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Buying a property in France

Buying a property in France has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly with UK nationals.

There is something very rewarding about owning your own second home in another country and many find that this arrangement is more preferable to seeking a different destination for each holiday. Since the advent of low cost air flights and the arrival of the Eurotunnel, the French property buying business has become huge.

There are an increasing number of property exhibitions that aim to persuade you to purchase brand new or nearly new properties in France. Sales staff are skilled in using highly seductive marketing methods to sell as many as possible. Like all other salespeople, they know that if a customer has time to go away and think about a purchase, then a sale is lost as is their commission! You should not however feel pressured into ‘signing on the dotted line’ there and then.

You should always seek expert advice when buying your first Investment Property in France. However this article aims to provide a basic insight into points to remember or consider when you embark on buying property in France.

You must bear in mind that buying a property in France is not the same process as buying in the UK. Depending on the type of property you intend to buy and possibly the area, the laws on buying and selling property in France can vary somewhat.

Be careful with the capital gains tax as this is chargeable on all second home sales owned for less than two years. at a rate of 33% with a sliding reduction on profit percentages over a 20 years period.

French property transactions involve a french ‘notary’ – a legally qualified public servant who represents both the seller and the purchaser. There is no such equivalent person involved in UK property transactions. All of the notary’s costs (ranging from 8 – 14% of the purchase price) are payable by the purchaser.

You should be prepared that most notaries will not speak English. If you do not speak the language fluently, you should make sure that you take someone with you who does!

If making your purchase with cash, the process will take up to two months – this can be extended by another month if paying by mortgage. If you need a mortgage, things become a bit more complicated. A French bank will issue a mortgage as long as you can show regular income. By French law the total of all of your mortgage payments worldwide cannot be more than 30% of your total income. You must also have mortgage insurance for a large mortgage and a physical examination at the bank’s expense.

When buying property in France, a preliminary sales contact (binding on both parties) is negotiated once an agreement on price is reached between purchaser and seller. If the purchaser intends to finance the property by mortgage, it is necessary for this to be declared at the time of the agreement and a substantive clause would protect the purchaser's interests in the event that a loan is not made available.

The property would be withdrawn from the market and the legal system would commence its checks etc

A 10% (minimum) deposit is then payable by the purchaser and is held in a secure account until completion of the purchase and the property is taken off the market. If the purchase is abandoned because the purchaser has a change of heart, the deposit is lost. If however, clauses in the intial agreement are not met, the deposit would be refundable. Similarly, In the event of the discovery of a `planned nuisance' through the searches, the buyer can withdraw and the deposit is returned.

Surveys of the condition of the property you intend to purchase by professional surveyors or 'experts' are unusual in France. It is more usual to request local artisans to give an opinion as to the condition of say the roof, or the walls and for them to give quotations for the work.

It is advisbale when buying a property in France to make a French Will as inheritance laws vary in France to those in the UK. French succession law does not allow you to leave your share of the property to whom you wish - even if you have an existing Will. The Government of France has very specific inheritance laws. By law, on your death your property is divided equally between your spouse and your surviving children. There are some steps you can take to ensure that the surviving spouse can continue to live in the house or flat. Speak with a lawyer about this before you buy the property.

Once you own your property in France, you will be liable for local property tax, occupancy taxes (where applicable) as well as French tax when you sell the property. You will also need to pay tax on any income you receive from letting out your property.

You will need to open a French bank account to pay for all utilities to your property.

The final contract is signed at the notary’s office and the property passes to the purchaser who must pay the balance of the purchase price to the notary forward onward transmission to the vendor. (The balance must be in the notary’s possession before the contract is signed.)

Prior to completion, it will also be necessary to provide to the notary with a copy of the purchaser’s birth certificate translated into French and, if applicable, a copy of a Marriage Certificate also in French.

From the signing of the Contract the purchaser is responsible for the insurance of all the buildings on the property.

