It's indeed quite hard to think of another European country which offers such climatic variety, scenic contrast and cultural richness as what you fill find in France.

Basically, almost everything you might be looking for can be found there. We have taken a snapshot of each region, to give you a sneak peek of the treasures waiting for you...

Given a little guidance, buying a French property is easy – and not that different from buying in any other country. Here’s a basic “how to”:

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1. First of all, fix your budget

How much are you willing and able to pay? Get 100% clear about this from the start. You will soon discover if you can buy a chateau or a cagibi (broom cupboard) in your chosen area!

2. How much can you borrow?

How much you can borrow depends on what you would like to reimburse every month. Monthly repayments should not exceed 25-33% of your income.

3. Find that dream property

You can find your dream house through private classified ads in newspapers or on the Internet, or from ads published by estate agents, "notaires" (notaries) or property developers. Examine properties you visit carefully – and take notes as you go along, in order to remember them in detail.

4. Negotiate the price

Negotiating the price is part of the game, so play your cards right! Put yourself in a strong position by noting negative aspects of the property and points that need attention.

5. Eureka! You have decided to buy!

Have you found the ideal place? Great! Now you must “reserve” it, by signing a "compromis de vente" (provisional sales agreement) – or a "contrat de réservation" (reservation agreement) if you are buying new property. This is a critical moment, because you are legally and financially committed, with limited possibilities for backing out!

6. Request a loan

Go to the “Contact us” page to see how to contact Crédit Foncier (by phone, Internet or visit to a local branch office) to request a loan. You will also even find a simple loan-simulation request form you can fill in directly online.

7. Completion

The deed of conveyance is drawn up by a notaire – a legal professional who ensures that all the legal niceties are observed. He will give a copy of the deed of conveyance to both signatories. Completion may take up to 2 to 3 months from the signing of the provisional agreement.

8. Conveyancing fees

As well as reimbursing the notaire for bills he will have settled on your behalf, you will have to pay a taxe de mutation (transfer tax) of approximately 5% of the selling price, and various other taxes (property registration, stamp duty, VAT on new construction). These can amount to between 6% and 8% of the selling price and around 4% for a new property (plus VAT at 19.6%).

  New or old property New construction
Estate agency fees Between 4% and 8%
of the purchase price
Between 8% and 10%
of the purchase price of the land
Notaire fees Property category:
  • New: about 4% of the purchase price
  • Old: about 6.50% of the purchase price
For the purchase of land:
about 4% of the purchase price
VAT For a property under 5 years old:
VAT at 19.6%
(included in the purchase price
announced by the property developer)
For land of:
  • < 2,500 m²:  a rate of 4.80%
  • > 2,500 m²:  a rate of 4.60% for the first 2,500m². For any more, registration rights (at 16.985%) and regional tax
Specific costs For a joint-ownership property:
  • Share of the working-capital fund of jointly-owned property
  • Shared maintenance charges
  • Works voted by the joint owners, dating from the day of signing of the “agreement to sell”.
  • Local facilities tax
  • Cost of works
  • Revision of the construction price (if provided for in the contract)>Insurance
Local taxes
  • Property tax (2-year exemption possible for new accommodation and a newly constructed house)
  • Council tax
  • Assimilated taxes (domestic refuse collection taxes, special facilities tax in certain départements)
Loan fees
  • Administrative charges
  • Obligatory insurance charges
  • Mortgage charges

9. Insuring your new property

As a property owner, you are responsible for any injuries or damage your property may cause to a third party (a tile falling on a passer-by, water damage, etc.) or capital loss. You must therefore take out a comprehensive homeowner’s insurance.

10. Group acquisition

If you and some friends or family members want to buy a holiday home jointly, a good move is to do this by setting up a "société civile immobilière" (SCI) – a non-trading property-investment company. A notaire or an estate agent can advise you about this solution. N.B. The suitability of this buying approach depends on the tax laws in force in your country.

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