When you are looking to purchase a property in France there are various options open to you.
We have many French properties for sale on French Classified and Property, some are from private sellers others are on the books of French Estate Agents.
NATIONWIDE ESTATE AGENTS
Firstly, there are Anglo/French estate agents who are well suited to first time buyers, as they are used to dealing with foreign clients. Some have just a few central offices and employ independent agents, who are basically self-employed agents across the whole of France and their role is to find properties in their designated area and to handle the enquiries that are mainly generated by their head office, from their websites, magazine and newspaper advertising and attending overseas and French property shows.
The benefit of dealing with these independent agents is that they are fluent in English and many Anglo-French agencies have people that speak other languages, such as German or Dutch. Many of them have also lived in France for quite a number of years, so are also able to give advice on other matters, such as local schooling, insurance, finance, etc.
They will also attend the local notaries’ office with you to complete the sale, and some will help with the transferring of utility suppliers. Their role usually involves a lot more paper work than UK estate agents.
They are also very useful if you have a property to market in France as they not only deal with thousands of enquires from non-French clients, but also local French clients as well. All charges are paid by the buyer when purchasing a property in France, so it will cost you nothing to market your property with them. You will only have the cost of having the diagnostic tests done, when you have a buyer for your property.
LOCAL FRENCH ESTATE AGENTS
Secondly, there are thousands of small French estate agent offices in most small towns and cities; these tend to deal with local properties, although some are part of a large group with several offices scattered across the regions. Most of them will have a good English speaker in the office to handle your enquiry if your French is not sufficient.
There are also local notaries, about 5,000 offices, 7,500 notaries and 40,000 assistants in France. The notaire is the public official responsible for receiving all the “actes” and contracts to which the parties wish to confer the seal of authenticity, to assure their date, to hold them in trust and to deliver authentic copies of them. The notaire is under the authority of the Minister of Justice (Ministère de la Justice) and is appointed by decree. The Notarie’s office depends geographically on the area in which he lives.
Some notaires do also act as estate agents and the benefit is that their fees are usually slightly lower than estate agents; especially in more rural areas, but some do not speak English so you are required to hire a translator.
Find a list of notaires in France, plus a link to a handy instant calculator to find out the legal costs of buying a property in France
The biggest gain in dealing with a Private Sale is of course no commission charges on the property sale, you might also agree a faster deal with no middle men involved and you might even gain a little time to finalise the deal. However, as it still has to go through the notaire they will still need the same amount of time to do all the paperwork, so the vendors should make sure they have all the relevant documents from the notaire who completed the sale for them. The should also make sure that have guarantees for any work carried out by tradesmen on the property as the notaire will require these. All diagnostic tests will have to be completed prior to contracts being fully signed by both parties. Utility suppliers will also have to be contacted and most of them will expect any correspondence in French, which why some vendors do go with an estate agent as French paperwork can be a bit of a nightmare at times.
FINANCE – FOREIGN CURRENCY EXCHANGE
Large savings can be made when transferring your funds to France and it is no great secret that currency exchange companies could save you thousands of a high street bank. Shopping around for the best deal is the best option but exchange rates will vary hour to hour with all the top companies and even more so when the deal goes through. Most large exchange rate companies will no vary greatly, so you are best to choose the one that you feel is the best to deal with and do a deal at the right time. You can even set in advance an exchange rate that you would like to deal at, just do not try to be too greedy and suddenly find that the rate is not achieved by the sale date, or you would have to accept that days rate, which could be lower than you were first offered.
EXCHANGING SMALL AMOUNTS OF MONEY
Most of the best well know and reputable exchange rate companies do advertise in our Foreign Exchange section, so you do have plenty of choice. However as I have personally experienced exchanging small amounts of currency can be quite costly. The simplest way was though a bank and just live the charges and poor exchange rate. Some of the larger currency exchange companies which you have to deal with by email or on the phone, do not always eventually come up with a brilliant deal, but there is another company which I am now using every month for small transfers, which offer great deals on small amounts. I will shop around when it comes to a larger amount of courses, but TransferWise offered exactly what I needed. I can see the instant quote on-line, I can pay by debit card at the same time so saves the hassle of on-line bank transfers. I get updates by email of when the deal goes through, which is usually slightly quicker than banks and some other major currency exchanges companies.