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Housing in France

Updated: Sep 19, 2022


Do you need a French apartment or home? Find out all you have to know, from the basics of the market to the ins and outs of creating your ideal house, in one convenient location.


Your housing options in France will include renting, purchasing, and constructing a new house. While French real estate is among Europe's priciest, mortgage rates will be at an all-time low in 2022. You may want to explore renting a property in France if you are unsure of how long you will be staying there. Fortunately, your rights as a tenant will be protected by the country's stringent legal framework.


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Perspectives on French Housing


About 64% of French people own their homes in 2020, according to Eurostat data, which is lower than the 69.7% European average. About 5.8% of French real estate sales are made to foreign purchasers. These buyers are largely from the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Germany. Residents and visitors alike are counted in this proportion.



The study also shows that although 27% of people in suburban and smaller towns call apartments home, that number rises to 66% in major cities. 95% of people who live in rural areas, on the other hand, do so in private homes. The typical French home has 1.8 rooms, making it somewhat larger than the average European home. Furthermore, 42% of French dwellings are unoccupied, resulting in lower overcrowding rates.


The housing market in France


Despite the high cost of purchasing real estate in France, the number of homes bought in 2021 was up 14.5% from the previous year. It is interesting to see that people started looking for houses with gardens rather than flats in the city. In response, the price of houses jumped by 9% while the cost of apartments grew by just 5.2%.


However, the cost per square foot varies widely from one arrondissement (district) and city to another, as well as from rural regions. Real estate prices, rents, and inflation all rose more slowly in France than in the rest of Europe between 2010 and 2020. Housing prices rose by 26% in the EU as a whole, but by just 17% in France. Similarly, rents throughout the EU rose by an amount double that seen in France. Also, the inflation rate in France was lower (11% vs 17%) than it was throughout the rest of the European Union.


In addition, there was no noticeable rise in the price of utilities like water, electricity, or gas throughout this time. The demand for utilities rose during the COVID-19 lockdowns, leading to scarcity and price increases. Therefore, to aid suffering families, the French government has put a temporary freeze on gas prices beginning in October 2021. In June of 2022, they plan to take another look at it.


Housing laws and regulations in France


While foreigners can rent or purchase homes in France, getting a loan from a French bank may be challenging, depending on the borrower's nationality and length of time in France.


Low-income families get the highest priority when the government decides who gets to live in social housing. A citizen may submit a housing assistance application via a central government website. Applicants, however, have little say in either the property's location or kind because of the lengthy waiting lists.


Rental laws in France


Landlords in France have limited legal grounds for evicting tenants due to the country's tenant protection regulations. Some of them are:


● To use the property as a primary residence

● This house must be sold.

● For extensive refurbishment

● When the tenant defaults on the rent repeatedly

● Disruptive Conduct (e.g., intentional damage to property, excessive noise, or criminal activities)

● Landlords are also required to provide three months' notice (furnished properties) or six months' notice (unfurnished properties) to renters.


Any tenant may ask for a lease extension, and if the landlord denies the request, the tenant can take the matter to court. If the landlord sells the property, the new owner is obligated to honour all of the leases already in place. Associations representing both landlords and tenants may be a great resource for information and conflict resolution. Legal authorities, however, will settle any disagreements that go beyond this.


A signed lease and inventory (état des lieux) are required before you may move in. This report examines the premises during the time of occupancy. While the landlord will cover the cost of any necessary repairs, the renter is still responsible for routine upkeep. Also, the landlord will schedule a new état des lieux inspection when the tenant vacates. They will return the security deposit if there is no visible damage.


Property purchase and building laws in France


Building permits (permis de construire) are required in France for any construction, whether it be a new house or an addition to an existing one. The exception to this is the addition of a small patio or garden basin, both of which would be considered inside modifications and would not need permission.


Though, if you are not sure whether you need a permit or only a declaration (déclaration préalable en mairie), it is best to talk to an architect before starting any major improvements. The final construction permit might take up to three months to get, so please plan accordingly.


Buying or renting in France?


It might be a good idea to rent a place in the region you are interested in purchasing in France first, to get a feel for the neighbourhood and the local real estate market. While home hunting, you may want to think about signing a short-term, flexible lease. Homelike, for instance, provides a selection of fully furnished apartments in the City of Light.


In most cases, tenants sign leases for at least a year, which is long enough to provide stability without the need for a long-term financial commitment like a mortgage. Tenants are responsible for general upkeep, although landlords will shoulder the expense of any necessary repairs unless the damage was caused on purpose. As a renter, you will often have a lot of leeway in terms of how you furnish and accent your apartment.


Buying a property in France is only a good financial decision if you plan on living there for an extended time. After all, the already high cost of French real estate is compounded by the additional 8% that must be added to cover transaction costs (frais de notaire). However, with mortgage rates expected to hover around 1.1% in 2022, purchasing a home is a wise financial move. This frees up cash that may be used toward improvements to the home rather than the mortgage payments of the landlord.


