House prices throughout France have risen 15.5% since 2003 and much of
this growth has been attributed to English, Dutch and German purchasing
holiday, second or retirement homes. Even with the growth in buyer numbers
obstacles remain in the French real estate buying process: Foreignproperty's
guide to buying in France aims to make potential purchasers aware of the
Research all aspects of the property purchase
Have clear goals of purpose for the property
Obtain as much advice as possible
Be cautious in all of your actions
Ask yourself searching questions
Five things never to forget:
- Is this the ‘one’?
- Am I happy with the price?
- Would I buy this property in a different location?
- Will this property fulfil the purpose I have in mind for it?
How to buy, tips, rules and advice:
Please note that the description below is not guaranteed and
Foreignproperty Limited recommends seeking professional advice.
The French estate agents only earn commission on the sale;
they don't always have your interests in mind.
The French property lawyer "Notaire" represents both parties
in the sale; they do not always act in your interests as a
solicitor in the UK would.
The French estate agent has to have a mandate or written
authority from the seller to be able to negotiate the transaction.
A "Bon de Visite" is the only document the agents should
ask you to sign it allows them to show you the properties
on their books.
Any income generated by letting the property in France
is taxable in France.
Before arranging finances for the property purchase
in France consult with UK banking and mortgage companies
who may be able to help in the financing or the purchase.
NEGOTIATE THE PRICE with the seller, just as in the UK
this is a crucial step.
Once the price is agreed a preliminary purchase contact
will need to be signed be sure what you are signing
as these are not standardised contracts. If necessary
obtain an English Translation of the contract. Ensure
you understand the exact nature of this contract, clauses
and protections left out of this contract can cause
problems in the latter stages of the purchase.
As a general rule do NOT sign the following named
contracts: "promesse de vente" or "promesse d’achet"
They allow for only one party to commit to the sale
or purchase of the property.
As a general rule the "compromise de vente" commits
both parties to the sale to purchase of the property.
A contract should contain special terms and conditions
the "conditions suspensives". These will be included
to ensure that if they are not met then the contract
will be void and entitle withdrawal by the purchaser
or seller. Check for restrictions of ownership,
planning and claims on the property. State within
the "conditions suspensives" the financing
arrangements to purchase the property.
Contracts for new and as yet incomplete ‘development’
properties often differ in the contracts that are
offered to the consumer. Ensure you protect yourself
in this case by seeking advice and understanding the
contract you will be expected to sign.
Only sign the contract when you are happy,
the "conditions suspensives" is the only protection
you will have. Don't forget time scale inclusions, the
last thing you want is the French property lawyer
holding your deposit for a year before doing any work!!
Unlike in the UK, planning, local authority and boundary
searches and enquires are conducted after the contract is
signed and deposit paid. At this point in the sale process
only the "condition suspensives" provides you with any
Don't pay money direct to the seller, always go through
the French Property Lawyer ‘Notaire’ who should hold a
license for their position as a ‘Notaire’.
As in the UK obtain a survey from an
"expert immobilier en batiment" as well as advice from
local builders, architects or UK based Chartered Surveyor
to ensure you know what you are buying.
Who should purchase the property, don't forget UK
inheritance tax issues and the tax issues arising
Obtain boundary plans "plan cadastral" of the property,
the seller should provide these, they can be checked
with the French local authorities. Any planning permission
"permis de construire" should be noted and considered. Check
the local town hall’s zoning and locations of proposed
developments. Once the contract is signed the "Notaire"
will obtain a certificate d’urbanisme from the local
authority indicating any possible developments or planning
If in any doubt obtain legal advice from an independent
advisor, a number of UK based French property solicitors
exist who can help you with this. Please contact
for further information.
Since June 2001 a seven day cooling off period has
been enforced from the point the contract is received
for the purchaser to decide if they wish to proceed.
A Land registry "the Bureau de Conservaton des Hypotheques"
search will be completed by the "Notaire" once the contract
has been signed.
The "acte de vente" is the completion document. Always
request this document from the "Notaire" well in advance
of the date of completion as you need to ensure you
understand its contents.
The completion date will be arranged by the "Notiare" at
his office in France where the parties will meet and sign
the "acte de vente". It is at this point where the balance
of the price and legal fees are paid and the funds cleared
before completion has been finalised.
The title of the property will be registered in your name
by the "Notiare" at the "Bureau de Conservation Des Hypotheques"
once the "acte de vente" is executed.