Understanding the nuts and bolts of French property purchase

Understanding the nuts and bolts of French property purchase

Understanding the nuts and bolts of French property purchase

France has been the chosen retirement destination for Britons for several decades to date, and the Brexit threat doesn’t seem to have lessened its eternal appeal.

Property sales in France are rising again as Britons are deciding to take a chance and move across the English Channel before Brexit finally kicks in. Property prices, except in Paris and a few elite areas, are still affordable, and even if the UK is left out in the cold in March next year, ownership of a home as proof of a wish for permanent residency isn’t such a bad idea.

The only downside to buying French real estate is the terrifyingly slow French bureaucratic system, which seems to rely on reams of complicated paperwork only understood by a French real estate specialist lawyer. Notaries, as they’re called, have as bad a time getting everything right as you will, and it’s essential to use one as you’ll get absolutely nowhere on your own. In brief, it’s a marathon of getting together piles of paperwork and ensuring it all ends up in the right place.

The average time taken is three months from viewing, making an offer and having it accepted, during which time you must keep in regular, preferably fortnightly, contact with your chosen notary after ensuring he’s received every single document you’ll need. He won’t contact you as he’s very, very busy with a good number of other expats attempting to get their hands on their French dream home.

If you’re getting a mortgage, much the same applies, especially as regards regular contact with your mortgage broker or bank. In France, getting a mortgage also involves getting insurance, with this process requiring a few more reams of paperwork, approvals and even a blood test! Contacting you bank every ten days is recommended.

You also need to realise the completion date you’ve been given may well be changed, often at the last minute, thus forcing buyers to rearrange their lives in a very short time. The last, important key point for buyers is to understand exactly what they’re about to purchase. Checking the title deed, seller declaration, conditional clauses and more can only be done by an experienced,English-speaking notary with a degree of fluency, so making sure you’ve got one before you even start the process is essential.

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