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Finding a house in France

Updated on June 20, 2016

Your Perfect French Home

Welcome, this is the 2nd in a series of lenses written to help you find and buy a house in France in the right region at the right price and suited to meeting your requirements whatever they may be. You can find the related lenses at the bottom of the page in the featured lenses section.

French houses come in all shapes and sizes, this lens is intended to help you decide exactly what you want and how to go about getting it.

By the way if you like the idea of creating your own single page website like this then all you have to do is click on I want to make my own Hub

An Idyllic French Home

Your essential checklist for your new home

You need to define exactly what you want before you start looking

So far we have discussed whether you really want to move to France and the issues you need to consider when trying to find the right region in France for you and your family.

The next step is about finding the right house, it's only really about applying a bit of common sense and organizing your thoughts to define exactly what it is you are looking for.

You may have noticed that I put a lot of check lists together, there is a good reason for that, first of all in referring to or making a checklist you actually have to think about what you need to include, secondly once you have your checklist you can compare it to the property you have found when you think it is the house of your dreams.

Actually it may be the house of your dreams but you need to know if it will fulfill its intended purpose , comparing it to your checklist will establish that and if it doesn't tick all the boxes then you at least know where you need to compromise.

As an aside, you also need to be keeping a very close eye on the exchange rate at this stage and if you haven't already you should be getting a French bank account sorted out. Barclays France offer an English support service for people opening an account with them in France and when you visit their website you can view it in English or French.

I mentioned the Euro exchange rate in a previous lens but it can't be stressed too much how important this is, not paying attention to the exchange rate could cost you a lot of money. Also given the way the exchange rate has gone these days it may be worth thinking about financing any purchase through a French mortgage, that way you will borrow Euros and be less susceptible to the exchange rate and you can always look at swapping back to pounds or paying the loan off when things are more favorable. I would take the advice of a financial adviser first though, just to be on the safe side.

I can help you with a basic list to consider but you will need to take the list and make it fit to your requirements. What you are doing is specifying your exact requirements so try to make sure you include what is important to you.

Checklist for Buying Property in France

  • Is the property going to be used for a business
  • How many bedrooms for you and your family
  • How many reception roooms, bathrooms, kitchens do you need
  • How much outside space do you want/need
  • Is there a pool or can you build one
  • Are views important
  • How private/overlooked is the property
  • What rooms/buildings/storage space do you need for business
  • Is there scope to expand if necessary
  • How much renovation is required (watch out for "monuments historiques" listed buildings)
  • How much parking do you need
  • Country or town
  • Nearest shops/restaurants/bars for a car or to walk
  • Are the towns busy all year
  • Can you access people to look after the property when you are not there
  • Do you want pets or animals
  • Want to grow your own vegetables
  • Are there known problems, reason for sale
  • What is your budget for purchase and renovation
  • Are the neighbors friendly or has there been disputes

Don't forget you are the one that knows what you want better than anyone else, use this checklist but make sure you add your important items or features to make it as comprehensive as possible.

Also bear in mind that it is possible to arrange the complete renovation of an older building using companies that specialise in complete projects. You can hand over all aspects of the build to be project managed on your behalf or even have a new house built from the ground up.

Finding your French property

Once you have your list you are armed with the tools you need to start your search and clearly the best way to view a property is to physically visit it and take a look. That way you can get a really good feel about whether the property is going to be right for you and your family and is in the right location.

The practicalities are however that you probably haven't got the time or finances to go and physically look at hundreds of houses so you need an alternative method to help you create a shortlist of properties you are really interested in.

Quintessential French Windows and Blue Shutters

Shabby Chic in True French Style

There are loads of websites on the internet that market property abroad and these are a good starting point for your search. I personally liked to look for houses using rightmove.co.uk

Another good source of information is the French Property News magazine which you can find online at French Property News

It is a hard slog but it is probably the only way you can get a shortlist of potential properties that meet your criteria, during the process of your search one of your objectives should be to establish contact with some agents based in France in your regions of interest. Try and build up a rapport with the agents you find, you can tell them exactly what you are looking for,when you expect to be able to visit to have a look at properties and when you are planning to move to France i.e. when you need to complete the purchase by. If they are any good they will listen to what you are asking for and send you further properties to meet your requirements.

