Finding a Property in France

How to go about searching for a property in France...

Much information is readily available from magazines and Internet websites advertising properties for sale in France; it is very easy to get an idea of what type of property is available and at what cost before beginning a search. There are many ways to search for properties: estate agents, property magazines and house hunters. Popular or urban areas usually have estate agents who offer an English-speaking service. The location and type of the property should be carefully considered based on whether it is to be a main residence, second home, holiday home to be let out on occasion or a property to be let as an investment for the future. Make a list of the important elements: purchase price, overall size and number of rooms, requirement for a garden, terrace garage or cellar, or any other elements.

Property condition

The condition of a property is also an important consideration when buying with a mortgage. Certain types of property such as wood cabins, stone cabanons, derelict barns and properties with agricultural land are not acceptable. A property should be classed as "habitable" meaning structurally sound and having the basic utilities of electricity, mains water and sewerage system, all conforming to the current regulations. Some lenders do not accept properties that have been registered for commercial use such as gîtes and chambres d'hôtes.

Renovations, alterations and additions

Buying to renovate or build a new property demands careful pre-planning. Certain French building regulations are very different from other countries and permission has to be granted from the local mairie (Town Hall). Detailed applications must be completed for the Certificat d'urbanisme (certificate of town planning/urban development) and other documents, which state what developments are allowable on the property and its land. This might require the advice of an expert - an architect or surveyor. When relying on mortgage finance for renovation works, the works must be completed by tradesmen who are registered in France. Registered tradesmen have the correct insurances covering their work - it is the essential guarantee for the bank or lender.

Further Information

With information by Carole Bayliss Copyright © Carole & Tony Bayliss All Rights Reserved 2014 Updates and additions by Joan Jenkins, Gérante (Managing Director) ACTOUS IMMOBILIER SARL, 8 Grand Rue - 16240 Villefagnan