It’s fairly common to use a real estate agent to find property in France, especially in more remote regions or if you don’t know the language well. While the cost can feel prohibitive, in provinces where homes are more spread out and difficult to find, working with agent is the only real way to ensure you’re seeing all of the properties available. More importantly, some French homeowners inflate prices for expats, and working with an agent can help you ensure you’re getting the best deal.
That being said, it’s not uncommon for French agencies to take up to 8% of the total cost in fees, so if you’re on a budget trying to house hunt, doing it on your own may be the best course of action.
If you do decide to work with an agent, some of the most well-reputed in France include:
Property websites in France
If you’re planning to find your home without an agent, your first stop will probably be web-based real estate sites. Going this route can make a lot of financial sense, though the multitude of listings can make your head spin. If you do decide to search online, these sites can be a good place to start:
How do I choose the right property?
Realistically, the types of properties you’ll find across France vary significantly by location. While in Paris you may struggle to find any housing situation outside of an apartment, in the countryside you’ll be welcomed with plots of land, sprawling estates, villas, homes and townhouses. What type of property you invest in will depend on where you want to invest, and what makes the most sense for your family.
Condition of the property
In France, it’s the seller’s legal responsibility to provide you with an up to date diagnostic report. This should cover everything from the presence of lead, asbestos and parasites to the condition of the septic system, the Performance Energy Report and the natural disaster risk.
Before you agree to buy any property, make sure you’ve received this report and have gone over it thoroughly with your agent.
What are the steps to buying a property as a foreigner?
If you’re ready to jump into the property market, the following steps can help give you a rough idea of where to get started:
Decide which region you’d like to live in.
Set a budget based on similar properties in the region.
Engage a real estate agent to help in your search.
Select a property.
Carefully review the diagnostic report.
Make a verbal offer or let us make it on your behalf.
Sign a Compromis de vente, a preliminary agreement which locks both parties into the sale.
Engage a Notaire (lawyer) to perform the property searches, including the land registry, ownership rights, boundaries, and rights of way.
Sign an Acte de vente, a sale contract.
Enjoy your new property!
How do I get a bank loan/mortgage? Can I make a deposit from a foreign account?
The good news is there really aren’t any restrictions for expats hoping to buy property in France, and that includes getting a mortgage. While the exact rules and taxes around getting a mortgage may vary slightly for foreigners, all in all the process is the same.
In fact, because foreigners buying French property are so common, most national and international banks cater to the service. The only real restriction on getting a mortgage is your income: Your total debt may not exceed ⅓ of what you make. So, while banks are willing to cover 70-80% of the cost of your new home, your salary may prove to be a restriction.
Most banks will have English-speaking representatives to help you or let us deal on your behalf as getting a mortgage isn’t a process you should not lost in translation.