Buying A Property In France – What Do You Need To Know?

Buying a property in France has become a very popular alternative investment for many, whether for a permanent move, a second home or as property to let out to holiday makers. What do you need to know though when buying a French property?

For many, it’s not just about buying a property in France because it’s cheaper than in the UK but it’s also about investing in the French way of life – a relaxed lifestyle with good food and in many places the prospect of good weather to make you smile too.

Where to Buy a Property in France

There are many different types of property to consider, anything from character houses, farm houses with land, villas, chateaux, gites to ski chalets.

What is your taste, budget and which region are you looking to buy in?

There over 20 very different geographical regions in France, each with their own distinctive character – from Brittany, to the Loire Valley, to Burgundy and down to Provence.

Some Key Points to Consider

1. Consider your French language ability

Are you competent to undertake the transaction in French or do you need to deal with companies offering bilingual support for your transaction?

A limited knowledge of French may be worse than none at all as it may give you a false sense of security.

2. Be aware that the French conveyancing process will no doubt be different from what you are used to

Understand legal documents

It involves various legal documents, including

  • the legal document called the Compromis de Vente, a notaire who ensures the transaction is carried out legally and accurately
  • the acte de vente, the legal document signed at the notaire’s office and which effects the passing of the property to the buyer.

3. Ensure you understand the legal, tax and inheritance implications as you start the process

Under French law a surviving spouse does not automatically inherit the whole of the estate of their deceased.

The amount of the estate inherited depends whether there are children involved and if so how many children.

There are ways of mitigating these laws though which you may well need advice on.

Potential routes you can take for example include adopting a French marriage contract, a régime de communauté universelle with the clause d’attribution intégrale or enter into a family inheritance pact, a pacte de famille.

4. Consider the costs of buying the property as these can be surprisingly high

The property buyer pays the legal fees and registration taxes.

The stamp duty land registration taxes are determined by the type of property you are buying – older property, off-plan property, new property or building land.

5. Make sure you have property insurance in place before completion

Fire and third party liability cover is a minimum legal requirement in France.

Currency Exchange

Get the best currency exchange deal

Whether you are buying a property, or transferring funds overseas for other reasons, fluctuating exchange rates can make a significant difference to the price you pay.

For example, if you are looking to buy your French property with a mortgage you may have to do this via a French bank.

As such the repayments will be made in Euros, the cost in Sterling to you on this can differ in accordance with the exchange rate.

There are ways of making regular payments abroad, whether it be for a mortgage or such as maintenance fees, whereby you can get a highly competitive rate onyour transfers with 0% commision.

If need be you can fix the exchange rate for a period to ensure you make the exact payment required each month.

This article is an introduction into what you need to know when buying a property in France – make sure you supplement this with further research and professional advice to ensure your purchase goes smoothly and you do end up with your dream property.

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