An increasing number of foreigners choose to invest in a
property in France. The country’s rich cultural and natural
heritage is not easy to resist. The process is usually smooth
and there are rarely any problems unless there has been a
misunderstanding of the process itself. Mortgages are available
from French agencies; alternatively, buyers may choose to go
with their existing lender under a special overseas mortgage
A large percentage of foreign buyers enter into a property transaction through estate agents. There is another way to buy property in France and that is through a public notary, but estate agents are usually more accustomed to overseas buyers, and more often than not, speak English! The agent’s fees usually range between 4 to 10% of the cost of the property.
Most foreign buyers tend to purchase a property in France with a mortgage. There are two ways to go about this, taking a mortgage from your home country, or opting for a French mortgage. French banks offer several mortgage products, many of which are ‘interest only’. The plan duration can range from 5 years to 30 years and buyers can opt for either a fixed or variable rate mortgage.
Of course, the right mortgage plan depends largely on the purpose of the property. Many buyers want to rent their properties out, and there are special buy-to-let French mortgage plans available for this. These plans allow the buyer to offset the interest on their mortgage payments against the rental income from the property. This may not be possible if the buyer were going for a mortgage from their home country, for example by re-mortgaging with their existing lender. It is therefore always wise to investigate the different options, and get professional advice before selecting a mortgage plan.
Before going ahead with a property transaction with a mortgage, it is important to consider interest rates for the various options available. Over a few years now, French mortgage plans have been known to have lower interest rates than UK mortgages.
Before buying the property it is always important to view the plans of the property itself, as well as the land around it. This helps ensure that there are no surprises in the future and no undesirable structures crop up near your property.
The process of buying a property in France is relatively smooth and straightforward. Any problems arising during the process are usually due to language barriers and misunderstandings. Once both the parties have arrived at an agreement, they sign the first contract. There is a cooling off period of seven days during which the buyer can withdraw without incurring a penalty. After seven days, this contract becomes legally binding. It will include a date when the main contract is to be signed by both parties.
The entire process from making an initial offer through to signing the final contract is known to take about 3 to 4 months. Buyers should always conduct proper research and seek professional advice before taking any steps.