Our French Property Purchase Checklist
A comprehensive French property purchase checklist to help you get organised to purchase your French property using a French mortgage.
By following our French property purchase check-list you can save time, effort, money and be quickly settled in your French Property without any unpleasant surprises.
Spoilt for Choice
Deciding that you are looking to buy a property in France is easy: you’re spoilt for choice.
Although much of the process takes place in a foreign language and is subject to French Law, the steps that you have to take are equivalent to buying a property at home.
The French property purchase checklist is designed to help you with your French property purchase by reminding you to examine all the basics before you jump into the French property market feet first.
You will have to produce a lot of routine documentation to satisfy all the French administrative procedures, so fore-warned is forearmed and using our checklist a surprising amount of the preparation can be done before you go to France.
Deciding What to Buy
The first questions in any French property purchase checklist are about the type of property to choose:
- An apartment
- A town property
- A rural property
- A new property
- An old property
Your choice may be guided by what you see yourself doing once you have a property, which is why we put location second in our French property purchase checklist.
- Is size important? Would you like to be in the town or countryside, near to a golf course, ski slopes, coast? People who suffer from hay fever will not enjoy a country retreat, for example.
- Many people only take their holidays, or start their house-hunting at one time of the year. It is important to understand what the climate will be like in other seasons.
- There are some obvious advantages to buying new-build, such as the 10-year guarantee for structural soundness, and reduced rate Notaire’s fees, but modern homes tend to have smaller rooms and gardens than older ones and the garden will take time to mature. Our brokers are used to sorting out mortgages for new houses, including those bought off-plan. They will release mortgage funds in stages, just as they do for French borrowers. You should indicate if you are buying a VEFA property on our French mortgage enquiry form.
- Older properties may have larger rooms and more character. They offer more scope for the owner’s imagination, through renovation. On the other hand, they may be more expensive to heat and need running repairs. Some fixtures and fittings will be at the end of their life (or, possibly were never installed in the first place). Mortgages arranged through Best French Mortgage can cater for both your immediate cash needs and later renovations. Renovation and Restoration >
- Think about your must-have features, which it will be difficult to add later: a garden, garage, cave (cellar), terrace or balcony, nearby cafés and restaurants, access to a doctor a dentist and local shopping including that excellent French baker.
- The most suitable property for you depends on whether you plan for it to be your main residence (immediately or later), a second home, a holiday home to be let out occasionally, or even a buy-to-let investment
Deciding How to Pay
- Do you want to pay cash, will you borrow at home and use the cash raised there to buy in France, or would a French mortgage be a sensible choice? You might even want to consider a Euro Switch product so that your overall mortgage interest charges are minimised.
- Although you may be able to afford to pay cash, this will lock up your capital. If you decide to extend your existing mortgage, always bear in mind the warning “Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage”. You may be putting your main home at risk for the sake of your holiday home.
- A French mortgage will be Euro-denominated and charged at Euro interest rates. If you plan to earn some rental income from the property, this can be collected in Euros and put towards the repayments.
- If you would like an idea of what a French mortgage would cost fill in the French mortgage enquiry form.
- For EU (including UK) residents and taxpayers the minimum deposit is normally 15% of the purchase price but in some limited cases a 100% mortgage is possible.
- For those outside EU, the minimum deposit is usually 20%.
- French mortgages are normally repayable when the oldest borrower reaches the age of 70 though some lenders accept 75. We can, in some circumstances, arrange for a higher age limit subject to special insurance conditions.
- Wherever you decide to buy, you will have to produce documentation about yourself and your family, so it’s a good idea to assemble the paperwork before you leave home. If you take original documents, many French administrators will be happy to make their own photocopy. If they request a document to be sent later, they are quite likely to ask for a certified copy (and possibly a translation, too).
- A useful dossier, to prove your civil status and financial standing would include passport, birth and marriage certificate, final decree from a divorce, proof of residence in your home country (such as a driving licence or local tax bill). It is also useful to take along a utility bill as proof of address, as this is commonly accepted in France, and recent bank statements showing income and outgoings. A letter from your bank, confirming that you hold an account is also useful if you don’t have a bank statement to hand.
- If you need to confirm your income, recent pay or pension slips for the last 3 months and a year-end tax certificate are the best documents for employed people and the retired. Self-employed people should have a copy of their last 2-3 years certified accounts and tax returns.
- If you don’t already have a French bank account, contact us and we will help you set one up along with your mortgage at no charge.
- The signing of the contract to purchase requires a deposit (about 5% for new properties and 10% for older properties), so you will need to make sure sufficient funds are available for the Estate Agent or Notaire to hold until completion. Most professional agents are happy for you to telex funds to their client account once you have returned to your home country so remember to collect details of their client account while you are with them. For the best possible € (Euro) exchange rate remember to get a wholesale rate foreign exchange quotation.