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10 Golden Rules For Buying A Property In France

News Posted On: 17 October 2014

French property news

Buying a property abroad can be a golden opportunity – but it can be a fraught experience, too. Things you assume can turn out to be false. Other countries can have laws or cultural standards different from those you’re used to, and buying a property is never without pitfalls in any case.

Following a few simple rules, though, can make your property purchase a simpler, happier experience.

1: What do you want?
The market will often supply a range of size, style and type that would satisfy anyone –but you’re not anyone, you’re you. What do you like? What kind of property could you never imagine yourself living in? Decide what features you’re looking for and don’t be dissuaded by ‘good deals,’ or by anything else.

2: Get familiar
Scope out the area you’re planning to live in. Get acquainted with the location, and decide, just as you did with properties, what kind of area you want to live in: rural? Suburbia? City centre?

3: Distinguish the temporary from the permanent
Some aspects of a property are temporary. If the guttering is trashed and the windows are awful that’s not great – but it’s not permanent either. A busy, loud thoroughfare, or being on the same street as a nightclub, isn’t something you’ll ever be able to change. Figure out whether you can live with the property’s permanent features before you get any further involved.

4: Boots on the ground
Starting your search on the ground and in person can be far more productive than searching online or through agents. Don’t believe it? Look online for properties in your area – then go for a walk and see how many ‘for sale’ and ‘for let’ signs never made it online. Additionally vendors often place properties with multiple agencies, so they seldom show the outside of the property in order to prevent agencies knowing this. Details of property’s location and exterior are concealed, and the first look at the property might be all you need – to sell you on it or to make you sure you could never live in it.

5: Size matters
How much space do you really need for the life you want? It’s tempting to go for the largest place you can, but it’s all expense and it won’t just show up in the initial purchase price: additional square metres will cost you additional Euros to refurbish, clean, heat and repair, as well as in taxes. Don’t sell yourself short – but don’t forget the real cost of a big empty house.

6: Speaking of real costs…
You won’t just be paying the purchase cost. You’ll also face other costs, like building management charges. In France you’ll pay for things like having a concierge, car parking and gardens if you live in an apartment block, as well as building management costs. If you’re moving to work or with young children figure in transport costs!

7: True to type
What kind of property are you looking for? If you want a house, don’t even look at the apartment ads – your needs won’t change for a few Euros off. Decide what you want and stick to it.

8: Drill down to detail
Details are important. Price, location, refurbishment status – all details. The kind of ‘ideal for young families’ fluff that populates estate agents’ windows isn’t detail – but it isn’t useful either. You need to get down to figures so you know what you’re dealing with.

9: It’s all about timing
If you’re selling one property and buying another, you need to juggle two schedules. Don’t be caught holding a bill you can’t pay because the money hasn’t come through yet. If you see a place you love but your old home isn’t completely signed off on yet, you might want to take a chance – or you might want to wait until you only have one sale to wrangle at once.

10: Look ahead
One day, you might have to sell the home you’re buying right now. You might find that your needs change – wasn’t there a time you didn’t want a home in France? You might have to move for a job, or want somewhere smaller on retirement. Whatever your reasons, consider the future when you buy. If you take an unusual property, you’ll need to find someone unusual to sell it to when the time comes.

Keep these 10 rules in mind when you’re searching for a property in France, and get the property of your dreams!

Written by Les Calvert of - overseas property reporter

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