December 2005

Public Holidays in France

French organisations and businesses close on public holidays and although some shopping centres and grocers open for part of the day, the majority of shops are closed.

Public holidays in France are 1st January (New Year's Day), 1st May (Fête du Travail) , 8th May (Fête de la Victoire de 1945) , 14th July (Bastille Day - France's National holiday), 15th August (Assumption), 1st November (All Saints Day), 11th November (Armistice de 1918 -Armistice Day) , 25th December, Easter Monday, Ascension and Whit Monday.

Public holiday closures do not affect police stations and hospitals.


The second largest country in Europe and the most visited country in the world, France is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain.

With a landscape ranging from high mountains to lush farmland, the French way of life is deemde to be one of the most civilised you can get. With a population of around 60 million, it can see almost 80 million visitors per year.

There is always a new place to visit in France. Travelling around is very easy and public transport extremely reasonable and reliable. Paris of course is an outstanding cultural centre – packed with historic buildings and no shortage of culture and history. Other popular tourist areas in France include Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille and Bordeaux. On the northern Atlantic coast, Normandy has a rich heritage of cathedrals, beaches and battlefields. Brittany however, lies to the west and is renowned for its Celtic links, beuatiful coastline and seafood.

Skiing in France is popular, with the Alps attracting thousands of enthusiastic skiers each year.

FRANCE VILLAS HOLIDAY RENTALS - 11 examples from our database

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VACATION RENTAL: Villa in south-west France, sleeps up to 10, in the countryside
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VACATION RENTAL: Beautifully renovated farmhouse set in wonderfully secluded grounds.
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VACATION RENTAL: Three bedroom Villa with Private Pool near Carcassonne
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VACATION RENTAL: Villa enclosed in quiet wooded area close to Seillans beautiful medieval village
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VACATION RENTAL: Beautiful French Villa + Apartment with Pool near Mougins
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VACATION RENTAL: Cassis Holiday Rental - Seaside Mediterranean vacation Villa
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VACATION RENTAL: Campagnac Villa - Luxury villa with private pool. Peace & quiet.
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VACATION RENTAL: Tastefully converted ancient stonebarn, sleeps 8, swimming pool and games room.
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VACATION RENTAL: A modern provencal style villa at the edge of Cap d' Antibes
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3 Bedrooms

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VACATION RENTAL: A charming little property that is very large inside.beach 10mins. Town 10mins.
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VACATION RENTAL: holiday rental villa with pool in foothills of the pyrenees
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Popular Towns/Cities for adverts within France

SAINT-GERVAIS VILLAS - VENDEE - Villa Rentals  SAINT-GERVAIS VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

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MONTAURIOL VILLAS - PYRENEES-ORIENTALES - Villa Rentals  MONTAURIOL VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

CHATEAUNEUF VILLAS - ALPES-MARITIMES - Villa Rentals  CHATEAUNEUF VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

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FAYENCE VILLAS - VAR - Villa Rentals  FAYENCE VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

CASSIS VILLAS - BOUCHES-DU-RHONE - Villa Rentals  CASSIS VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

VILLESEQUELANDE VILLAS - AUDE - Villa Rentals  VILLESEQUELANDE VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

BERGERAC VILLAS - DORDOGNE - Villa Rentals  BERGERAC VILLAS 1 adverts present in our database.

DISCLAIMER: You should note that all property information listed on this website has been provided by the advertisers and no guarantee can be given by Structured Internet Ltd regarding any of the properties listed. Whilst every care has been taken in publishing the information, Structured Internet Ltd is not responsible for individual content and will therefore not be liable for any misunderstandings, errors, omissions, or claims arising from any enquiries or bookings made with an advertiser. You are advised to take the necessary steps to assure yourself of the legitmacy of any information published before renting or buying a property and ensure all details, booking conditions, prices etc are confirmed by e-mail or in writing with the owner or vendor. Travel Insurance is essential and you should always ensure that you get adequate cover from a reputable supplier.

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