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Buying a house in France: 5 essential steps

Buying a house in France is a significant step, be it for residency, investment or holiday purposes. The process, although thrilling, involves a series of steps that need careful consideration. This guide outlines the five fundamental stages to navigate the French real estate market successfully.

Table of contents

Buying a House in France 5 Essential Steps

Step 1: Define your real estate project

Before embarking on the house-hunting journey, it’s crucial to assess your financial capacity. Understanding your budget ensures a focused search. Seeking assistance from a broker or bank is advisable, as they can help simulate your financing plan based on various factors like savings, income and professional situation. Many online resources also provide tools to estimate your borrowing capacity. Simultaneously, creating a list of search criteria, including preferences for location, number of rooms and outdoor space, is vital. 

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Step 2: Search for real estate

With a defined budget and clear criteria, the hunt for the perfect property begins. This can be done through various channels – browsing specialised websites, engaging with real estate agencies, or relying on word of mouth.

When you’re inspecting a property that piques your interest, it’s vital to gather key information before making a commitment:

  • Area of the property: Understanding the total area of the property is crucial. This allows you to calculate the price per square meter, enabling you to compare it with past transactions in the same area. You can do this using the Request for Land Value site.
  • Real estate diagnosis: It’s important to review the real estate diagnosis. This will provide you with critical information, such as the presence of asbestos or any potential risk of flooding, among other factors.
  • Co-ownership charges: In the case of an apartment, it’s essential to request information regarding the co-ownership charges. This helps you to anticipate ongoing costs associated with the property.
  • Local taxes: Understanding the local tax situation, especially property tax, is essential. This will give you a clearer picture of the financial responsibilities associated with the property.
  • Urban projects and planning: Get in touch with the local town hall to gather information about any upcoming urban projects that might impact the neighbourhood. Additionally, inquire about the local urban planning plan (PLU) which dictates aspects like possible extensions or developments in the area. This insight is invaluable in understanding the future of the neighbourhood.

> You might be interested in this article: Buying a property in France compared to Spain

Embarking on a viewing trip in France: Your essential guide

A viewing trip is your passport to the soul of your potential new home. Just as you wouldn’t buy a property in the UK without seeing it firsthand, the same applies abroad. It’s your opportunity to soak in the atmosphere, explore the surroundings, and get a feel for the available properties.

Introducing our comprehensive guide to viewing trips in France
In our guide, we’ve distilled the essence of a viewing trip, providing you with indispensable insights for this crucial phase of your property acquisition journey:

  • Define your requirements: Before you set off, it’s vital to fine-tune your preferences. Clearly outline your desired location and establish a budget to streamline your search.
  • The power trio: Estate agent, currency expert, solicitor. Discover how aligning with an estate agent, a currency exchange specialist, and an independent solicitor can elevate your property quest to new heights. Each plays a pivotal role in ensuring a seamless and secure transaction.
  • Cracking the code on viewing: Navigate the options for your viewing trip, whether you choose to be accompanied by an estate agent, join forces with a developer, or embark on the adventure solo. Each approach offers unique advantages tailored to your preferences.

Ready to make informed choices? Click here to download the guide NOW!

> You might be interested in this article: 5 insider insights for purchasing a property in France

Step 3: Write a purchase offer

Once you’ve found a property that captures your interest, it’s time to make a formal offer to the seller. This offer should preferably be in writing and must specify the purchase price and the validity period (usually one to two weeks). The seller then has this period to accept or reject the offer. If rejected, they might propose a counter-offer. If accepted, you can proceed to arrange for a real estate loan.

> You might be interested in this article: Property rights in France: Know your rights when buying a house

Step 4: Sign a promise of sale

While not obligatory, signing a promise of sale is highly recommended to secure the transaction. This preliminary contract outlines the terms and conditions of the sale. It can be drawn up privately with the seller or through a notary. Involving a notary is wise as they ensure that essential clauses are included, providing legal protection for both parties. The promise of sale grants a 10-day withdrawal period, allowing buyers to renounce the purchase unconditionally.

The promise of sale document should include specific details about both the seller and the buyer, as well as pertinent information about the property and the transaction:

Details of the seller and buyer:

  • Contact information of both the seller and the buyer


Information about the property:

  • Property address
  • History of the property, including the date of the previous deed of sale and the name of the previous owner
  • Comprehensive description of the property, potentially including a detailed floor plan
  • Any existing mortgages or servitudes on the property.
    For properties within a co-ownership arrangement, include specific details such as co-ownership regulations, minutes of general meetings from the last three years, and the projected budget for ongoing expenses


Transaction details:

  • Specify the professional responsible for the sale and outline who is responsible for covering their fees (buyer or seller)
  • Clearly state the sale price and detail the payment terms, including whether a loan is involved
  • Establish the validity period of the promise of sale and the deadline for finalising the deed of sale
  • Provide information regarding the conditions under which the right of withdrawal can be exercised
  • Indicate the anticipated date of availability for the property


> You might be interested in this article: Getting a mortgage in France

Step 5: Sign the deed of sale

The final step of buying a house in France. It formalises the transaction, making you the official owner of the property. This deed must be in the form of an authentic document drawn up by a notary. The keys are handed over upon payment of the agreed sum, covering the property price and acquisition costs (notary fees). While the notary initiates necessary administrative procedures, it may take some time before you receive your property title.

> You might be interested in this article: Foreign exchange for overseas property buyers

Save on your cost with Ibanista when buying a house in France

Ibanista is a specialist foreign currency provider based in London. With a team boasting 15 years of experience in legacy foreign exchange brokerages, we’ve assisted thousands of individuals and businesses in transferring money abroad.

Our collaboration with reputable UK-based and France-based Fintech firms, regulated by HMRC and FCA, allows us to offer advantageous wholesale currency exchange rates. Our bespoke solutions are designed to protect clients from currency fluctuations, ensuring their financial plans stay on course.

Discover how our partnership-driven approach and specialised currency protection solutions can benefit your financial needs today.

Ready to save money when buying a house in France? Let’s discuss how we can optimise your finances. Connect with us for a conversation on foreign exchange insights and more.

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