Why Buy in France?
Did you know that France is the second most popular destination with Britons buying property abroad? And according to a recent report by "Patrimoine" (a French heritage site) 6 out of 10 foreigners who buy French property are British. The most common reasons for Brits to buy a property in France are as follows:
- Slower pace of life.
- Value for money on property purchases.
- Wonderful climate and food.
- Proximity to the UK.
- Diversity of countryside.
- Nostalgia for how the UK used to be.
- Space - and lots of it.
It would seem that France has it all: rolling hills, rivers galore, stunning ancient villages, cities of culture, wonderful coastlines, and let´s face it, a whole lot more space. On average there are 395 people per square kilometre in the UK compared to just 111 in France. Generally speaking too, most properties in France are vastly cheaper than the UK. This means that you can sell your property in the UK, upgrade to a warm, romantic destination and still have money to live on...well... at least that's the theory! There is something for everybody on offer, from medieval castles to village cottages, from a pad on a sandy beach to lock-up-and-go apartments in walled communities.
Getting Started - is it possible for you to buy a property in France?
Buying a property and living in France is straightforward. There are no restrictions on Brits buying property. Thousands of Britons move to France every year, and thousands more dream of joining them; attracted by the warmer climate, rich culture, hugely varied landscape and space. If you are planning to spend more than 183 days a year in France you will need to consider where you choose to be domiciled and will be wise to consult a legal advisor on how to go about this. Aside from this however, you are free to purchase a home anywhere in France and the question of domiciliation (permanent residency) is something that can be addressed at a later stage.
To find out more on how to get started on your France property buying journey, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company´s France Property Buying Guide.
Finance - how much does it cost to buy a property in France?
On average you should expect to pay between 7-8% of your property's value in fees and taxes (normally referred to as the Notary Fees). These fees are fixed and set by the French Government and are worked out on a sliding scale, depending on the price of the property.
Breakdown of the Notary Fees
- Property Transfer tax similar to Stamp Duty ranges from 4% to 5%.
- Notaire (Solicitor) fees can range from 1% to 3% of the property's value.
- Cost for certificates is about 0.5%.
VAT is payable on the price of a newly built property, usually at 19.6%. On the other hand, the property transfer tax is lower (frais réduits).
- Purchase of an existing property, older than 5 years, is not subject to VAT.
Finding a property France - where should you start?
Search for property in France with Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk - the best place to search for French property and part of Rightmove.co.uk, the UK´s number one property website. The world´s favourite tourist destination and a country rich in culture, landscape and history, France is a superb choice for overseas property buying. With everything from cottages in the countryside to stylish apartments in city centres and stunning coastal villas; there is a vast range of property in France to suit every taste. Rightmove.co.uk is the best place to find the latest property in France. To find out more on how to finance and find a property in France, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company´s France Property Buying Guide.
Legalities - should you use a lawyer in France?
You do hear horror stories about overseas property buyers in some countries having their property demolished, or having issues such as finding out that they don't actually own the land and cannot get a title deed. This is unlikely to happen in France as the French buying process is straightforward and safe; however it is wise to employ the services of a bilingual solicitor at the outset. The "Compromis de Vente" - equivalent to the British "exchange of contracts", is binding on the buyer after the 7 day cooling off period and the payment of 10% deposit and it is therefore vital to include in this document all conditions on which the sale may depend, such as obtaining a mortgage or loan or the sale possibly being dependent on obtaining planning permission for alterations to the exterior.
I suggest that you contact a solicitor before setting off to view properties in France. In the UK there are many legal firms that specialise in France and can act as an intermediary between you, the notary and the estate agent. Yes, it will cost you more upfront, but in the long run you will have peace of mind that your property purchase goes through safely.
In any property transaction in France a notary is appointed who acts impartially and whose job it is to make sure the sale goes through according to law. You are entitled to appoint your own notary and the seller his own but quite separately from this, having your own bilingual solicitor to represent you will safeguard your wishes and make sure that both the "Compromis de Vente" and the "Acte de Vente" (like our completion) are correctly worded without any omissions.
Settling into France - how can you make friends?
So let us imagine you have bought your house, paid your taxes and moved happily in - how very, very exciting! Now where do you begin to start integrating yourself into your new community? Rural France is full of associations and a good place to start looking for these is at your local Town Hall. They should be able to provide you with a list of associations in your area. Further, look out for an "Associations Fair". These happen in many areas of France around September time. The local paper or local "tabac" (newsagent's) will give details of times and dates. For French people the "Foire des Associations" is an important event also: a little like joining an evening class as one can do in September in Britain, you can even take up a new hobby. French people will be curious about meeting you: it is important to make an effort to join in. Say hello, even if your "conversation" at first consists largely of gestures! You might offer to do some voluntary work too. Don't forget that France has a large number of people over retirement age: the life is good here and people live to a ripe old age! Therefore you should be able to find voluntary work in a local hospital, retirement home or such like and this is an excellent way to meet new people as well as giving you a sense of self-worth. To find out more on legalities, moving and settling into your new home in France, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's France Property Buying Guide.