Buying property in France: get more ‘maison’ for your money!

Planning your currency exchange is an important part of buying a property in France

Planning your currency exchange is an important part of buying a property in France - Credit: Archant

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Congratulations, you’re moving to France. You’ve found an idyllic home in the country with charming blue shutters framing the windows and vineyards rolling into the distance. Evenings on the porch with a good wine and Sundays spent pondering over strange cheeses at the local market are tantalisingly close… Or are they? Making that move can be a lot more complex than waving goodbye to the neighbours and jumping on the ferry. It can be easy to find yourself exhausted by an assault course of legal hurdles, tax pitfalls to avoid, and not to mention the language barriers that can crop up (it’s been a while since French class, right?). It’s certainly a time to plan ahead and make every penny count, so here are a few useful tips to ensure that changing your pounds into euros is one less thing to worry about…

Why worry?

In general, 2014 has seen the pound go from strength to strength against the euro. This is fabulous news for the majority of UK buyers, who are now facing the prospect of getting a lot more chateau for their cash than they would have done this time last year (GBP/EUR was at 1.19 on 1 Oct ‘13 compared to 1.28 on 1 Oct ‘14). However, it’s not wise to be too complacent. The currency market is a volatile one and reactions to economic data can see a currency losing value drastically over the course of just 24 hours. Even over the last month we’ve seen the value of the euro against the pound drop by as much as five cents, and when we’re talking about transferring enough money to purchase a house - that’s a significant loss.

Then things get even more complicated. Most of us would turn to our banks as a straightforward solution to transferring money from an account in the UK to one in France, but did you know that most banks tend to take a significant slice of your savings in the exchange process? On top of that, you could be faced with fees for the transfer itself, and then again for receiving your own money. So what’s next? Is there an alternative?

Talk to the experts

It’s time to bring in the experts. Contacting a trusted currency exchange specialist can simplify the entire process and save you a large amount of money. Here’s how:

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1. Foreign exchange providers will offer a much more competitive rate than high-street banks. You can often find savings of as much as 5% comparing rates between a foreign exchange specialist and a high-street bank, and some providers don’t charge any fees whatsoever.

2. We’ve already seen how a volatile market can eat into your money, to safeguard against this, it’s a good idea to ask for a rate watch service. This way someone else is watching the market for you and will let you know when the rates are in your favour.

3. What if the rate today is great but you’re not moving for another six months? A forward contract could be the answer – it allows you to lock in today’s rate for up to a year. You put down a deposit on the payment, and then relax, knowing exactly what the transfer will cost you when it’s time to move.

4. Don’t lose touch. It’s a good idea to keep the relationship with your foreign exchange provider going even after you’ve settled into your new home. If you’re still paying bills back in the UK or receiving payments like a pension, setting up a regular transfer plan can be a perfect way to eliminate exchange worries.

There’s no denying that there are great bargains to be had. Taking advantage of the recent strength of the pound could land you a beautiful home across the channel for a fraction of the cost of the same property in the UK. With the help of a foreign exchange broker the transition could end up being even smoother, leaving you free to relax and enjoy your new home as soon as you arrive.

To speak to an experienced currency exchange specialist you can call Currencies Direct on +44 (0) 20 7847 9400 or find out more by visiting www.currenciesdirect.com. They’ve been helping people transfer money overseas since 1996 and their friendly experts can help you get the most from your French property purchase.

Jessica Scarborough

www.currenciesdirect.com