Not sure how to get your property search off the ground? Let us takes you through the nitty-gritties of French house-hunting and en route to finding your dream home in France!
1. Location, location, location
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, location is critical when you start your house hunting expedition. Work out before you look, do you want to be near facilities, in a town, in the country, in between? Do you want neighbours or to be on your own in tranquil bliss? Do you need to be close to a port, airport or train station for travel reasons? Need to go back to the old country for family or business commitments for instance. Once you know what you want, work out what you don’t want. For instance you might not fancy living near a farm (can be a bit smelly)… then start to narrow down the area and move on to step 2.
2. Make friends with the estate agents
Searching on the internet is brilliant but don’t forget to make friend with the immobiliers and notaires. A notaire conducts the legal work of buying and selling but they may also act as a sales agent for properties. They are not allowed to advertise the properties so you can only see details in the notaire’s office window usually, sometimes this brings the price down. However it also means that the notaire might not have the expertise of an immobilier.
If you’re searching online use the phrase maison a vendre and the location you’re searching in for instance: maison a vendre st remy de provence
When you register with an agent be clear about your budget and let them know if you’re willing to buy a property which needs renovating. Again be clear about how much renovating you’re prepared to take on…
You’re after a bargain, not more than you bargained for
3. Talking of Bargains…
Property prices vary from region to region, department to department, town to town. Even expensive areas may offer zones where properties are more affordable. If you have an area in mind, ask local estate agents in the area where to look for cheaper properties.
4. Do your homework
Research the area fully before you commit. If you can, spend some time in the area to get a real feel for a place. Make sure the facilities you want are available, pop into the local town hall and introduce yourself as prospective residents, ask if there are any major plans for the area such as new roads, office blocks etc. One way to really get to grips with a place at little cost is to house sit rather than rent, the chances are that you’ll get treated more like a local that way too!
5. Make an offer
In France it’s the buyer who pays the estate agent’s fee, not the seller. Estate agent fees range from 2% to 12% and maybe even more than that. Check that the price of an advertised property includes the agent fee. When you make an offer you may need to negotiate with the agent as well as the seller. Factor in the notaire’s fee for the legal work plus the property buyer’s tax that’s due to the Government.