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Purchasing Property in France


The French Purchase Process in 5 Steps - Page 2

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Step 3. Gaining a French Mortgage & Placing Your Deposit
Step 4. Signing the Final Contract for your House Purchase
Step 5. You are Now the Proud owner of Your French Property

Step 3. Gaining a French Mortgage & Placing Your Deposit

You will need to contact a mortgage broker who specialises in mortgages for French properties or a French bank direct in order to apply for a mortgage, you may have already be in contact and possibly have received an agreement in principal for a loan subject to the property you purchase. However you will not have been able to put in a formal application for a mortgage until you have signed your first contract and it will be necessary to send a copy of this with your application.

If you have stated that you will require a loan in order to purchase then this will be made a condition of the contract that you sign and will give you the possibility of pulling out should your application for a mortgage be refused. Hence the vendor will have to wait perhaps two to three months before knowing that the property will definitely be sold. This condition within the contract will make it subject to mortgage and will usually have a limited period of around two to three months for you to either get a mortgage offer or a refusal from a bank.

Once you have your offer it will be confirmed to the notaire and the contract will become unconditional. If you get a refusal from the bank and you are not therefore able to proceed to purchase then this letter must be sent with a letter of retraction from you by recorded delivery to the notaire within the period given on the contract.

The notaire will then be in a position to refund your deposit to you. If you are not intending taking out a mortgage then you will have had to write a particular paragraph within the contract to confirm this. You can see that an offer that is not subject to mortgage is more appealing to a vendor as he does not have to wait the two to three months to know if you can proceed, ie the contract is unconditional.

At this point in time you also need to make sure that your personal contribution or the full amount if you are not applying for a mortgage, is available in Euros. It is a good idea to contact some currency exchange companies as well as your own bank to see what rates they can offer. Currency companies also offer the possibility of fixing a future rate for you so that you know exactly what your property will cost and wont have any nasty surprises before completion when you find out that the rate has got worse.

It is essential to fix the rate or buy the Euros at the point that you agree the price of your property so that you don’t find that you need more Sterling than you thought to buy your Euros.

Step 4. Signing the Final Contract for your House Purchase

The next step will be signing the final contract – this usually takes two to three months depending on the speed of the Notaire, you and the vendor, but the date by which you must complete will have been agreed and entered in the first contract.

During the time between the two contracts you will be arranging your mortgage or finances and perhaps choosing or thinking about furnishing your property or getting estimates for any works that you would like. The notaire must complete local searches and obtain various reports on the property from the vendor including lead, asbestos and termite surveys.

When the notaire has everything he needs including notification that your mortgage is available he will be ready to set a completion date.

It is normal that both you and the vendor are present as well as your estate agent and, unless you are fluent in French, a translator will be necessary as the notaire must be sure that you understand everything.

It is a good idea to arrange to visit the property the day before completion to check all is as expected and to see how things work, possibly meet the owner and neighbours etc.
At the completion meeting the notaire will go through the contract and explain everything to both parties, he will provide the results of the various reports and local searches on the property, then if everyone is happy all parties at the meeting will have to sign several copies and initial what will seem like hundreds of pages. If your vendors are nice people and you have enjoyed dealing with them you might like to enjoy a glass of wine with them to celebrate – it is a good idea to be able to keep in touch with them in case you need some local knowledge or help with something in the property at future date.

Step 5. You are Now the Proud owner of Your French Property

You are now the owner of the property and normally the vendor will have vacated the property prior to the meeting and will hand over the keys to you at the end of the meeting. You will have a hundred things on your mind to deal with.

Don’t forget insurance of the property - your insurance needs to begin on the day of completion, you can often take this over from the previous owner and your agent will sort this out for you. You may want to arrange a telephone line and broadband connection and will need to visit a France Telecom shop to do so.

You will need to change the gas, electricity and water supplies into your name, however very often the vendor has already informed the utility companies of your name and they will send forms for completion. You may want them to take payment by direct debit and send the bills to your UK address and this is easily arranged.

Unless you have bought the furniture including the beds with your property, you will probably need at least another night in an hotel before you can move in. It is not a great idea to have a furniture van hovering on completion day, just in case things take a little longer than expected. But if you can arrange for deliveries the following morning you will have had time to possibly give it a clean up and decide where you are going to position things. Obviously beds are the most essential things if you want to move in, along with fridge and cooking facilities.

Don’t be too hasty in buying everything before you have time to get to know the property and decide what you really need but as soon as you have got something to sit on, it is time to sit back proudly and enjoy your new home in France.

If you would like more information on buying a property in France, please contact

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