Many UK residents have bought French properties in Normandy, Paris or Provence in the last few years. Having a French Home is a dream many of us harbour. Before delving into the housing market in France, it is important to be aware of how the process works there. Knowing this can make the entire process smoother and you are likely to come out on the other side with a beautiful home at the right price.
The French property market sees hundreds of foreign buyers and is therefore straightforward and foreigner-friendly! However, language is a strong barrier if one does not speak French, so being fully aware of the system is always a good idea.
The entire buying and selling process is very well regulated. The main difference is that in French housing, the sale becomes binding very early on in the process. This can be confusing to English buyers. A house can be secured very early on, so nobody else can touch your property. A good thing, I'm sure you will agree?
Estate agents are common in France, and so are public notaries. Estate agents generally deal with many foreign buyers and are therefore well versed with dealing in English. The prices displayed usually include agents' fees. Fees range from anything between 4 to 10 per cent of the property cost.
No matter who you buy through, the actual process of the sale has to be carried out by a notary, known as notaire. Notary's fees are also generally included in the agent's fees. These are between 2 to 8 per cent of the property cost.
There are two main contracts to be signed, the second one being binding on the buyer. There is a cooling off period between the two contracts, during which the seller can withdraw without incurring a penalty, but the buyer cannot.