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Buying property in France

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Learn all you need to know about purchasing real estate in France, whether you are interested in a one-bedroom in Paris or a four-bedroom in Bordeaux.

You may be considering purchasing a property in France if you are relocating there or if you are already a renter there. It is important to familiarise oneself with French mortgages, house insurance, and home improvements before making any real estate purchases. Read on if, on the other hand, you are interested in learning more about the French housing market and the steps you need to take to purchase a property there as an expat.


Homeownership in France

The number of French citizens who own their own house has increased significantly in recent years and now stands at 64%. This is lower than the European Union average of 69.7%.

Until they have paid off their mortgage in full, first-time buyers in France are referred to as accédants. Approximately 80% of homebuyers in the country use some kind of mortgage financing.

Houses in rural locations and small towns are often more affordable for low-income families. Additionally, they often rely on government assistance to purchase property. The typical first-time homebuyer is well into their 30s or later. Last but not least, immigrants in France are statistically less likely to own their own homes. However, there are notable variations among nationalities. The proportion of immigrants who become homeowners is much higher among those from the European Union and Southern Asia compared to those from Africa.


Should you rent or buy a property in France?

If you are not yet comfortable with your new community, it is often best to rent before you purchase. You will have plenty of spare time to check out the local shops and restaurants. It is also a good idea to explore many places and consult with locals before committing to any kind of substantial investment.

Once you have located the perfect house, though, you can expect to wait around three months before you can move in. Furthermore, there may be finishing touches like painting or rearranging furniture to take care of before you can move in.


Can expats buy property in France?

Foreigners, most of whom now live in France, hold around 5.8% of the country's total real estate. About 45.5% of buyers are from the United Kingdom, with the Belgians making up the other 20%.

So, to answer your question, yes, you may buy property in France as an expat. However, numerous factors will determine whether you are approved for a loan, including where you are from, how much money you make, whether or not you are married, and where you live.


EU and Schengen Area

Residents of the European Union and the Schengen Area are not subject to any restrictions. Living in France should not make things more difficult than they are for a French citizen. One possible exception is legal paperwork, which may need a translation. But if you do not live in France, borrowing requirements will be higher from banks.


Outside the EU

If you are moving to France from a different country, you will have to prove that you plan to stay put for the life of your mortgage. Proof of intent to remain in France may be shown by acquiring a talent stamp in your passport, marrying a French person, or obtaining a titre de séjour (long-term residency visa). There is a good probability a bank may consider funding your loan if you have had a valid residency permit for at least four years.

You may find it more or less difficult to get a loan from a financial institution depending on your place of birth. The United States, for instance, has a hard time obtaining loans because of the stringent budgetary commitments France and the United States have signed.


Paying property taxes

The amount of yearly property tax you must pay also relies on other variables. Some of them are:

● Do you now live in France or have done so in the past

● Whether or whether You File French Taxes on Your Income

● how much money you will need to pay for the home

● how long you have been the proud owner

● whether or whether this is your permanent abode

● It does not matter whether it is equipped or unfurnished when you rent it out.

Get in touch with a local notary if you want to know the exact tax rates that will apply to your circumstance. They are well versed in fiscal legislation and accompany prospective homebuyers.


The French property market and property prices

During the Covid lockdowns of 2020, many French families raised their savings, leading to a spike in real estate purchases the following year. Year-over-year sales growth was 14.5%. There has been a shift in recent years toward home ownership rather than apartment living. Especially in less densely populated regions outside of large cities, this has caused home values to skyrocket. Over the last several months, the cost of an apartment has risen by 5.2% while the cost of a home has risen by 9%.

In the following year, the Association of French Notaries anticipates a rise of around 5% for flats and 10% for homes. Property values in France are comparable to those in the United Kingdom, Monaco, and Austria. It is important to remember, too, that costs per square metre vary greatly from metropolis to metropolis and from city to rural location.

Demande de Valeur Foncière is an engaging resource for up-to-date information on property values in locations of interest to you.


A Paris Real Estate Purchase

Naturally, Paris has the highest living costs of any French city. However, the cost of a home in the City of Lights varies greatly from arrondissement to arrondissement. The citywide average price per square metre is €11,075. However, the price varies widely from €9,475 per m2 in the less desirable 19th arrondissement to €15,367 per m2 in the more desirable 6th arrondissement. In addition to the centre of Paris, you may look at more reasonably priced areas.

Apartments make up the vast majority of Paris's housing stock. Homes make up just 17% of the housing stock. As a result of the city's high housing costs, just 33% of Parisians are homeowners. Conversely, around 9% of Parisian flats are used exclusively as vacation homes.


