There are lots of great reasons for buying property in France and it’s not hard to understand why it’s the number one location for British expats living overseas. There are almost 150,000 UK expat living in France, and around 46% of these are over the age of 55.

If you’re thinking about early retirement and perhaps considering whether a move to France would be a good plan, the following brief summary may help you make a decision:

Arranging your finances

Some expat living in France retain their UK bank accounts when they move. However, this can work out expensive over the long term. Any cash withdrawn from ATMs will incur fees, such as exchange rate charges. So, you may want to consider the benefits of setting up an account in France to run alongside your UK bank account.

If you have savings or a cash lump sum, check out exchange rates prior to making any large cash transfers to France. Poor exchange rates can impact on the available total considerably. If you move to France at a time when euro exchange rates are very low, you could just transfer your living expenses for a month or so and hope the rates will improve at a later date.

French healthcare

Once you’ve lived in France for at least three months you will be able to access the universal healthcare service, which will provide you with instant and continued free healthcare for the duration of your stay. You will also be able to apply to get a carte vitale.

Cost of living

The cost of living in France differs from UK living expenses. You’ll find food quite a bit more expensive, but petrol and alcohol are far cheaper than in the UK. If you do buy a property needing renovation the costs of DIY supplies and tools is also a lot more in France. Many expats tend to return to the UK for a couple of weeks to buy all their DIY supplies as this works out much cheaper. Running your French home will generally work out around the same as in the UK, as French utility costs are comparable.

And, finally, buying a property in France can be much cheaper than in the UK. Brits tend to be amazed at the size of some of the homes on the market, and many of them also feature extensive gardens or land. Of course, this will depend on where you plan to buy a home as properties in some of the popular holiday locations or Paris are a lot dearer. 

If you’re looking around for French mortgages, get in touch with HB Property to find out about some of the amazing expat mortgages we can source.

Typical costs associated with buying property on the French Riviera

Expats in France or non-residents looking to buy a property on the French Riviera would do well to consider our helpful advice prior to making any firm buying decisions.

About buying a home on the French Riviera

The French Riviera is seeing an upsurge in property interest from UK buyers. So there’s no time like the present for buying your new home. Many buyers are purchasing homes in the area between Nice and Cannes, whether they opt for modern apartment homes or luxury villas. This area is extremely diverse, with a multicultural community that’s very welcoming to expats. It’s a good idea to check out all the different types of French mortgages available. This way you can find the best deals, along with the typical costs associated with property purchase.

What are the costs entailed with buying a property?

On top of the cost for the property you buy, you will also need to factor in costs relating to any applicable mortgage and associated professional fees.

The kinds of fees that will be levied include: 

Deposit

You will need to pay a purchase deposit for your new home on the date you sign the sale agreement (Compromis de Vente). This is usually between 5% – 10% of the purchase price. It’s best to pay your deposit to the Notaire handling the purchase and not direct to the property vendor. Doing so it can then be held as security until completion takes place.

Mortgage deposit

If you already live in France and pay taxes on your income, you could qualify for a 100% mortgage. However, all other nationals generally need to provide deposits of between 25% – 30% of the total purchase price. HB Property can offer advice on the best available deals to suit your needs. 

Notaire

You should expect legal fees and taxes to amount to around 7% of the purchase price of your property. These Notaire fees will pay for any land or property registration. This is the equivalent of the stamp duty paid in the UK. All Notaires offer the same standard fee for their services, so you won’t be able to negotiate a cheaper deal elsewhere. 

Agency fees

If you buy your French home through an estate agent you should expect to pay fees of between 5% – 7%. These fees are generally built into the sale figure of the home and will be paid by the vendor once the sale goes through. You should check this is the case prior to making any firm buying decision. 

Get in touch with HB Property to discover all the ways we can help smooth the buying process for your French Riviera home.

When looking to buy a house in France, it can be helpful to learn a bit about the process. As with any property purchase, it can be daunting, especially when you are buying in a foreign country.  Understanding the process can make taking that leap a bit easier. Have a read through our guide to buying a property in France. Then, get out there and find your dream home.

Finding a property

You can use the same method as you would here in the UK to find a French property. So, think online searches, newspapers, or find a agent immobilier (estate agent) to assist with your search. Once you’ve found the perfect property, you should make an offer.

At this stage, you need to ensure that:

  1. You have finances in place
  2. You decided on what types of mortgage you will choose 
  3. Any surveys that you want prior to the purchase going through are done

Acceptance of offer

When the offer is accepted, you and the vendor should sign a compromis de vente. This is basically the exchange of contracts. In France, it happens at the beginning of the house purchase, rather than at the end. Consider if you need to add any clauses to the contracts, such as whether the sale would be dependent on planning permission being granted or if it is subject to the results of a survey. At this point, as the buyer, you need to pay a 10% deposit to the notaire (the solicitor responsible for transactions).

Cooling off period

After the compromis de vente has been signed by both parties, the buyer has a 10-day cooling off period, during which time they can pull out of the sale and still get their deposit back. When this 10-day period is over, the contract is legally binding and either party will be subject to a penalty if they decide to pull out.

Completion

Once all the searches are complete you will be invited into the office of the notaire responsible for your transaction to sign the acte de vente or the final contract. Now that you have signed the final contract, you will need to pay the rest of the fees before you receive an attestation de propriété. This is a certificate which confirms that the property now belongs to you. You will also receive the keys at this point and then you are all ready to move in.

