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Expat Exchange - How to Buy a Home in France
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Montmarte in Paris


How to Buy a Home in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
French Riviera House Hunting - FRH

Summary: Seasoned expatriates recommend a cautious approach to newcomers eager to settle down—avoid the rush to purchase property upon arrival. Instead, consider the benefits of renting in France during your initial months. This strategy allows you the flexibility to explore various neighborhoods and truly decide if the local lifestyle aligns with your long-term expectations. Once you've acclimated and are certain that France is your future home, here are tips on how to buy a home in France.

France, with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and world-renowned cuisine, is a popular destination for expats. Whether you're looking to settle in the bustling city of Paris, the tranquil countryside of Provence, or the sunny beaches of the French Riviera, buying a home in France can be a rewarding investment. However, the process can be complex, especially for foreigners. This guide aims to provide you with key information and tips to navigate the French real estate market and successfully purchase your dream home.

How Do I Find Houses for Sale in France?

There are several ways to find houses for sale in France. Online property portals such as Seloger, Green-Acres, and French-Property are popular platforms that list properties across the country. Local newspapers and real estate agencies also advertise properties for sale. Additionally, you can hire a property finder or a 'chasseur immobilier' who will search for properties based on your specifications and negotiate the price on your behalf.

Are There Restrictions on Foreigners Owning Property in France?

France is generally open to foreign property ownership. There are no specific restrictions on foreigners buying property, regardless of their nationality or residency status. However, there may be additional legal and financial considerations for non-residents, such as higher deposit requirements or additional taxes. It's advisable to consult with a local real estate attorney or financial advisor to understand the implications.

Does France Have an MLS Type System?

France does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system like in the United States. Instead, each real estate agency maintains its own listings. This means you may need to check with multiple agencies to get a comprehensive view of available properties. Some online portals aggregate listings from various agencies, making the search easier.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They Are Licensed?

Yes, real estate brokers in France must be licensed. They are required to hold a 'carte professionnelle' issued by the local Chamber of Commerce. This license should be displayed in their office. You can also verify their registration number ('numéro de carte') online on the French government's official website.

What Documents Are Required When Buying a Home?

When buying a home in France, you will need to provide several documents. These include your passport, proof of income (such as pay slips or tax returns), and proof of address. If you're applying for a mortgage, the bank may also require additional financial documents. The seller must provide a 'dossier de diagnostic technique' (DDT), which includes various technical inspections of the property.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Buying a Home in France?

While it's not mandatory to have a lawyer when buying a home in France, it's highly recommended, especially for foreigners. A lawyer can help you understand the legal process, review contracts, and ensure that your interests are protected. Legal fees can vary, but you should expect to pay around 1-3% of the property price.

Do People Typically Buy a Property with All Cash or Take Out a Mortgage?

Both options are common in France. Some buyers prefer to pay in cash, especially for lower-priced properties. However, many people, including foreigners, take out a mortgage. French banks are generally willing to lend to foreigners, although they may require a larger deposit. Interest rates in France are relatively low compared to other countries.

Are There Inspections That Take Place, and If So What Is That Process Like?

Yes, property inspections are a standard part of the buying process in France. The seller is required to provide a DDT, which includes inspections for asbestos, lead, termites, natural and technological risks, and energy performance. These inspections are carried out by certified professionals and the costs are usually borne by the seller.

What Are Some of the Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Property in France?

One common pitfall is not fully understanding the buying process and legal requirements, which can lead to costly mistakes. It's important to do thorough research and seek professional advice. Be wary of properties that seem too cheap - they may have hidden issues. Also, don't forget to factor in additional costs such as notary fees, taxes, and maintenance costs. Finally, ensure that you have a clear understanding of the contract before signing, and don't rush the process. Take your time to find the right property for you.

Expats Talk about Real Estate in France

"So many beautiful areas in France - so many people spend months finding a house - stick to one area and search," said one expat living in Eymet.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
French Riviera House Hunting - FRH

French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
French Riviera House Hunting - FRH

Montmarte in Paris

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French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
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