CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

10 insider tips for successful househunting

PUBLISHED: 16:13 23 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:23 29 June 2016

Tips for successful househunting © Cinzia8 / Dreamstime

Tips for successful househunting © Cinzia8 / Dreamstime


Planning a househunting trip to France? Follow these 10 insider tips to make sure everything goes smoothing and you find your dream French property

1. Set your budget

This may sound like an obvious thing to decide but a surprising number of househunters have a wavering budget, particularly when looking for holiday homes abroad. Often they’ll look first to see what’s available. If possible, go with a fixed idea of how much you have to spend, perhaps with an upper limit you’re willing to stretch to if you find your dream home. Don’t forget to factor in buying costs (notaire and agency fees) as these amount to around 10% of the asking price.

2. Narrow down your property search area

France is a large country with each region covering a huge area, especially now some have merged as a result of the new administrative borders. Don’t underestimate how long it can take to travel around rural areas, where roads are often narrow and winding. If you can pinpoint a particular area you will find it much easier to view properties.

Read more: How to start a property search in France

How to decide where to buy in France

3. Make some decisions about the type of property you want/need

Think carefully about the size of property you want (and need), whether you want outdoor space, whether only old or new will do or whether you’re willing to consider all ages of property, and how close you want to be to neighbours, shops, restaurants and other facilities and amenities. Also decide which features you would be willing to compromise on and which are set in stone.

What type of French property do you want to buy?

4.Write a wishlist

This is a great exercise; by doing so you can narrow down what is absolutely essential and what would be desirable. Grade your wishlist and make sure you take it with you on viewings so you can tick things off and add comments.

5. Make sure you get the most out of your estate agent

Your agent should be your best friend when viewing properties. Not only can they advise you on the property itself, they’re usually a font of knowledge on the area and buying process. Be honest with them; let them know if a property you’re viewing doesn’t suit you, and likewise, make sure they realise when you’re serious about a property. Although they work for the seller, they can usually advise on the price that the vendor will accept. Note that agents usually need advance warning of your visit in order to arrange viewings and they will usually accompany you on these.

6. Get your finances in place

Ensure your finances are in place before you start viewing properties, and then if you’re lucky enough to find ‘the one’, you can make an offer straight away. It also indicates to the vendor that you are a serious buyer and they will thus be more likely to accept your offer. That said, even if you do sign the sales contract (compromis de vente), there is a ‘get-out- clause that states that if you are unable to obtain a mortgage, the contract is rendered null and void.

What are the differences between French and UK mortgages?

7. Don’t try to do too much on a property viewing trip

It can be easy to underestimate the time it takes to travel around an area so don’t try and fit in too many viewings in too short a time. Not only will it be stressful, but you’ll be unlikely to properly take in all the details and information about each property, and you’ll miss out on the opportunity to explore the area.

8. Look beyond the property

Take time to explore beyond the property too. Take a stroll into the village or town centre, drive around the immediate countryside, chat to your potential neighbours and locals, and find out what there is to do.

9. Visit the area at different times

Ideally you should visit at different times of the year, as a typical French village or seaside resort can offer varying experiences in summer and winter. At the very least it is a good idea to visit on a weekday and weekend, for example, or at a quiet time of day and rush hour (if there is one!).

10. Take a camera and notepad

This is especially important if you’re visiting several properties as they tend to merge together! Take plenty of photos and notes, including pros and cons for each property and anything to research later.

Like this? Don’t miss:

Why should I buy a property in France?

12 things you should know about buying a French property

Buying in France: the process explained


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from French Property

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Don’t get caught out – it’s as important to understand your legal obligations when selling a property in France as it is when buying one

Read more
Buying guides
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ruth Wood looks at the French property hotspots where British buyers search for their dream home

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Seen a bargain French property that just needs a bit of work to turn it into a dream home? If your heart is set on a renovation project, do your sums first, advises architect Nick Adams

Read more
New-build property in France
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A new apartment development is available for investment in the Alpine expat haven of Annecy in Haute-Savoie

Read more
French Alps
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why your trusty high-street bank might not be the place when it comes to getting the best currency deal

Read more
Buying guides
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Don’t be bamboozled by strange foreign exchange terms – this handy currency transfer jargon buster explains all!

Read more
Buying guides
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Is a ‘notary public’ in the UK the same as a ‘notaire’ in France?

Read more
Buying guides
Monday, July 23, 2018

Dealing with a loved one dying is difficult in any circumstances, let alone in a different country. To simplify the process as much as possible, here are the administrative procedures and legalities you need to know about when dealing with a death in France

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

With income tax soon to be deducted at source in France, how might this affect you?

Read more
Working in France
Friday, August 24, 2018

Find out how the new flat tax of 30% on income from financial investments works in France

Read more
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now