Have Shortlist Will Travel

The only way to be sure a house is right for you is a personal viewing

Once you have your shortlist of properties in the regions of interest you need to plan your trip, and you need to be realistic about what you can achieve in the period you have set aside, depending on distance apart you should really only be thinking of about 4 or 5 properties a day maximum, less if there is any distance involved.

Contact the agents that are selling the houses you are interested in so that you can plan a day to spend with them to view properties. Give them plenty of notice and don't let them down because if you do and you need to go back to them they may not be so helpful.

Try and arrange the viewings (with the help of the agents) so that you are looking at groups of houses in the same area. This will cut down on your traveling and allow you to view more properties. Also don't forget to allow time for lunch, this is a very important part of French life and you may find that everything stops for an hour or two at lunchtime.

If you need somewhere to stay, especially in the low season, you can ask the agents if they can recommend somewhere that will put you up. If you are looking in Languedoc-Rousillion region you can always try the following

well you have to try don't you!!!

A couple of other things to think about, firstly once you are there and you find the house of your dreams, remember a written offer such as an 'Offre d'Achat' is legally binding and may not be in your best interests. If you can it would be a very good idea to have access to a bi-lingual solicitor who is completely familiar with French property law and represents you, that way if you want to make an offer you can contact him/her quickly with a copy of the offer and make sure everything is in order so you are protected before proceeding.

Many bi-lingual solicitors advertise in French Property News

To be honest you really shouldn't sign anything before taking legal advice from your own solicitor or at least the notaire involved, remember as nice as they are estate agents are there to sell you the property and first and foremost represent the interests of the seller. That said they are a very good source of information and will usually try to be as helpful as possible.

Secondly, remember you are not just buying a house, you are buying into a region, a new culture, a society into which you would like to integrate and a support structure for being able to live your life. What I am saying is it might be the house of your dreams but is it in the right place, so take some time to check out the area before you commit, try and talk to the neighbors and visit at different times of the day and on different days if possible . Easier said than done in a very tight schedule but it might just save you a lot of grief.

Buying a House in France - Help me to help you with a bit of feedback

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For a flavour of France in our region

To give you a flavor of the region where we live I have included a couple of day out websites for your information.

Books and Facts About France - A few facts and a bit of fiction

A mix of fictional and non-fictional books about France.

One or two sites of Interest

Many people buying a property in France are often looking to set up their own business or perhaps offer their services as a tradesman. One of the best ways of marketing that business or service is to do it via the world wide web. For many this is not a trivial task, so if you would like help registering a domain name, designing a website and publishing it on the Internet then get in touch with Web Design France for an affordable website design that will help you market your business using 21st century advertising.

Take a Holiday to Check out the Region of Choice

I am constantly reviewing and updating my lenses, let me know how I am doing

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    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      absolutely fantastic

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I think this lens is really good and have also looked at some of your other lenses, really useful information and very helpful.

    • profile image

      bobzbazzar 8 years ago

      Good lens well laid out and informative.

    • YourCover Mama profile image

      YourCover Mama 8 years ago

      Keep it up! I have never been to Europe, and can never afford a home over there, but you are seriously making me consider become broke!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Love the pictures. Great lens.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 8 years ago from Canada

      Love good info here and great lens *****!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Good information for people who are planning to settle in France. I love the scenery and the beautiful surroundings of France and its culture.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Oui, Oui, Oui! Merci! Great job!

    • anka05 profile image

      anka05 4 years ago

      I'd like to live in France, especially in the country side. I saw some beautiful places there...

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @anka05: I live in the countryside and it is beautiful ;-)

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