Buying Property in France
Have you fallen in love with France and would now like to buy property there? Before you make the big decision to buy property abroad, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into to avoid making a very expensive mistake.
If you’ve only ever been to France on vacation, you should consider renting for a bit before you buy. Get to know what the everyday life of an expat in France really feels like. You may be surprised to discover how much it differs from even an extended vacation. Be sure to experience all the seasons, too. An area that may have seemed charming in summer may be cold and dreary in winter.
There are many factors to consider when choosing what area of France to settle in, depending on if you prefer the hustle and bustle of city life or the bucolic peacefulness of rural living. Your family situation will also help decide if you buy an apartment in the city center or a house in the suburbs, a small town or village.
Once you have decided where you would like to live, consider renting a house or apartment for up to a year before you buy. This will give you a chance to make an educated decision about whether you really want to buy property there. You will also be able to leisurely look around at different properties in the area.
Once you feel that the time has come to purchase a property, you can start your search. In France, you have the option of working with a realtor (agent immobilier) or buying a property directly from the seller. Another advantage of living in an area for some time before you buy is that it gives you the chance to build up a network of expats and locals. You can consult your contacts to get recommendations for a trustworthy estate agent .
Once you have found a property you would like to buy, you should make an offer. If the seller accepts, then you will both sign a sales contract (compromis de vente). Depending on your French skills, you should have the contract professionally translated before you sign. Make sure you understand exactly what you are buying (boundaries of the property, etc.). You should ask to see the results of all legally required health and safety checks for the house and property. It is up to you if you decide to have an independent property valuation performed as well.
After the sales contract is registered with the authorities, the local notary (notaire) will investigate if any claims on the property exist, legal or otherwise. This usually takes about three months, after which the deed of sale can be signed at the notary’s office. It is advisable to bring along an interpreter, as the deed will be read aloud before you sign it. Then the various taxes and fees are due and the property will be registered with the land registry.
Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a property in France!