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Buying a house in France as a foreigner

Whether for a luxury escape, an eventual retirement destination or just a change of scene, buying a house in France is a dream for many. With plenty of cities to choose from, each with their own character, and swathes of beautiful countryside too, there’s the potential for everyone to find their niche in France. So what should you consider before relocating and buying a house in France?

Almancil - What you need to know before buying property in France - from taxes to popular locations.

Before buying a house in France

France can be a truly romantic place to live, whether you crave the bustle of Paris or the tranquillity found among the lavender fields of the south. However, before you commence buying a home in France, you need to be sure it is the place for you. Renting there for a few months, or even a year, is a good idea before you start your property search in earnest.

People often also find a more rustic or run-down property in France and set their heart on it; there are many great stories of French farmhouses transforming into luxury homes. But if you have no experience, don’t take on a huge renovation project lightly. It’s often better to look around a few newer places, and get a professional opinion to assess whether any work is needed on your property. Homebuyers' surveys are not normally carried out, but you can often find English-speaking surveyors working in France or ask your estate agent to recommend a surveyor.

Where to look?

France is your oyster. When it comes to buying a home in France the market trends show there are plenty of places worth investing. Paris is enduringly popular, with the market upturn continuing in 2018. The 4th, 6th and 7th arrondissements are some of the most exclusive and desirable addresses in the city, with their appealing sandstone façades and typical balconies. For more spacious properties in a quieter, greener area, the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine and opposite the Eiffel Tower, is highly sought after.

Outside of Paris, Rennes, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Lyon are popular cities. The countryside around Bordeaux and the glorious region of Provence hold plenty of appeal too, promising a quieter life in more spacious settings.

If you are looking for sunny holidays in a very glamorous environment, you should take a look at the Côte d’Azur. There are plenty of options, depending on your personal preferences. If you are looking for a lively experience : Nice, capital city of the French Riviera, will be your first destination. Cannes, home to the international film Festival, will  amaze you while taking a unique walk along the Croisette. You should also give Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Saint-Tropez a chance, where many of the world's most discerning people living the sophisticated yet relaxed "à la française" lifestyle while enjoying a magnificent view over the various bays.


Fees and taxes

There are no restrictions for foreign investors buying a house in France, even non-residents. All investors need is a French bank account and a valid ID.

Besides your deposit, you can also expect to pay notaire's fees. These are controlled by government and depend on the tax bracket of the property, but the sum of the fees may not exceed 10% of the property’s value. Stamp duty is also charged at 5.8% for properties over five years old, while newer homes incur a cost of 0.7% plus VAT. However, do check your initial contract and pricing as properties are occasionally sold as toutes tax comprises (TTC), which means all taxes are included. Once you own a residential property in France, you’ll also pay pro-rata land tax and local taxes, taxe d'habitation.

Getting started

Once you’re settled on France as a destination, it’s a great idea to enlist the help of an experienced estate agent, such as Engel & Völkers, as you embark on your property search. Our local experts can provide property insights, point you in the direction of properties matching your criteria, and help navigate the foreign system, paperwork and legal considerations.

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