Renting in France


Rentals in France may range widely depending on the city and the area. It is no secret that living costs are higher in major metropolitan areas like Paris. For example, in the city, the rent for a tiny two-bedroom apartment might cost anywhere from €420 to €1,500 per month. It is possible that September through June would see a rise in the demand for rental apartments in university cities like Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, and Lyon.


Property options tend to be more varied and prices tend to be lower in rural and suburban locations. These phrases may appear:


● Bastide – isolated, square, stone structure with a low roof, characteristic of rural areas.

● Domaine – estate property that includes extra acreage (e.g., vineyards)

● Ferme/Fermette – a rural homestead that comes with its plot of land

● Pavillion – an authentic French villa

● Longere – a square or rectangular building with just one level, such as a farmhouse or a barn that was renovated.

● Mas - home typical of the Provençal area of southern France and the Midi


Search engines like SeLoger, PAP, and LeBonCoin may be used to locate available rental properties. Landlords may pick and choose who they want as tenants, therefore it is important to come to a showing with documentation of your work and income.


Social housing in France


Habitations a loyer modere, the French government's social housing programme, is only home to 16% of the country's families (HLM). In 2000, the government introduced the SRU legislation (solidarité et au renouvellement urbain) to address the lack of public-sector housing. By 2025, this mandates a quota of HLMs for a subset of municipalities (between 20% and 25%).


In most cases, HLMs may be rented at between 50% and 66% of the going market rate via public and private housing associations. Individuals with disabilities, those who are jobless, those with low incomes, and the homeless are given preference when determining who will reside in a specific property.


The French government's website is where you may apply for social housing or get further information.


Renting out your property in France


Even if you are neither a citizen nor a permanent resident, you may still rent out your French home. However, the property location and whether it is a permanent home or investment property affect the restrictions and taxes that must be paid.


The best course of action is to get in touch with a real estate agent in your area who can assist you with the process, which may include:


● Preparing marketing materials, including taking photos, for a real estate sale

● Drawing up rental agreements

● Choosing a tenant

● Dealing with the état des lieux

● Responding to tenant queries and fixing any property issues


If you use an agency, expect to pay them a charge equal to around 10% of the monthly rent. However, this is often up for discussion. Of course, you may sell your home without using an agent if you use a site like Particulier à Particulier (PAP). If you decide to take charge of the rental on your own, please bear the following in mind:


● Use this tool to see whether the rent control (encadrement des loyers) imposed by your municipality will have a significant impact on your property's income.

● The property's status (principal residence, second home, or investment property) and whether or not it is furnished determine the tax and regulatory obligations that apply.

● The bail classique, bail mobiltié (for stays of up to ten months), and bail étudiant are the three main types of leases in France (nine-month set contract)

● To effectively interact with renters and finish the état des lieux, you will need a solid grasp of the French language.


Buying a home in France


If you are looking to buy a home in France, you may either peruse real estate periodicals or contact agents immobilier. The majority of real estate agents now use property and sales websites like SeLoger, ParuVendu, and LeBonCoin to advertise available homes online. Instead, you may avoid middlemen and negotiate with sellers directly via the PAP website.


In this post, we cover the process of purchasing a house in France from beginning to end, including making an offer, being pre-approved for a mortgage, signing the contract, and moving in.


Affordable housing in France


The government of France has instituted many programmes to broaden the availability of decent dwellings. Some of them are:


● Le Logement D’abord – social housing infrastructure investment plan for low-income and homeless families and individuals

● Tax cuts – homestead exemptions for the bottom 80% of taxpayers

● Zero-interest loans – Up to 40% of the purchase or building expenses of a property may be financed using a prêt à taux zéro (PTZ).

● Pinel Law – tax breaks for purchasing a new rental property and holding onto it for at least six years

● ELAN Law – housing development (accessibility included) and city planning legislation

● Prime Accession – first-time private-sector purchasers are eligible for a €10,000 buying incentive.

● Revival Plan for the Construction Sector – constructing low-cost housing for individuals and families who do not get government subsidies but who are unable to purchase market-rate housing

● Eco-innovation – using cutting-edge tools to build low-cost public housing, like the first 3D-printed home in Nantes.

● Capping rents – cities like Paris, Lille, and Lyon are experiencing a housing shortage since they are located in "zones tendues."


France's sustainable housing


The state government has instituted new policies and regulations to increase the number of eco-friendly and energy-efficient structures in use throughout the state.



Here are some of the steps taken:


● Tax incentives for making buildings more energy efficient are available via a programme called MaPrimeRénov.

