Buying a property in France in 2022

Buying a property in France in 2022

A step-by-step guide to making the property buying process in France the breathtaking romance it should be.

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Buying a property in Paris is a love affair. A housing romance in the city of lights can be breathtaking. But you need to know what you’re doing. You want to be swept off your feet with a new home, and French bureaucracy can be a romance-killer.

 

In this article, we’ll dive into what you need to know about your French property purchase. Consider us your dating coach, taking you through the purchase process from the pre-date jitters of the search to making an offer to settling down. 

Ready to fall in love with French bureaucracy? Here’s what we will cover:

 

Finding your perfect property – the search for ‘the one’

Placing an offer – making the first move

The formal purchase process – from contracts to getting the keys

Finding your perfect property - the search for the 'one'

When foreigners are moving to France and searching for a property, they’ll head online, become slightly overwhelmed and then turn to an agent immobilier, France’s equivalent of estate agents. 

 

An agent immobilier is like a matchmaker. They help you figure out what kind of property is a perfect fit for you. Then, they search through the real estate equivalent of Tinder, Hinge, and all the other dating apps out there, including the ones the public doesn’t have access to, to come up with a dating schedule of apartment viewings. 

 

 

An agent immobilier is helpful because they know what to look for and what you haven’t anticipated about life in France. Importantly, they also ensure that you don’t become infatuated with the beautiful but completely impractical home in France — a feeling that transcends dating and apartment buying! 

A mini-guide to finding the apartment that's right for you

choose your area in paris

Choose 3 neighborhoods that you think you’ll love. Spend a day in each of these arrondissements or watch some videos on YouTube. What did you love about them? Where could you imagine yourself spending time? What didn’t you like so much? Relay this information to your agent immobilier, which will help them understand what lights your fire. (Just make sure you take a look at apartment prices to see that they are areas you can afford) 

Write down what you need

Write down what your must-haves and nice-to-haves are in an area. We worked with a client recently who realized during lockdown that being close to a park was very important. That went on the must-haves list, and she’s now all the happier for it. What are the practical things — do you need to be near a school or workplace? Paris is planning to become a 15-minute city where everything you need is no more than a 15-minute cycle or walk (more info below).

Prepare for the time it takes

A typical search will take around 2 weeks, provided you’re relatively available for in-person or digital viewings. The offer process will also take 2-4 months from the very start until the move in date, so bear that in mind. 

Know what to look for

There are a few things to look out for in Parisian apartments, many of which are the 19th Century Haussmann-style. Digging into the storage space, understanding the building’s communal amenities and charges, the noise level, and usability. We had one client start to be won over by a new building with a small balcony. When we looked properly, we noticed it wasn’t functional with small children.

Placing an offer - making the first move

Once you’ve completed the property search and found the property you’re interested in, placing an offer is very simple in France because the price is a ‘what you see is what you get’ situation. 

 

 

The seller must list the price they would like to receive for the property, and they cannot accept more than this asking price. So you can underbid, but you can’t overbid. This prevents bidding wars that spiral out of control, but it also means you need to be quick so that the good ones don’t get away on you. (This is why it pays to have someone who knows the market)

 

 

Expect the first part of accepting the offer to take a matter of days. If the offer is right, it will be accepted, and the dating process begins!

The formal process - contracts and inspections

The formal process after an offer is made is the major difference between buying a property in France and somewhere like the United States or United Kingdom.

 

 

You can look at this as the part of the dating process where you start to go steady and eventually get engaged. This will generally take a few months in France because it’s the time when *everything* happens. The house is formally checked in a few different ways, contracts are negotiated and re-negotiated, and finally, the final contract, the marriage between buyer and seller, is ready to take place.

 

Let’s break it down into its step-by-step process:

1. Hire the notary

In France, the notary, the notaire, is one of the most important people in the property buying process. They are an impartial party who check all the documents, help negotiate the contract, and guide the entire process, including the funds transfer. They will charge ‘notaire’s fees’, between 5% and 8% of the total property sale. The seller and the buyer can agree on a single notary together, or you can have one each.

2. First contractual agreement - Compromis de vent

The notaire will help the buyer and seller create a compromis de vent. This essentially says, yes, we are engaged, but we need to check a few things and fine-tune the details before the marriage occurs. 

 

 

At this stage of the process, the seller is also required to submit documentation about the ‘health’ of the property, completed by a professional inspector. The notaire checks these. This allows the contractual process to be entered into with ‘eyes wide open’ as opposed to inspecting the property further down the track.

3. The notaire's Verification process

The notaire will verify certain requirements, including:

  • checking the land register to ensure that it the property is able to be sold
  • that the seller holds the rights to sell the property
  • that there are no mortgages or other legal restrictions on the property
  • that noone is living there
  • prepares the mortgage deed with the bank (if there is one)


The verification process has recently become quicker and easier and it currently takes about a month for the notaire to complete in Paris.

4. Fine-tuning the Contractual details

The contract will be adjusted based on anything that came up during the verification process. The buyer also prepares the deposit to purchase and there is a 10-day cooling off period for the buyer. This is to make sure that noone gets cold feet *after* the big sale. 

 

It’s extremely rare for buyer or seller to get cold feet. Usually, at this stage of the process, about 2 months in, both parties feel confident about their decision.

5. Final purchase-sale contract - acte de vente

Also referred to as the Authentique de vente or the Acte authentique, this is the marriage license of the property world — the final contract that includes all of the administrative checks and any changes. 

 

This is usually 2-3 months after the first contract, the compromis de vent. 

 

The deed is read aloud and signed by all parties on the same day,. The buyer’s funds are transferred into the escrow account of the notaire and the seller will receive these a few weeks later.

6. Get insurance

You can now apply for homeowner’s insurance. This will generally be a multi-risk policy that covers damage to the building as a whole, contents, and public liability (damages to third-party property).

6. Get the keys!

What started out as a fleeting romance is now official, you have the keys and you need to inspect the property (mainly to check that noone is living there as structural checks have already been carried out.)

Enjoy the romance that is the city of lights

Now, it’s time to settle in and fully enjoy the magic of owning a property in Paris. Paris is the kind of city that can be as relaxing or exciting as you’d like — strolls to the many farmers’ markets in amongst the exceptional architecture; fresh, warm baguettes on weekend mornings; slow dining with family and friends; as well as the endless possibilities of exhibitions and nightlife.

 

Paris is also a love that is worth investing in. Constantly reinventing itself, Paris is leading the world in progressive urbanism. Locals and city officials alike push to see vibrant urban projects come to life, such as public arts installations, co-working spaces, new pedestrian spaces, community gardens and vertical farms.

Paris is also on its way to being a 15-minute city. Their vision is for a city in which everyone has access to everything they need without having to commute every day or be stuck in an area with very little access to fresh food or schools.

 

This makes buying a property in Paris a resilient investment, both financially but also as the climate changes and we require more resilience to be built into our cities, such as food, energy, and cooling. 

 

 

Buying a property in Paris is investing in a love that will never stagnate — it is constantly developing and improving itself while retaining all of the wonder and magic that sweeps us off our feet in the first place.

 

 

Contact us

If you’re interested in buying a property in France, send us an email and we can start you on your way to finding the

 

Email us at info@lunerealty.com.

Paris apartment at dusk with Lune Realty logo in the bottom right corner