Are you feeling ready to make the move and buy a house in France? Please do get in touch with one of our French Mortage Advisors here at Harrison Brook Property so we can assist you.

Buying property abroad? Where to buy property? Choose France

Buying property abroad is a dream for many people but it is not for the faint-hearted. Buying a second home or a rental home is often seen as a long-term investment, acquiring property differs from all other investments in that it comes with its own unique set of challenges, cultural, legal, and of course financial.

When looking for property abroad, a holiday home or if you are looking to permanently relocate, we at Harrison Brook Property are here for you. Our work at HB Property is to help you decide where to buy the property, and assist and advise you on how to navigate the foreign and often complicated property markets.

In mainland Europe, our answer to the question “where to buy property” is France.

Why France? 

We love its rich historbuying property abroad y; unique culture; cuisine – which varies from region to region; geography – from sandy beaches to the snow-covered Alps; climate; the diversity of its people and much much more.

As an investment destination, the French property market is relatively stable and low risk unlike that of some other European nations. The stability of the property market is the result of a strong French economy coupled with an astute banking sector, and prudent lending practices that have maintained stable property prices in the key areas.

The three main areas in France where your money and property purchase can be seen as a safe bet are the French Riviera, the Alps and of course Paris. But then this obviously depends on what you are looking to buy and what you are looking to use it for. We at HB Property specialise in International clients purchasing property in France, we specialise in the French Riviera, where are office is conveniently located, just outside of Nice, but we can cover the whole of France with our panel of French and Monegasque lending partners.

Buying Property Abroad – French mortgages: what you need to know

Generally, French lenders place a lot of emphasis on the ‘repayment ability’ of their clients. This means we need to prove your capacity to repay the loan, by showing all current incomes and all current outgoings, add on the new loan and prove that you are able to repay the loan. This involves showing a debt ratio based on incomes to outgoings, but the bank always need to know who they are lending to, your assets, savings etc to have a complete understanding of a clients personal financial situation. The result is that default rates are low, and this has helped to stabilise French property prices.

Normally to access a French mortgage, the lending institutions will require you to place a minimum deposit of between 15% and 40% of the purchase price of the property depending on your country of residence.

At HB Property, we always have an initial call to better understand a client’s personal financial situation and what they are looking to buy and where. This enables us to give an idea of feasibility and what we think might be possible with our lending partners. But it also makes the client aware as to how much they will need of their own funds and what the potential costs involved are going to be.

Though a number of French retail banks do not offer mortgages to non-residents, we at HB Property have in place all the partnerships with all the French banks who will lend to International clients. These lenders offer this service at competitive interest rates, which currently are some of the lowest on the continent. We at Harrison Brook Property will help you find the solution and bank who offer non-resident mortgages that suit the client best based on their country of residence and sources of income. We offer advice on the most suitable non-resident and expat mortgages for you through our panel of lenders.

HB Property will walk with you from the start of your property journey to the end, and endeavour to help you fulfil your dreams.

So please do not hesitate to get in touch to better understand how we can help you obtain a mortgage and make that French dream become a reality.

What types of French mortgage exist?

Purchasing a property in France is a life-changing decision, whether it’s for the food, the climate or having an asset in euros, the French property market has always been attractive for International buyers. However, it can also be full of surprises and worries, not least when it comes to arranging and securing a mortgage which so many types of French mortgage available. To make the purchase as smooth and hassle-free as possible, it’s important to get started early. At HB Property, we can help you get the ball rolling on your French mortgage. We work with clients purchasing a range of properties all over France and can advise on the right mortgage options for you. Here is our guide on the main types of French mortgage we help our clients obtain:

Types of French mortgage:

  • Second home/holiday property

Having a holiday home in France is a dream for many people. You can come and go as you please, safe in the knowledge that your little piece of France will always be there. Securing the right mortgage is key, so talking to our property experts who will be able to advise you on all the requirements and things you need to know when owning a property in France.

  • Investment property

Many people looking for property in France choose to invest in a rental property before making the big move. Purchasing a rental property in the current market gives you a foothold on the property ladder at a time when interest rates are still low and can potentially offer great returns. But it is important to make sure you are buying in the right place as rental markets differ considerably across the French Riviera and even more so across France. So please do not hesitate to contact us for buying advice.

  • Refinancing your mortgage

Another way to take advantage of the current low-interest rates is to refinance your existing mortgage. The savings that can be made with a more competitive interest rate are huge, usually, people tend to keep the same monthly payment but considerably reduce the duration of the loan. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like us to look at the potential savings that could be made on your current mortgage.

  • Main home mortgage

If you are already living in France and are a French tax resident then we have all the banking partners in place to help you get the best deal on your property purchase here in France. The language barriers can often cause issues when trying to obtain a loan but our bilingual staff will help source a loan for you.

Whatever you’re looking for, we can help, our experienced team has over 15 years experience in French banking and loans for International clients. Our clients find it very reassuring to have the first initial contact to get an idea of the feasibility of what they are looking to do, based on their own personal situation and the property purchase price. Ensuring they fully understand the types of French mortgage available is crucial. 

So please do not hesitate to get in touch with our professional team at HB Property for expert guidance and help in obtaining a mortgage here in French.