● PREH - Plan de rénovation énergétique de l'habitat (Housing Energy Efficiency Renovation Plan) is a strategy for renovating and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

● Eco-PLS (Éco-prêt logement social) – landlords who increase the energy efficiency of their properties, a social housing eco-loan for rehabilitation work that includes a lower VAT rate.

● ANAH - a government programme that helps low-income families pay for home improvements that increase their safety, mobility, and comfort

● Habiter Mieux – Funding for home improvements, ranging from 35% to 50% of total expenses based on household income.

● Éco-prêt à taux zéro (éco-PTZ) – a 0% interest loan (between €7,000 and €50,000) to make energy efficiency upgrades to your home.

● New rental laws – When the year 2023 rolls around, any home with an annual energy bill of more than 450-kilowatt hours per square metre will no longer be lawful to rent out (i.e., low energy efficiency)


Mortgages in France


Mortgage applications from non-French citizens are accepted in France. However, several variables must be considered.


Country of origin – For instance, Americans may have trouble obtaining mortgage loans due to the stringent fiscal agreements between France and the United States (US).


Earnings – A 10% down payment is required, and your mortgage payment should not be more than 35% of your monthly gross income.


Residence status – Those who are not permanent French residents will need to show that they want to make France their permanent home throughout the period they are paying back their loan.


Financial records – Do not apply if you have ever had an overdraft or been late on a payment.


Fixed mortgage rates in France were around 1.1% in 2022, however, you would want to check with a specific bank to get a precise figure. Mortgages with a variable interest rate are also accessible. The bank's loan amount is based on its evaluation of your current and future financial stability. You should shop around for the best mortgage rate by comparing offers from several financial institutions and even using the services of a broker (courtier).


Selling a home in France


There are a few things to keep in mind when selling your French home. You have the option of selling the property on your own or working with a real estate firm. You may either have them give you an honest appraisal or look up real estate values online. Realtors will take care of all the paperwork and provide extras like professional photography, but these services come at a price.


Potential purchasers have a right to know about the property's energy efficiency, pollution hazards, and surface measures (diagnostic de surface loi Carrez), therefore you will also need to schedule a technical survey (diagnostic immobilier) and reveal any relevant information.


If there is interest from a potential buyer, you may discuss a price. After signing a promise of sale (also known as a compromis de vente or promesse de vente), you cannot sell the property to anybody else for more money.


The buyer is responsible for paying the expenses associated with hiring a notary (notaire) to create documents and oversee the transaction. On the purchase of land or newly constructed structures (less than five years old), the buyer is additionally responsible for paying VAT at the rate of 20%. But historic homes are excluded from this rule.


Building a home in France


The French government's National Housing Agency, or ANIL (Agence Nationale pour l'information sur le Logement), is a wealth of knowledge if you are considering constructing a house rather than purchasing one.


The following are the standard procedures involved in constructing a house:


● Get in touch with a bank or financial adviser to discuss your project's financial needs and viability.

● Look for available land using a website like SeLoger Construire or get in touch with real estate agents in your area.

● To find out whether the property is suitable for construction and if it can be linked to local services, you need to commission a mission de conseil from an architect.

● Be sure to double-check all municipal construction codes (mairie)

● There will be a delay of many months while you wait for a building permit (permis de construire) after purchasing the property on which to build.

● Plan sizes beyond 150 square metres need an architect's services.

● Construction firms might be contracted for smaller-scale projects (constructeur de maison individuelle)


You may acquire insurance, get legal advice, and mediate disputes with contractors with the assistance of housing organisations like ANIL (Agence Nationale pour l'information sur le Logement), CLCV (Consommation, Logement, Cadre de Vie), and AAMOI (Association d'Aide aux Maîtres d'Ouvrage Individuels).


Useful resources


● Service-Public – France's official housing information hub

● Demarches Interieur – The site established by the Interior Ministry details several processes, including those involved in acquiring real estate.

● Ministry of the Environmental Transition – Discussions about Sustainable Development Projects

● Calculateur de crédit immobilier – tool for estimating one's ability to borrow money from the government

● Ministry of the Economy – web-based database with useful financial data for homes

● Particulier à Particulier (PAP) – intended for private party property transactions (no agencies)

● "SeLoger" - search for available real estate

● SeLoger Construire – DIY house-building instructions

● Etalab – a searchable database of all recently transacted French real estate

● Notaires.fr – website that represents the French notary community officially; has a directory

● ANIL (Agence Nationale pour l’information sur le Logement) – Housing and Urban Development Information Exchange

● CLCV (Consommation, Logement, Cadre de Vie) – a nonprofit organisation fighting for consumer rights on a nationwide scale

● AAMOI (Association d’Aide aux Maîtres d’Ouvrage Individuels) – a group that helps independent house builders

● ADIM (Associaiton de défense d’investisseurs victimes de la défiscalisation) – one that may help you out if you are in the market for a brand new home


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