Here at Leggett Immobilier, we’ve helped thousands of overseas clients to purchase property in France over the past two decades and know that the different buying process, language and laws can be confusing. Our free buyer’s guide gives an overall understanding to help you feel comfortable and confident with your purchase from the start.
The French property purchase process may be different to what you are used to, but it isn’t usually complicated. As with anything, once you understand how it works, it becomes less daunting. Having an outline knowledge of the process from the outset, will help you to feel more at ease with your purchase, from initial search to final signing.
Step 1. Defining your search
We all start somewhere and getting our search criteria clear in our own minds is the beginning of the process – it isn’t always easy! Some of us are very logical; others make emotional choices. A list is a good place to begin when trying to clarify what is important.
When you have defined your search, talk to your agent and give a full outline of your requirements. Agents should know their portfolio and it will make it easier for them to introduce you to suitable properties and prevent hours wasted looking at unsuitable properties.
Step 2. Visiting France and viewing properties
I know that property viewings can be exciting and sometimes a little stressful. In France your agent will accompany you on every property viewing, guiding you through the process. A good agent can give you the inside track on local schools, restaurants, tourist spots and community life. This will help you to feel better informed about the area in which you are considering buying property and set you out on the right track from the start.
I stress that it is also important that you have considered how you plan to fund your purchase. If you require a loan, make sure you have spoken to mortgage providers before coming to France. Lending criteria can be different here and it makes no sense to come all this way, fall in love with a house if you later find out you can’t borrow in France.
I also understand that potential buyers need to get a feel for the market before taking the plunge, but am constantly amazed at how often people get angry because we won’t show them 25 properties when they have informed us they need to sell their home first to buy here, and haven’t even put it on the market yet. This is simply not fair on vendors here, who are clearly trying to sell their house and expect viewers to at least be in a position to proceed if they like what they see.
Step 3. Making an offer
This is the most exciting time. When you find that dream home in France, it is time to make your offer. Once again it is important to have your finances in order before making the offer for two main reasons. First, it is more difficult to link the purchase here with the sale of a property abroad and, second, if you are looking for the best negotiating position, having your financing agreed or in place makes your position stronger.
If you have any conditions to your purchase, for example, you wish to fund the purchase with a mortgage or only proceed with the purchase if you are able to put in a swimming pool or convert an outbuilding, you should discuss with your agent at this point.
You should feel committed to a house prior to making an offer on it, and only ever offer on one property at a time. Once you have made an offer you should stop viewing other properties.
Discuss your offer with your agent, they may have knowledge on whether the offer is likely to be viable.
Your agent will negotiate on your behalf and will keep you informed on negotiations as they progress.
At this stage, your agent may ask you to sign an Offre d’Achat to show your commitment to purchase the property.
Once your offer has been accepted by the vendor, it is usual that they will not show the property to any other potential purchasers and will feel completely committed to selling their property to you. Your agent will immediately begin gathering the information required to draw up the initial sales document, which is called the Compromis de Vente.
See next: Buying your French home, the final steps
Buying your French home, one step at a time
- Tim Clark