Buying property in Nice

If you are looking for a place to live on the Côte d'Azur, go no further than Nice, where the average apartment costs over €4,200 per square metre. In Nice, apartments make up 91% of the housing stock (with almost 14% being brand new construction) and homes make up the remaining 9%. Finally, compared to other cities in France, 47% of residents are homeowners.


Buying property in Marseille

A one-bedroom apartment in Marseille, France's second-most populous city, would set you back an average of €2,810 per square metre. As a result, it is one of the more reasonably priced possibilities along the French Riviera. Since 2020, home prices in the Marseille/Aix-en-Provence region have increased by 12.5%, reaching an average of €379,000. In Marseille, just 13% of dwellings are single-family homes, while the remaining 87% are flats.


Buying property in Bordeaux

The completion of a high-speed rail connection between Paris and Bordeaux has led to a huge increase in real estate values in the region. Apartments in Bordeaux cost an average of €5,446 per square metre, while houses cost an average of €4,304 per square metre right now. Since rising costs have made house ownership more expensive, just 32% of Bordeaux's population now lives in their dwelling, lower than that of even Paris.

Bordeaux is unique among major French cities in that a significant number of new homes are being constructed (3%). Apart from them, the remaining housing stock consists mostly of flats, both new and old (62% and 18% respectively).


Buying property in Lyon

Property in Lyon is among the most costly in all of France. Prices average over €5,090 per square metre, yet, like in Paris, they vary widely across neighbourhoods. On average, a house costs €426,000. The city's homeownership rate is almost half the national average (34%), making it comparable to that of Paris. Only 11% of Lyon's total buildings are housed; the remaining 61% and 28% are ancient and modern flats, respectively.


Costs of buying a property in France

Fiscal/admin fees – There is normally a one-time cost (droits d'enregistrement) of roughly €125 associated with signing a promesse de vente contract.

Notary fee – The notary fee (frais de notaire) is the sum of several municipal and regional levies on real estate transactions. In the case of a brand-new construction, this figure is 2–3% at most. Only a little percentage of this, often less than 1%, goes to the notary. You should include these costs when estimating your loan since they might quickly mount up.

Insurance – 90% of French homes have multi-risk insurance policies. Location, property type and value, and individual circumstances all play a role in determining the final price. Costs typically begin at €120/month, but consumers may shop around using sites like LeLynx and Luko to get the best deal.

Estate agent fees – These fees are negotiated and paid for by the seller and included in the selling price of the property.


Financing a property purchase in France

Mortgages

French fixed mortgage rates are now at historic lows, at roughly 1.1%. Considering this now is an excellent time to purchase a home, however, a variable-rate mortgage is not recommended.

Standard requirements for a mortgage in France are:

● That 35% or less of your gross revenue goes toward your monthly payments (once fixed expenditure is deducted, such as alimony or child support)

● That the duration of your repayment plan is less than 25 years

● That you can demonstrate that, if you are not already a permanent resident of France, you intend to dwell there for the period of the loan's repayment.

● This is why you must get a policy of life insurance.

● That the amount you are putting down is at least 10% of the home's total cost

● That your financial situation is steady, with no recent instances of overdraft or late payments

There is a mortgage calculator available online on the French Service Public site. You may use it to calculate what you could owe, how much you might borrow, and what your interest rate might be.

Private sector workers who are purchasing their first property are eligible for a €10,000 buying incentive (Prime Accession). Both your overall family income and the location you want to purchase will determine whether you qualify for this programme. To find out whether you qualify and submit an application, visit the ActionLogement website.

In France, home loans are available from several different sources, not only banks. ActionLogement, your local town or department administration, and even insurance companies may be able to provide you with access to additional low-interest loans.

In addition to conventional mortgages, low-income families may apply for the Prêt d'accession sociale (PAS), a special kind of housing credit designed for first-time homebuyers and renovation projects.

You may buy or build your new house with money from a zero-interest loan (Prêt à taux zéro, or PTZ). You cannot use this loan as your primary source of funding, but you may apply for it in conjunction with your mortgage or other housing loans. Your eligibility for this programme is also determined by your anticipated purchase location and your annual family income. To determine your eligibility, try out a virtual version of it online.

An Éco-prêt à taux zéro (éco-PTZ) is a zero-interest loan that may be used to pay for the cost of making necessary energy-saving upgrades to your brand-new home. Another form of an interest-free loan, this one may be anywhere from €7,000 to €50,000.


