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10 step guide to buying property in France
At TotallyRiviera our aim is to demystify the process of buying your property in France. These are the ten steps to purchase your place in the sunny South of France. Readers can also refer to our glossary of terms.
1: Consider your budget – If you are thinking about buying for cash then please don’t hesitate to email us or give us a call to chat about your prospective purchase. If you would prefer to get a mortgage, or want to discuss all your financial options please do this right at the beginning. You’ll see from our mortgages guides that there are certain rules to qualifying for a loan in France and these are worth checking out early in the process. Due to some excellent rates available it may also be worth considering a loan even if you have the cash available. Please contact our finance team for a free consultation. The sooner you start to collate your dossier the better. You can click here to download a PDF document with a list of paperwork needed for your mortgage application
2. Open a currency account – if your purchase is going to mean that you need to move money into Euros you should investigate this now. Normally you will need to carry out at least two large transfers, the 10% deposit at the beginning and the final settlement at the end. Your bank is rarely the best place to do this and so by setting up a currency trading account at the outset you could save yourself considerable amounts. Click here for more information.
3. Start the house hunt - Our price guide is useful for checking what you can get for your budget whether it's EUR150, 000 or EUR3, 000,000. We will find a list of the best properties that match your budget and specification. Perhaps you'd like a small apartment in a quiet street, a typically French pied-a-terre with a balcony or a modern property with great views. Contact us and we’ll send you a comprehensive list of properties. Tell us the date of your visit and we can even advise on places to stay so that you can make your trip into a holiday.
4: When you arrive we'll tour the area viewing your list of properties. We can answer any queries you may have about mortgages, currency transfers, property law and ownership or the area that we are visiting. Most of our clients choose to split up their viewings with a coffee or lunch so they can soak up the atmosphere. This is often a great time to meet with our finance team too to go through the finer details of your property project, we can easily arrange this meeting for you, just ask.
5: If you see a place you like and wish to make an offer on, we will accompany you to the estate agent handling the purchase for you to make your offer verbally.
6: If you're offer is accepted then you can sign the Compromis de Vente, which is a preliminary sales contract stating that both the buyer and seller agree to trade the property for an agreed price. This can be signed in person or later by post. After this is signed you have seven days to think about your purchase. If you are not happy in any way then you can walk away from the deal having lost nothing.
7: Choose a notary, or notaire, who ensures that the documents that you sign are authentic, that there is no legal action against the property and that there are no debts attached to the property. We have a list of Anglo friendly Notaries who are used to dealing with foreign buyers, or you may select your own. The notaire is a publicly appointed and utterly impartial figure who normally acts for both the buyer and seller. The fee for the notaire is set by the French government, which is paid when you complete your purchase. As totallyRiviera do not charge you a single Euro for our service, the notaire's fee is the only charge to add on to your budget.
8: You must then pay a deposit on your property to the notaire as defined by the Compromis de Vente. This is almost always about 10 percent. When you sign the Compromis de Vente it will have a clause saying that if the buyer backs out of the purchase they will lose their deposit, while if the seller backs out the deposit is returned along with a fee for breach of contract. If you are applying for a loan for the purchase there is a “suspensive clause” that can be added to the Compromis de Vente to protect your deposit in the event that you do not achieve financing.
9: If your French mortgage is accepted the offer will be sent for you to sign. You must wait at least an 11 day cooling off period, but no more than 30 days, to return your forms. The mortgage lender will then send a copy of the offer to your notaire who will prepare a final deed of sale to be signed by you and the seller.
10: Return to France and sign the final deeds on an allotted date, then pick up the keys. The apartment is now yours! Totally Riviera can advise you on getting home insurance and renovating or renting out your new property. Our expert team are always on hand to help you through any of the above points.