Finding a house in France
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.
Useful Websites for French House Hunters - Where to find the information you need to support your search for property in France
- Former Water Mill for Sale
A former watermill, now renovated into a 5 bedroom house with 2 family bathrooms and 2 ensuite shower rooms. Most of the living space is at the upper ground floor level but there is also a further double bedroom, family bathroom, box/dressing room,
- Gite for sale in France, Aude, Languedoc Roussillon
Gite for sale in France, Aude, Languedoc Roussillon. A Rural Gite for Sale, South of France - A former watermill that has been renovated to provide private living accommodation for the owners and a spacious gite available to rent in the country.
- Travel Advice for france
Advice on Air Travel, Car Travel and Rail Travel including, flights, airlines, ferry bookings, stop over hotels, car hire and much more.
- Estate Agency for Houses in France
English speaking UK estate agent with comprehensive property listing of houses for sale in France
- French Property News
A whole range of topics relating to life in France, with property guides, legal advice, breaking news and classified ads.
- First steps to Moving to France
This module is the first in the series and questions why you would like to move to France and then gives guidance on the process of finding the right region to live in.
- Financial advice in English for Exapts living or moving to France
Free financial advice in English for expats living or moving to France. Life Assurance, Pensions, Investments, Mortgages, Insurance,
- French Property
For property in France
- Euro Traveller UK to Europe
Euro Traveller offers general travel advice for Europe, including cheap flights to Europe, ferrys to France, rail travel and bus travel for Europe
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.
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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.
- A day out in Toulouse
A day out in Toulouse to discover the city center, the Victor Hugo food market, the Donjon du Capitole and the Canal du Midi via the Garonne river.
- A day out in Carcassonne
A day out in Carcassonne via St Papoul, Saissac and coming back via Bram and Castelnaudary. Start point is Issel.
- A day out in the Corbieres wine region
An excellent way to visit and explore the Corbieres wine region of France is to drive from Carcassonne to Narbonne via Lagrasse. Includes one of the best wine tasting venues available at Portel de Corbieres called the Terra Vinea: Languedoc's Wine-T
- Places to Visit in France
Living in the South of France as an expat means that every now and then we need to get back to the UK to visit friends and family. There are obviously options on how you can get back to the UK.
- Euro Traveller Holiday Destinations - France
Euro Traveller offers holiday destinations in Europe. This page provides information on France with suggestions on some great places to visit in France
- French History Books - The Lauragais Story | eBookIssues.com
This story of the Lauragais, a region steeped in history, has been loving researched and detailed to produce one of the best French History Books of the region.
- The Carcassonne Affair - Expat Living With Unwelcome Complications
A move to a new country and a new life in France suddenly became very complicated for all the wrong reasons. A fictitious novel with potentially serious repercussions.
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.