Finding a property in France

You may obtain listings for available homes by picking up a local real estate magazine or contacting an agent immobilizer (real estate agent). However, if you are interested in renting or selling a home without going via an agency (known as particulier à particulier in France), you may see listings for such transactions on the pap.fr website.

It is important to note that almost all real estate agencies now advertise homes for sale on broad, internet-based services. The most popular ones are SeLoger, which focuses only on real estate, ParuVendu, which specialises in electronics, and LeBonCoin, which has everything from homes to used bicycles and toys. In addition, feel free to go through our compilation of useful housing websites. Some of the specialised services and products it provides include luxury real estate, international clientele, and eco-friendly residences.


Property agents

The local real estate market is available for perusal, and interested parties may sign up to be notified when suitable properties become available. It is not unlike signing up for automatic updates on sites like SeLoger, except that they may not provide you with this information before putting it publicly.

The seller chooses whether or not to work with a realtor, and if so, which one(s) to choose. To a lesser extent, this matters to you as a buyer. When representing a client, a realtor's primary responsibility is to achieve a swift sale at the highest possible price (who pays their fees). As a result, it is up to you to seek out other viewpoints, consult with real estate experts, and retain the services of a private notary to investigate the property's history.


Viewing a property

Get in touch with the listing agent or owner of a desirable property as soon as possible to schedule a viewing. Even if a property has a video or 3D view available online, nothing beats seeing it. Keep in mind that real estate in popular places, such as big cities, sells quickly.

The present market favours sellers, therefore many individuals are signing sales contracts (compromis de vente) before ever seeing the house. Although some real estate companies are okay with this, others require all prospective purchasers to see the property first. You may visit at your convenience and withdraw your offer at no cost within ten days after the signing of the sales agreement, during which time you will be effectively blocked from making any more visits.

The property should be seen numerous times. For a second opinion, consult an expert in the field of construction or someone you know and trust. As a buyer's agent, your goals during a home viewing should be:

● Prove the quality of the construction by touching and opening anything you can.

● Check for signs of water and humidity in hard-to-reach areas, such as ceilings and walls.

● Windows are a major investment and should be inspected for quality.

● Inquire about the property's curb appeal, common areas, garage, and any extra storage space that comes with the sale.

● Talk with residents or neighbours if you can to learn more about the region or the house.



Additional points to consider


Some essential factors to think about whether a house seems appealing are:


Where it is located, what type of neighbourhood it is in, whether or not there will be construction nearby, and how accessible it is by public transportation (both now and in the future) are all important considerations. To ensure that important details like the size of the lot are up for sale and whether or not any additions to the property were done so legally, you can employ your notary to compare the contract to the urban plans.


Local taxes – If you own a house in France and live in it, you must pay two separate taxes each year: the taxe d'habitation and the taxe foncière. Even within the same city, they might vary greatly from one neighbourhood to another, so it is important to do some research before making a purchase.


Condition – Check out how long ago the structure was constructed or last updated. How much do the realtor's remodelling estimates often run? Remember that their prediction is probably too low. Also required is a currently certified diagnostic from the seller covering topics such as energy efficiency and the potential for pollution or floods in the area. Your monthly energy costs may be estimated more accurately.


Co-ownership and planned work – One of the requirements of purchasing an apartment is joining the building's syndicate. Find out what their yearly costs will be. Also, inquire about reviewing the co-ownership agreement (règlement de co-propriété) and the minutes from the most recent several years' worth of meetings (procès-verbal des dernières assemblées générales des copropriétaires). That way, you may learn about any impending construction, any troubles in the past, and any continuing disputes between neighbours. It will also let you know what you may do without the approval of the building's other residents.


The process of buying a property in France


The whole process, from signing the sales contract to receiving the keys, takes around three months. Timeframes as short as two months are possible with a cash purchase and a speedy signing. When additional time is included for things like securing bank loan guarantees and having contracts reviewed by several notaries, this timeline increases to more like four months.


Making an offer


In a seller's market, likely, the homeowners will not budge from their asking price. However, you may exploit the property's shortcomings to negotiate a price reduction of a few per cent if it has been on the market for a long time, needs a lot of work, or has some other drawback.


The typical trend in real estate transactions is for the asking price to decrease rather than increase, so unless they are in a real rush to sell, most property owners will start at the high end of the asking price range. There is no room for negotiation over the first sales agreement price, which is binding regardless of subsequent offers.


Hiring a notary


There is a high likelihood that the vendor will provide a notary to act as a go-between for you and the buyer. However, you should retain the services of your notary to review the details and papers for you. They need to be able to raise red flags if there are problems or disparities.


