you need to factor into your buying decision. Basic points, such as the number of bedrooms, are obvious. But have you thought about accessibility? If you make frequent trips back to your old country or expect family visits, it makes sense to be within 90 minutes of an airport. Budget airlines cover much of the country. There is also the TGV (high speed train), which makes travel to Paris and the Eurostar links easy. If you plan to drive back and forth to the UK, consider the distance to the Channel ports.

Where to buy

My advice is to thoroughly investigate the area you have chosen. How are you going to spend your time here? Will your hobbies be feasible in your new French home? If you’re an ardent skier, don’t buy that beautiful house you fell in love with far from the ski slopes. It may seem obvious, but it’s a mistake others have made.

Property Condition

Are you willing to renovate or do you prefer a house where the hard work has already been done? Chances are you’ll want to do some work to match the house to your taste, so factor that into your decision to buy, and your budget.

Value for money

France provides an array of opportunities. This is of key importance in any buying decision. To international eyes, and in real terms, French housing stock is good value at the present time.

Advice you can trust

Get professional assistance. An agent will be familiar with the details of French real estate law, keep you informed about the process of your purchase and help you avoid any potential pitfalls. Leggett is the only real estate company in France with their own in-house legal team and notaire. If you don’t speak French and your agents don’t provide documentation in English (we do), get it translated so that there are no nasty surprises.

It’s important to establish the legal status of exactly who is buying the property before you sign. If you’re an unmarried couple, you might consider buying on a joint basis. If you’re married and wish your surviving spouse to inherit all your estate, you will probably need to adopt a French marriage contract or buy ‘en tontine.’ Unrelated groups of people should consider establishing a property company.

Making an offer

When you’ve found your dream house, it’s time to make an offer. Once the purchase price has been agreed, a ‘compromis de vente’ is drawn up. You then have a seven-day cooling-off period. The sale proceeds through a notaire. You can share the notaire with the vendor or appoint your own – in either case the notary costs will be the same.

Mortgages may be cheaper and may offer some tax advantages if you are perman-ently relocating. If you require a mortgage, this will be inserted as a conditional clause in the contract. You will need to pay a deposit, usually 10 percent of the purchase price. The buying process normally takes 3-4 months.


When the day of completion arrives, make sure your monies are deposited with the notaire several days beforehand to ensure the sale goes through smoothly. Should you have overpaid, the balance will be refunded. Visit the property to ensure all is as it should be – particularly the fixtures and fittings – and the sale can proceed.

A final word

If you do your research and take professional advice, the purchase of your dream home should be a simple process!

Karine Chariaud, contracts expert at Leggett Immobilier shares her advice to help you prepare thoroughly before you begin the search for your dream home. For more information on buying see: A step by step guide to buying property

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