France, famed for its boulevards, fashion and food, is one of the most popular areas of Europe in which to buy a second home, and offers a great range of typically French property for sale such as pleasant townhouses, rustic farmhouses and magnificent French chateaux. Its location between the temperate climes of Britain and sun-drenched Spain ensure a variety of climates to match your lifestyle. You are bound to find the ideal French property for sale, whether you long for balmy days on a Cote d'Azur terrace, the sparkling clean air of the mountains or the seasonal ebb and flow of Normandy life played out amongst bustling markets and sleepy country lanes.
France is still a largely agricultural country and, away from the towns, the population density is still one of the lowest in Europe. With a long history of countryfolk leaving for a more cosmopolitan urban life, the potential of much French property lies unexploited and waiting for a new owner with ideas and enthusiasm. With prices rising steadily for both non-renovated and renovated properties, now is the time to look for that hidden gem that is both affordable and a great investment for the future.
Buying French Property
A notaire (public notary) is an integral part of buying a property in France. They represent neither buyer nor seller, but the French Government - and their impartiality is an obligation taken seriously. The notaire oversees many legal aspects of the sale, such as whether the seller is legally entitled to sell what he is offering, whether any future nuisance is likely to impinge on the use and enjoyment of the property and the drawing up of contracts. However, as many notaires speak little English, it may be worthwhile engaging the services of an English-speaking legal consultant who is qualified in French law and who has experience in the area of French property sales.
The notaire can also offer advice on how to buy your French property to reduce the tax implication when you sell or will your property.
You will be expected to organise connection to utilities - gas, electricity, water - and to provide a translator (if required) to help you to understand the documentation. A good French-qualified legal consultant may be able to help with these tasks.
Where to buy property in France
We market over 1500 examples of French property situated in most of the departments, from plots of land to the most exclusive chateaux and villas. We work closely with a number of professional local agents, carefully chosen for their service and after-sales support.
Like many countries, France has some distinctive regional building styles that reflect the materials available, the history and wealth of the population and the age of the local settlement. Many older French properties are built from local stone, quarried and brought the few miles to the site. Other more prominent buildings may be built from more durable or more beautiful stone, quarried many miles away, such as the famous, golden Caen stone from the Normandy region.
Whether your dream French property is a little riverside cottage or a farmhouse surrounded by acres of land, our large database of French property will undoubtedly provide a number of options to consider.
The Poitou Charentes region, incorporating the Charente, Charente-Maritime and Vienne, is an enormously popular location to buy a second home benefitting from one of the highest sunshine indexes in France, a beautiful coastline, forests, lakes and gorgeous villages just waiting to be explored. The rural way of life stills grips the Poitou Charentes, with weekly petanque in the village square, fresh produce at the local market and friendly bistros from which to watch the world go by.
Provence and Cote d'Azur is well known as the capital of sunshine and sunflowers, lavender and luxurious villas and includes the departments of Alpes Maritimes, Var and Bouches du Rhone. The region includes glamorous hotspots such as Nice, Cannes, Monaco and St Tropez where beautiful residences cling to the hillsides amid shimmering azure seascapes.
The Loire and its famous valley, full of stunning manors and chateau estates, offers some of the biggest bang per buck of any area of France as well as a down-to-earth but modern French lifestyle.
The Languedoc Roussillon is an area in the south of France, between Provence and the Spanish border, with a coastal plain that is mainly flat and greatly influenced by the Rhone delta. It includes such famous towns as Montpellier and Carcassonne, stunning gorges, lovely nature parks and many beautiful sandy beaches. The departments of Herault, Gard, Pyrenees Orientales, Aude and Lozere are included in the Languedoc.
Income from your French property
While the gite market has slowed as demand begins to be sated by supply, potential for generating income from French properties is still good. As the world's top destination with an average of over 60 million visitors per year, France's position and variety of coastal, rural and city backdrops gives it an enviable holiday and cultural fascination amongst the tourists of the world, particularly in the UK, Germany, Netherlands and the US. Many buyers are now looking for French properties suited to providing activity breaks to generate a summer income, rather than just basic accommodation. We have many such properties in France, from country cottages to a fully-functioning Parisian hotel.
French property with gites are still strong favourites among our clients, who look to casual renting as a means to help pay off the mortgage rather than as a main source of income. Of course, demand has not dropped for gite accommodation among tourists. One cautionary note, however, is that some mortgage lenders are now refusing to offer quotes for gite and leaseback properties due to their perceived risk if this income is relied upon to cover repayment.
Guide to the French Buying Process
1. Signing the Agreement (Compris)
On finding a property you wish to purchase you will need to negotiate the terms, price and conditions of the sale with the owner. The next step, once you are in agreement, is to sign the preliminary contract (Compromis de Vente). This is a legal document and after ten days will be binding on both parties. Rules change frequently in France and it is best to consult with your notary about when this period starts. Generally the compris will be signed in France with the Agent. Variants can be included in the compris, for example an Acte (clause) can be added if the name or names to go on the title deed have not been finalised. If a mortgage will be required to purchase the property, the details for this, including the name of the mortgage company, must be on the compris.
2. Paying the Deposit
Generally the deposit will be 10% of the agreed purchase price. This will normally be paid to the notaire. There are exceptions to this, if the agent holds a carte professionelle, is bonded and fully registered then you may pay them, but do not hand over the deposit to anyone else. If for some reason the purchase does not go through, for example, if you write to the notaire and the agent that you do not wish to go continue with the purchase before the contract is binding (within seven days of signing the compris), then your deposit would be repaid. This would also apply if a condition had not been met, or the mayor or S.A.F.E.R. (a government agency that has the right of first purchase on most rural property that comes onto the market in France) could oblige the purchaser to give way. If you decide after the seven days 'cooling off' period that you do not wish to complete the purchase and pull out of the sale you would lose your deposit. If however the vendor pulls out of the sale then you will receive your deposit back plus the same amount from the vendor.
3. On Completion
Generally it will take around two or three months to complete the purchase. During this time the balance of the purchase money must be paid into the account of the notaire, this must be done well ahead of the completion date. The notaire will prepare the documents, check that the deed of sale (Acte de Vente) is in order and have the legal title ready to be signed over. It is possible to have someone sign on your behalf if you give them power of attorney. An interpreter may be of use at this point if your French is not very good and many Notaires will suggest (or insist) that an interpreter is with you.
IMPORTANT - Disclaimer :
All information provided is believed to be current and provided free of charge. No liability can be accepted for the reliability of the information and statements made as this is obtained from 3rd parties. We always recommend you take legal advice from a fully qualified Lawyer or Notary before buying a property overseas.
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