Consult the official French notaries online directory to find a local property (immobilier) specialist notary. They know the market in your area and can help with research, contract drafting and negotiation, and general advice. They also give the town hall two months to reply (right of preemption) if they want to prevent the sale and buy the property themselves after being notified of the intention to buy.


Signing a purchase agreement


You and the seller will enter into a promesse de vente or compromis de vente depending on the specifics of your offer. If you need help drafting this or negotiating the conditions, consult a real estate professional or a notary public (examples and templates are also available online). There will be a ten-day cooling-off period during which you may rescind your offer without explanation. The notary and you may now review the diagnostic procedure dossier (all the technical files relating to the property). Before the sale, the sellers will arrange for and cover the cost of a recent technical survey.


Paying the deposit


After signing the contract, you will need to submit a deposit to the seller's notary in the amount of 5% to 10% of the property's purchase price. That amount will be applied to the purchase price if it goes through. A deposit is refundable within 21 days if an offer is withdrawn within 10 days or if financing cannot be obtained.


If the buyer backs out of the deal without good reason after the time has passed, they will have to pay damages as specified in the agreement. Conflicts are resolved in a court of law.


The final contract


Your notary reviews and, if required, revises the deed of sale (l'acte de vente, acte authentique, or titre de propriété) drafted by the seller's notary. This may be done after you have shown that you have the funds for the purchase, either in the form of a bank loan or cash on hand. Transferring money from your bank to the notary must occur on or before the day of signing.


You may prove your ownership using the deed of sale, which contains the following information:


● property, along with the contract's two signatories

● the owner(s) of record(s) dating back at least 30 years

● pricing and accepted forms of payment

● If the property is an apartment, the occupants might purchase a share of it.

● including any applicable charges, levies, and surcharges

● land registry abstracts


Completing the sale


The notary public in the seller's jurisdiction is where you, or someone you have authorised to sign on your behalf, will put your signature on the deed of sale. This is also the time when you get the house keys. If you want to participate in the signing of the contract but only have a basic understanding of French, it is strongly recommended that you retain the services of an interpreter.


Keep in mind that nowadays, the document itself is often signed by electronic means. Before it may be published by the service de la publicité foncière, the notary must submit it there. As soon as it is notarized and verified by the current administration, the notary will send it to you. You can expect this to take some time, maybe months. In case you misplace your copy, the notary's office will hold on to it for a century.


Moving into your French property


You have finally purchased your home, and now it is time to get the last few details in order before you can move in.


Insurance


If you purchase a copropriété property, such as an apartment, you are required to get assurance habitation. At the absolute least, you need civil liability coverage (responsabilité civile). Getting additional multirisk insurance to protect against things like floods, burglaries, fires, and so on is a good idea.


Before signing the final deed of sale, you must acquire basic liability insurance. When you take out a loan in France, the bank could also recommend that you get liability or comprehensive homeowners insurance. A multi-peril coverage may be required by your mortgage servicer. It is possible to shop around for the best insurance rates in France by comparing policies from different providers.


Utilities and telecommunications


Soon after receiving the keys to your new home, you will want to begin connecting services such as electricity, water, and cable. The French utility companies EDF and ENGIE are the country's two largest. Other specialised services exist, such as renewable energy solutions.


It is now possible to have all of your telecommunications needs met by a single company. SFR, Bouygues, and Free are just a few of the major providers, but the alternatives in our Directory go well beyond those three.


Renovation work


Some of the financing options available to you for construction projects on your property include:


● by the French National Housing Agency (Anah)

● from Habiter Facile if modifications are needed to make it more handicapped-accessible

● the éco-PTZ is zero-interest financing for greener homes and businesses.

● financial assistance for ageing in place

● insulation help if you live near a major airport

● You may get a rebate (MaPrimeRénov) if you upgrade your home's energy efficiency.


Building a new property in France


There are a few procedures to follow if you want to construct a home in France rather than acquire an existing one. Get in touch with a bank or financial adviser first so they can advise you on costs and viability. The next step is to acquire a plot of land upon which to construct your new house.


Purchasing land


You will need to look for some land and then engage an architect to do a mission de conseil to see whether the site is suitable for construction and can be wired up to the necessary services.


You may utilise websites like SeLoger Construire or get in touch with real estate agents in your area to help you find land.


Whether you want to know, for instance, if you may add more floors to your building, you need to look into the zoning laws in your area. Finding a piece of property in an area you like is the first step in creating a comfortable home.


The next step after purchasing land is to apply a permis de construire to the appropriate municipal building. You may acquire a response in two to three months with the aid of your architect or notary.


