holiday France

How to buy a holiday home in France


Buying a property in France is all about changing your lifestyle and making the right choices – this article will guide you through those choices and ensure your search is successful.

Choosing an area:

  • France is the most visited country in the world – 85m people visited last year
  • It shares a border (and cultural influences) with eight other countries
  • France is the largest country in Western Europe with a mainland area of over 550,000 km2
  • Mainland France is made up of 13 different regions, which are then broken down further into 96 departments

Choice of property, choice of location, choice of area – these are exciting factors that come into play when you are looking for your dream home. It can help to make a checklist to keep your feet on the ground and your choices sound. Heart and head can work together and practical considerations will help make your dream come true.

Do you want to be surrounded by friendly neighbours or in the middle of rural peace and quiet? You are never very far from a boulangerie over here, but how important is access to local services and amenities. Do you need to travel back frequently to the UK? If so, remember that the TGV may be a cost-effective alternative to flying.

How much do you want to pay?

It always helps to have your finance in place before you travel out for viewings, that way you will be in a strong position to negotiate a good deal.  French mortgages are available to purchasers from the UK, with interest rates at a record low but lending restrictions have tightened since Brexit. We have sourced an independent mortgage broker who specialises in this area, contact us for details.

Our sister company, Leggett Immobilier, sold 2,464 properties in France last year, to buyers from 36 different countries. They should be the first place you look.

Make a list of ‘must haves’

It always helps to write things down.  We recommend that you have three columns:

  • must have (ie number of bedrooms, view, access to commerce)
  • nice to have (ie barns, extra bedroom, mature garden)
  • absolutely not (ie busy road, low ceilings, renovations)

What kind of home do you want? Consider the number of bedrooms you need and how much land you want. Is this a permanent move or do you want to find a holiday home? Do you want a character stone farmhouse, logis, maison de maitre or easy to maintain pavillon? Do you want to take on a renovation project or merely lift a paintbrush in your new home?

Do you want to run a business? Gites and chambes d’hotes are favourite business opportunities, but there are others. How about re-opening a café in a small village or running a restaurant? If you want to run gites or chambres d’hotes remember that income is seasonal and not guaranteed.

How much do you want to pay? We all have budgets to suit our own circumstances and want to find a dream home without breaking the bank! 

When looking at the cost of buying a house in France, remember there are three main elements to a house price – net vendeur, agent’s commission and notaire’s fee.  Make sure that the agents fees are covered in your offer price, then budget approximately 6-7% for Notaire’s fees on top.

Start your search online

Other agencies are available.  Be aware though that they will not usually give you the exact address of the property until you establish a relationship with the agent and have their trust.  This is because many domestic buyers try to go direct to the vendor and cut the agent out of the process.

A final word of warning.  When creating a viewing itinerary do remember that France is a huge country and rural roads can be slow.  Allow plenty of time to get between properties and don’t try and bite too much off in one day.  If you are going to miss an appointment or be late then do also show some courtesy and call the agent to warn them.

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