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Moving to France – how to do it?

Moving to France – how to do it?

Lots of people have dreamed of buying a property in France. But the buying process often stops them. Indeed, there are so many differences between France and the UK that many people are disheartened and give up before beginning the process. It is not that difficult, after all. All you need is to be organised.

Lots of people have dreamed of buying a property in France. But the buying process often stops them. Indeed, there are so many differences between France and the UK that many people are disheartened and give up before beginning the process. It is not that difficult, after all. All you need is to be organised. Here are the steps you need to take to put an end to the nightmare!

First and foremost, you have to begin your property search before planning a trip to France. Begin by clearly listing your criteria: choose the French region where you would like to settle and what sort of property you would like to buy. Thanks to the Internet, it is much easier nowadays!

Here are some clues for your criteria list:

  • What is the reason for your purchase? (holidays, permanent home, rental, retirement)
  • What is you area of interest?
  • Which location would you prefer? (Seashore, countryside, village, town, isolated, etc.)
  • Do you already know the region in which you intend to buy a property?
  • Which type of property do you wish to buy? (Villa, stone house, barn, castle, cottage, flat, B&B, mill, farmhouse, vineyard, etc.)
  • Which property condition do you prefer? (Habitable, full renovation, etc.)

The second important thing to sort out before planning your property viewing is your finances. Make sure you have them in order because this will save you a lot of time. Your bank may help you in this process. You should also have answers to the following questions:

  • –    Do you have a property to sell before proceeding with the purchase?
  • –    Do you need financing?
  • –    What is your budget?

Once you have found your dream French property, you have to make a written offer. If the vendor accepts it, you will then sign the written contract of sale agreement, called “compromis de vente”. It legally binds together the seller and the purchaser but also clarifies details about the purchaser, the seller, the property and the purchase (price and fees related).

You are allowed to insert clauses in the Compromis de vente. They are called “clauses suspensives” and allow you to withdraw from the purchase if for example you are refused a request for outline planning permission or if you are turned down for a French mortgage.

When both parties have signed the contract, the property is taken off the market, and the vendor is not allowed to accept a higher offer than yours. You also need to send a 5% deposit. You then have a 7-day cooling off period, during which you can withdraw from the sale without giving any penalty.

{mosbanner right}Since the Compromis de vente is signed, the Notaire will check records regarding the property and land, such as land boundaries and right of ways. He is in charge of supervising the necessary searches (termite, lead and asbestos complete and available inspection reports) and informing the buyer of any servitude rights or new laws regarding septic systems. He is legally bound to act in the interest of both parties and must disclose to buyers and sellers all the legal requirements prior to a sale. This process generally lasts two to three months so being patient and organized will help!

The last step of the buying process is a meeting in the Notaire’s office. You and the seller will sign the “contrat de vente” (final deed of sale), and you will be given the keys of your new property!

The best way to integrate in France is at first to introduce yourself to your new neighbours and to participate to the local life, for example there are numerous club and associations in France and the best way to know them is by visiting your local town house.

We also advice to start learning French, it will help you in your property search. French will better welcome someone who tries to speak their own language (try to imagine a foreigner who arrives in the UK, would you be pleased if he speaks English?).

About the Author: M. Cany works for Sextant French Property an English company specialized on the French Property market. The company works with a Network of English speaking French agents. Tel: 0207 428 4910

©M. Cany