Building your house


A licenced architect or designer must oversee any plan for a residence larger than 150 square metres. A builder known as a constructeur de maison individuelle might be contacted for residential projects on a smaller scale. These may include unique layouts or more affordable, modifiable house plans.


The typical cost to construct a new 120-130 square metre house is between €55,000 and €88,000. The cost savings compared to purchasing an existing home might be substantial. However, there may be significant expenditures associated with the land, labour, and transportation of materials.


The National Housing Agency (ANIL) can provide you with a wealth of resources to help you plan the purchase of land and construction of your new house.


Organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Associated General Contractors of the Valley (ACCV), and the American Association of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (AAMOI) can help you navigate the first steps of the building process by helping you find insurance, offering legal counsel, and mediating any


Buying a new-build home in France


You may purchase a new construction via a procedure known as acheter sur plan or VEFA (vente d'un logement en l'état futur d'achèvement) in French. In a VEFA transaction, the buyer takes title to the land and the completed structure at the time of the sale. The seller promises to hand over possession once the building is finished; otherwise, the buyer is entitled to compensation.


The acquisition of a newly constructed property should always be accompanied by a real estate notary. Associations of buyers, such as ADIMASSO, may aid in resolving a variety of issues, such as:


● a misunderstanding of the market worth of completed structures

● ensuring sure the desired deposit does not go over 5% of the property's value and is placed in escrow

● nonpayment or reduced payment for delays

● result not meeting the requirements of the agreement

● materials of low quality leading to breakdown and depreciation.


Relocating to France and buying a house


It is important to keep the following in mind while selling a French property:


If you want to sell your home, you have the option of either selling it yourself or going via an agency. The latter may include extras like professional photography, but their prices might be just as prohibitive. Better terms can be negotiated in certain situations.


A real estate agent may also help determine a fair market value for your home. Before settling on a realtor, it is wise to acquire a few different viewpoints. Online valuation tools, such as PaPs, may also be used to aid with cost estimation.


Only sales of land or new construction (less than five years old) are subject to the 20% VAT. If you own an older home, you may avoid paying VAT by claiming an exemption.


Potential purchasers need you to arrange a technical survey (diagnostic immobilier) and provide them with the most up-to-date information on the property's energy efficiency, environmental dangers, and square footage (diagnostic de surface loi Carrez).


As soon as a potential buyer expresses interest, you may begin price negotiations if their offer is lower than the asking price. Nonetheless, after you have agreed to the terms and signed the compromis de vente or promesse de vente, you cannot sell the property to anybody else at a greater price.


If you require assistance with contract drafting or sales process guidance, you should retain the services of a notary public. The charge is paid by the customer.


Tips on buying a home in France


Do not rush into anything; you want to be sure you choose the best option. Before making a purchase, do extensive research about the neighbourhood. If you are not sure about buying right now, maybe try renting for a year first.


Do your homework so you know what to anticipate in terms of property kinds, costs, renovations, and local construction rules.


If you find a home that you want, you should not wait to sign a compromis de vente to prevent the transaction from going through without you being protected.


Ten days following this first signing, have a notary and/or building consultant review all technical papers and point up any red flags.


Go back to the property with someone who can offer you a second perspective and visit it numerous times at various times of the day and week to get a feel for the area and the property.


You should receive preapproval from a bank for a loan big enough to cover the 8% notary fee/taxes and remodelling charges before you start making bids.


Make sure you talk to many different mortgage or bank lenders. Bring down their prices by openly comparing their offerings.


If you want a professional opinion and a thorough review of your contracts, use a notary. The sales process is one in which they will fight for your rights.


Useful resources


● Service-Public is a French government website dedicated to housing.

● The Interior Ministry's guidelines for various actions, such as buying a home, may be found in a document called "Demarches interior.”

● Mortgage loan calculator (in French) - a government tool for calculating borrowing power

● Website maintained by the Ministry of the Economy, which provides tax and budget details to householders.

● Direct property transactions between individuals (Particulier à Particulier) that sidestep real estate brokers.

● SeLoger is a centre for most agency advertisements and is a very popular website.

● SeLoger Construire is an instructional website for constructing your own house.

● Etalab is a searchable database listing all recent French real estate transactions.

● You may find a directory of French notaries and see the official website for the profession at Notaires.fr.

● Housing information and assistance from a nationwide nonprofit: that is what ANIL does.

● An organization that fights for consumer rights on a nationwide scale: CLCV

● Association for the Advancement of Modular Occupancy Improvements

● ADIM is a group that helps people who are interested in purchasing new construction projects.

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