The 5 Do’s and Dont’s of Buying Property in France

Navigating the real estate system in France is not always easy.

But, we can promise you… it is worth it!

With 18 years of real estate experience in France, here are our top five “Do’s and Dont’s” when it comes to buying your dream property in Paris, on the French Riviera or in Bordeaux…


1.) DO, do your research.

France is a big country – about double the size of the UK, and roughly the same size as Texas. Each region (called a “Departement” in France) is different from the next, and there’s no “one size fits all”. Spend some time getting to know the different regions of France until you find the one that suits your character and your needs. We chose the South of France (and Cannes in particular) for the lifestyle, the sunshine and the proximity to Nice International Airport, which is the second biggest airport in France; but your desires may differ from ours – and whatever those desires are, there will be somewhere in France that’s perfect for you.

As each area of France is so different, so are the prices and the properties available, so finding the right area first means your expectations are set from the beginning in terms of the type of property you will be able to buy for your budget; this will save you (and everyone else) a lot of time.

2.) DO use only one agent.

Find a professional agent, who you trust and like, and let them represent you. Communicate with your agent; tell them exactly what you are looking for. Give all of your trust to one person, they will respond in equal measures of trust, if not more.

Your agent knows the area you are looking in, they know the prices, they know the other agencies and if you give them the opportunity to act on your behalf I GUARANTEE you will save yourself an enormous amount of time and energy visiting properties that don’t suit your requirements with agents who don’t understand your needs.

There is no restriction in France on “co-agency” visits and collaboration between agencies. So choosing one agent who understands you and your search criteria and who will then “hold your hand” through the process, does not exclude any properties from your search which are listed with other agencies.

If an agent has 10 prospective buyers today, nine of whom are looking “with every agent in town”, and one who is loyal to a single agent, who do you think that agent will spend their time searching and prospecting for?

A final point in favour of using one agent is that you know they will be negotiating on your behalf, and working for you. It’s a win-win.

3.) DO consider a mortgage.

Even if you are a “cash” buyer… The interest rates are enticingly low, and can be fixed for up to 25 years (depending on your personal situation.)

We had UK buyers recently who did not need a mortgage for the purchase of their property in Cannes. However, we put them in touch with our preferred mortgage broker and he was able to get them a 70% loan at just under 2% over a fixed term. The money they would have used for the purchase was earning 5% invested. It’s a no brainer!

4.) DO be prepared that it will take time.

The sales process (from offer acceptance to hand over of keys) takes three months on average. This is largely due to the obligatory preemption right that each town has on the sale of each property.

5.) DO enjoy the process!

How many times do you look for a new home?

For holiday homes the average turnover time between buying and selling is 6-7 years. For primary homes, it is longer than that.

Finding your next home should be a fun and exciting process – home is where the heart is after all – so make sure to use these five “Do’s and Dont’s” to help you on your achieve your dream!



1.) DON’T worry.

If you have chosen a good agent (see Number 2 above), then s/he will guide you through the process, every step of the way. Remember, the notary is a vital part of the sales process, and s/he is there to protect you and do the due diligence to ensure that all the necessary property checks are done, and that when the property becomes yours, it is a “clean” handover without any outstanding debts. The property sales process in France is safe and highly regulated.

2.) DON’T expect the property to be 100% perfect.

Unless you are buying a new build, or renovation project, there are always a few things that might need to be done to make the property truly yours. The seller may have been living there for many years, and had the same picture on the wall for all that time. In a sunny place, sunlight will naturally affect the colour of the paintwork over the years, so once the painting is removed from the wall, you may need to repaint the living room.

At least you get to choose the colour YOU want!

3.) DON’T take your time with the necessary documentation.

The notary and the mortgage broker will need various documents from you. Be reactive. The transfer process itself can take a long time, so the more reactive and efficient you are with your paperwork, the quicker you will will get to the finish line, and be able to start enjoying your new home.

4.) DON’T worry if you don’t speak French.

In most parts of France you will find English speaking agents, and English speaking notaries. The majority of utility providers (such as electricity, water, telephone, internet etc) all now have an English speaking department too.

At the same time, it’s fun to be able to speak French (we’re in France after all), so once you’re settled in, ask your local Mairie (town hall) if they provide French lessons to foreigners. Many do, with the simple presentation of an electricity bill in your name.

5.) DON’T rule out having a managing agent

If you will not be living there year round, it will help to take a weight off of your shoulders once you go home. Knowing that there is someone on the ground who is able to take care of your property and the administration of it while you’re away gives you peace of mind that there will be no nasty surprises on your return.

Buying a property in France is a life-long dream for so many, so when it becomes your turn to start your search process, use these five “Do’s and Dont’s” to help your property search in France get underway.


Contact us directly for any of your property purchase or sale questions in the South of France.

Tel: +33 (0)4 92 59 25 93


* With over 18 years of experience, we offer an in house turn-key property solution on the French Riviera and Provence, including a full buyers search service, accompaniment through the entire purchase process, property management after purchase, and rentals. Additionally, we have established trusted partnerships with English speaking mortgage brokers, currency experts, lawyers, financial advisors, banks and more; all of whom we would be delighted to introduce you to, to facilitate your property purchase in the South of France.

We look after your property investment on the Cote d’Azur, as if it were our own, and if you want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, this is what Anthony D. had to say:  “Cinq étoiles! Five stars with no hesitation! Alice and Chris at Fine & Country could not have been more helpful as we approached signing for our new home in the sunny city of Cannes. Professional in every way, patient with our expatriate questions and always prepared to help with administrative details, the team at F&C never failed to deliver. Highly recommend their outstanding service.

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