Guide to buying property in France
Simple but sophisticated, proudly traditional yet undeniably contemporary, tranquil and bustling, France is a country of contrasts that has something for everyone. With its breathtaking mountains, sunlit vineyards, miles of sun-baked beaches, sleepy villages and vibrant cities, it’s easy to see why it’s the most visited country in the world, according to figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The diverse landscape and distinctiveness of its 22 regions characterised by their unique style and customs, combined with an equally varied climate, create an alluring mix. Altogether they make France one of the most popular countries for a home abroad. The country, in fact, accounts for around a third of the enquiries we receive from people looking to buy overseas property.
When you compare the cost of a home abroad with overheated parts of the UK market, there are plenty of buyers who are willing to explore overseas opportunities in their search for better investment potential. And France is no exception. Bargain prices and historically low mortgage rates are making it more affordable than ever to snap up a property across the Channel, but the biggest boost to buyers’ budgets has been the steadily increasing value of the pound against the euro, which is effectively shedding tens of thousands of pounds off prices.
Prices, in general, are more affordable than in the UK, with plenty to choose from within a budget. According to Notaires de France, the national average house price in France is €159,000 compared with £189,000 (or €246,656) in the UK*. Like anywhere else, however, there are wide regional variations, with average prices ranging from €105,000 in Limousin to €290,000 in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
A slower property market has been pushing French prices down over recent years, and under recent market conditions, people have been keener to sell and therefore more likely to be receptive to offers lower than the asking price.
French mortgage rates are still at their lowest in decades. And unlike many countries where the best rates are limited to those with the biggest deposits, both of these deals, and many others, are available for mortgages of up to 80% loan-to-value.
France pretty much ticks all the boxes for overseas investment – affordable property, low mortgage rates, easy access from the UK, a familiar culture and good rental yields to name a few. With a defiantly dynamic property market, it also represents relative stability amid the recent economic downturn.
As always, however, it’s imperative to do your homework and to take professional advice before committing to anything, and you should always go through the same process that you would follow if you were buying a property in the UK. Don’t be tempted to cut corners.
Clare Nessling is director of Conti, the overseas mortgage specialist