Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about living abroad in a far-off Mediterranean location? Or owning a pied-a-terre in a buzzing foreign city centre? Many people do and some work to make that dream become a reality. But many people don’t realise that buying property abroad, particularly in France, isn’t as hard as you think.
However, there are some definite differences between buying a house in France versus buying one in the UK, or the U.S. Understanding the distinctions of purchasing a home in France will mean the process will go as smoothly as possible – and before long, you’ll soon find yourself sipping a glass of wine on your waterfront (or mountaintop, or countryside) new home.
Let’s get into seven must-know tips for buying a house in France.
Don’t Be Won Over by Enormous Homes
If you truly want a large home with tons of surrounding property to call your own, then by all means, go for it. However, if you only think that a bigger home is a better home, you may want to reconsider. One to two acres may feel like more than enough once you consider that you have to take care of all that land. Having a pool in a small yard can make home feel more luxurious than extra green space can. Also, an extra-large house that’s difficult to manage and clean can be more of a burden than a smaller, cozier home that has all the amenities and space you need without extras you don’t.
Find Out the Total Price – Not Just the Quoted Price
When you’re deciding on which property to buy, ask what’s included in the quoted price. Sometimes, the quoted price will include all fees – but sometimes it won’t and tacking on those fees later can mean a home that you may not be able to afford any longer. Make sure you check with the agent or owner to be sure of the total price!
Exchange Your Money the Smart Way
If you work with a currency specialist instead of a bank, you’ll be subject to different margins. Overall, you should be able to get a much more competitive rate this way. Since you’re going to be transferring large amounts of money when buying property in France, any amount you can save will help. Also, try to find a currency provider that won’t charge transfer fees (most banks do) to move your money from your home country to France. Again, with how many services you’re going to have to pay for, saving on transfer fees will really add up.
Consider Hiring a Surveyor
In France, it’s not standard to have a survey done on a home you plan on buying – however, you can still have one done if it makes you feel more confident in the purchase. There are a lot of surveyors in France who speak English who can take an in-depth look at your potential home. It’s a good idea to have this done if something concerns you about the condition of the home or if you know you’re going to have a lot of renovations done.
If you don’t want to find a surveyor, an alternative option is to have a local builder come to the property to assess it. They can give you an idea of the renovations you need and how much they’ll cost.
Ideally, you’ll have your property surveyed or assessed before you sign anything, but if you don’t have time to fit it in before the contract is due, you still have an option. You can have a clause suspensive included in the contract that says the purchase will only move forward if the survey is satisfactory.
Ensure Diagnostic Surveys Have Been Performed
What you don’t need to hire a surveyor to handle are the diagnostic surveys that are required by law. French properties have to have surveys for asbestos, energy, lead and termites, and the seller has to pay for these. If the property has a swimming pool, there has to be an additional report on the pool’s safety features. You’ll find them in the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique report, which is part of the Compromis de Vente.
Plan to Have Legal Documents Translated
Even if you have a notaire who speaks English, the legal documents you need to read, understand and sign will be in French. And even if you speak French well enough, you probably won’t understand the legal terms that are included. It’s always a good idea to get professional translations of legal documents, either in your home country or by a registered translator in France.
Get Ready for a Fast Closing Process
In France, sales are binding and finish up a lot faster than in the UK and the U.S. That means that once you find a home you love, you should start preparing to move sooner than you expect. While the fast pace can be intimidating, it has a plus side: If you fall for a property during a viewing trip, you could have most of the paperwork squared away before you head back home. It also means that you need to act fast so that you can figure out exactly what you’re signing and agreeing to before you put your signature down.
Final Thoughts on Buying a House in France
Buying a home overseas means considering all sorts of details, like how you’ll learn the language, where you’ll work and what it’ll be like getting used to a completely new area and way of life. Luckily, the property buying process in France isn’t overly complicated or difficult to understand.
HOMEHUNTS property agents are able to select beautiful, luxury homes in France based on your specific search criteria. Browse our selection of luxury homes or speak directly to one of our property consultants by calling +33 (0)970 44 66 43.