Guide to buying a property in France
Buying a property overseas can be a complicated process filled with currency exchanges, unfamiliar rules and laws, and perhaps difficulties with a language barrier. However, there are numerous advantages to purchasing a property overseas - like being able to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life.
France is the second most popular destination for Brits to buy a property and it’s easy to see why when you can get great value for money on property purchases, not to mention the wonderful climate and food. All this just on the UK’s doorstep too makes it no surprise that six out of ten foreigners hail from Britain.
Luckily as well, buying a property in France is very straightforward. UK residents encounter no restrictions and are free to purchase a home anywhere in France. When deciding the region you’d like your new home to be in, visit expat forums and property websites to read through people’s experiences and to form a picture of what’s out there.
Think about location, the type of property you’d like, distance to amenities and entertainment, as well as transport links, and finally decide on your budget. Make sure to leave a window in your schedule to visit the area and view properties and, perhaps most importantly, make sure you consider the fluctuations of the exchange rate to ensure you get maximum value for your money when buying the property.
Make the most of the exchange rate
If you have enough euros in France to purchase the property you’re all set. However, failing to keep up to date with exchange rates can prove to be a huge mistake. Timing is vital when purchasing a property abroad and can have a huge impact on the final price you pay for the property, either negatively or positively, it’s up to you.
Using a high street bank to make your money transfer will normally involve a spot contract - a one-off transfer based on the current market rate. However, going with specialists like Currencies Direct often save you up to five per cent of your transaction - as they offer better rates, have no transfer fees, and no hidden charges. That’s up to £5,000 of every £100,000 you transfer; which when you’re talking about the price of a house equates to massive savings. Maybe even saving you enough for that new kitchen you’d been dreaming of.
When dealing with exchange rates there are several ways you can use currency fluctuations to your advantage. Some options available to you include forward contracts - where you fix the exchange rate for purchase at a later date; limit orders - that essentially allow you to send foreign currency at a guaranteed rate of your choice; and Rate Watch - where a system monitors the markets and sends a reminder when the rate becomes available.
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When buying a property in France, you will inevitably encounter additional costs. These vary according to the age of the property, whether you require a loan to buy it, or perhaps you will encounter additional administration fees - such like stamp duty, notary fees, independent legal fees, property registration fees, potential surveys and estate agent commission.
It’s suggested to allow around seven to ten per cent of the value of the house for all fees and charges applicable, or up to three per cent if the property you’re buying is new.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking everything is over once you have moved in. The cost of upkeep in France can sometimes be higher than those in the UK. When calculating monthly and yearly costs of owning a property, you will need to factor in things like: taxes, property service charges, utilities, insurance, TV/cable/satellite, internet connection maintenance, car/transport costs, health/medical fees, and food.
Careful financial planning should be a priority to make sure no unexpected fees take you by surprise, so you can sit back and enjoy your idyllic new lifestyle.