Tips for expats searching for a dream home in France

Published:  4 Jan at 6 PM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Dealing with French property agencies doesn’t have to be stressful for newbie expats looking for their dream home.

If there’s one thing that’s absolutely certain about France, it’s that the French have their very own way of doing things which doesn't resemble the familiar British norms in any way. For expats searching for their dream home in France, it’s best to get some idea of the process before viewing. Nothing about buying a house in France will be familiar, starting with the terminology used to describe properties, including the estate agents themselves and ending with the actual properties.

Written descriptions can mean almost anything, especially if the property needs work. For example, you’ve been given a listing of various properties, most of which state a garden is included. What often isn’t mentioned is that the expected garden may be in the next road, or even the next block! If gardening is your thing, remember to request a garden ‘attached to the property’. Photos don’t help, as the beautiful garden in the shot may well belong to your next-door neighbour.

It’s essential to make sure your estate agent is clear about how much work you’re prepared to undertake as regards renovation and making good any defects. The well-known phrase ‘needs some updating’ can mean anything from modernising a kitchen and bathroom to actually installing said kitchen and bathroom as well as several walls, a roof and the all-important septic tank.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to avoid viewing absolute wrecks, however tempting their historic aspects and remote locations may seem to jaded city-dwellers. Small, ruined castles unconnected to any services may qualify as desirable residences once a large fortune has been spent, but expat life isn’t all about rescuing the real estate industry’s lame ducks.

When you’re taken to view your chosen selection of possible homes, don’t expect to find them scrubbed, tidied and showing at their best. That’s not the French way. Clutter, clothes, unmade beds, a week’s washing up and the remnants of last night’s supper are mandatory presentations for sellers, a fact which needs to be appreciated by expat buyers.

Perhaps the biggest problem in finding your chosen dream property is actually finding it in the first place. French country homes can be anything up to 30kms from the nearest town, but it’s the town’s name you’ll see on the literature. Actual addresses are never given, for the good reason that many homes remain empty until they’re sold. The hot tip as regards saving a fortune in petrol is to meet up with the agent and let him do the driving.
Like this news?

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Latest Headlines

News Links

News Archive