Buying property in France

Our guide on purchasing property in France covers everything you need to know, whether you’re moving abroad, making an investment, or buying a holiday home.

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Thinking of purchasing a French property?

France offers a huge variety of properties for purchase, whether you’re dreaming of a rustic stone farmhouse in the Brittany countryside or a terracotta-tiled villa in the sun-baked southern provinces.

Whatever you’re after, buying property in France is a little different to buying in the UK. It’s good to understand the process and be aware of any costs and fees so you can account for them in your budget.

It’s also important that you secure a strong exchange rate when you’re transferring money overseas, whether that’s to fund the property purchase, pay a French mortgage, or cover utility costs once the sale has gone through.

The process of buying a property in France.

If you’re considering buying a property in France, here’s an overview of the buying process to give you an idea of what to expect.

Budget and finance

Start off with a budget, including things like taxes and travel costs. You may also want to secure a mortgage offer in principle and consider your currency transfer needs.

Property search

Find your dream property. You can search websites, contact estate agents, or get in touch with a notaire in your area of choice.

Make an offer

It’s best to make an offer in writing and get the seller to countersign to create a legal agreement. Have your notaire or lawyer check the offer first.

Sign the pre-sale contract

Next you’ll sign the pre-sale contract and pay a deposit of up to 10%. You then have a ten-day cooling off period when you can withdraw from the sale without penalty.

Carry out searches

The notaire will then carry out all the relevant searches. Meanwhile, make sure your documentation and finances are in order.

Complete the sale

Finally, it’s time to sign the completion deed at the notaire’s office and transfer ownership of the property into your name.

Best places to buy property in France.

Whether you want a quiet cottage in the French countryside or high rental returns in a popular holiday hotspot, France has something to offer everyone.



The French capital can be expensive, but properties also bring a higher rental yield. If you’re looking for somewhere to live, consider the Parisian suburbs.



Beloved by British holidaymakers and expats, Dordogne offers beautiful countryside, rich cultural heritage, and relatively affordable properties.



Just across the Channel from southwest England, Brittany’s cheap property prices and close proximity to the UK make it an attractive option for British buyers.



The lively cultural scene and many top-rated universities and schools make Montpellier popular for tourists, expats and students.



This vibrant city has a strong expat community, while a steady appreciation in property value also makes it an attractive investment.



Despite being the largest city in the French Riviera, it’s also one of the most affordable. And the international airport provides good travel links.


Save money on currency transfers when buying a property in France.

When you’re transferring money overseas, it’s important that you get a strong exchange rate. At Currencies Direct, we offer highly competitive rates so you could get more than if you transferred using a bank.

We’re also experts in helping you time your transfer for when the market is in your favour.

As a Currencies Direct customer, you’ll have your own personal account manager providing you with specialist insights. They can help you choose from our range of transfer options to find the best solution for you.


Simplifying the buying process.

If you’re buying a property in France, you probably already have a lot on your plate. Thankfully, we can ease some of the stress by helping to simplify your overseas payments.

While your account manager is always on hand to offer expert guidance if you need them, you can also easily track transfers and send money 24/7 through your online account or with our app.

Our services also take the hassle out of international transfers. You can hold currency on account, allowing you to speed up deposit payments, and you can automate regular transfers for things like a mortgage or bills.

Create a Currencies Direct account.

Thinking about buying property abroad? Create a free Currencies Direct account in minutes. You can then start sending money overseas or talk through your transfer needs with a friendly currency expert.

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The costs of buying a property in France.

Along with the price of the property itself, it’s important that you factor in any fees, taxes or additional charges you’re likely to encounter when buying in France.


New French properties incur VAT at 20%, but properties listed as toutes taxes comprises, or TTC, have VAT included in the price. You’ll also pay stamp duty, which is 0.7% for new builds and from 5.09% to 5.8% for resale properties.


Estate agents charge around 5% to 8% commission. This is often included in the listed price (described as frais d’agence inclus or FAI). Notaire fees range from 0.814% to 3.945%, though these may be higher if they helped with your search or negotiations.

Currency exchange

Another key cost to consider is currency exchange. It’s crucial you get a strong exchange rate, as a weaker rate can eat away at your funds. The sooner you get in touch with Currencies Direct, the easier it is to secure the best possible exchange rate.

Ongoing costs

In addition to shipping costs or new purchases to furnish the property, you’ll likely have ongoing bills, mortgage payments and other expenses to cover. There’s also an annual land tax, which averages around 1%, and a housing tax that applies to second homes.

Finding a property in France

There are three main ways to find property in France. You can connect with private sellers, use an estate agent, or contact a notaire.

Private sellers

If you’re happy to put in extra work to cut costs, searching for French property yourself is a good option. There are plenty of websites and property portals online for you to browse.

Estate agents

Estate agents can simplify the process, provide you with more properties, and potentially get you a better deal, although they tend to charge between 5% and 8%.


Notaires are public officials who oversee property sales in France, but they can also offer guidance. However, they charge similar fees to estate agents in addition to a 5% to 6% negotiation fee.


Moving to France post-Brexit.

If you’re planning on moving to France now that the UK has left the EU, you’ll need to apply for a residency permit or French nationality.

There are many different French residency permits (known as carte de sejour), depending on how long you’re staying and whether you’re a student, a retiree, employed, self-employed, or related to a French national.

You can also apply for a long-stay visa, which typically allows you to stay in France for up to a year.

Without a visa or residency permit, the 90-day rule applies. You can only stay in France (or any other Schengen Area country) for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.

Moving into your French property.

After you’ve bought your dream property in France, you’ll need to prepare for the move. Here are some of the key considerations.


Get all the required documentation to hand, including things like your passport, utility bills showing your residency, or any other evidence.


Decide how you’re going to transport your possessions and book in advance. You may also need to give a detailed inventory of any goods you’re bringing in.


If you’re bringing a pet with you they’ll need to be microchipped and vaccinated, and you’ll need a health certificate from a vet to prove it.


Make sure you have healthcare cover. You may need a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or an S1 form, depending on your situation.


It’s best to get the utilities connected before you move in. Usually your estate agent can help with this, otherwise you can often do it yourself online.


Your financial and tax arrangements might change once you move, and you may need to transfer money to or from France, so it’s best to plan ahead.


Seamless spending with our multi-currency card.

Once you’re in France, whether you’re there for one week or one year, you’ll need a way to cover everyday living costs. That’s where our multi-currency debit card comes in.

You can top up your EUR and GBP wallets and spend directly from them in France and the UK. You can also use the card wherever Mastercard is accepted, and we’ll convert the currency for you automatically.

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Selling a property in France.

There may come a time when you decide to sell your French property, perhaps to move somewhere else in the country or return to the UK. Here’s a short list of the key stages when selling a property in France.

Prepare for the market

Prepare the property as best you can for the sales market. Spring is a good time to work towards, as buyers seek new beginnings amid the change in seasons.

List your property

Using an estate agent can take a lot of the hassle out of selling a property, although you may also want to advertise online or with local notaires.

Carry out surveys

You’ll need to carry out compulsory surveys and checks when selling a property, known as the dossier de diagnostic technique (DDT).

Choose a notaire

The notaire oversees the property sale, working for both buyer and seller. You may also choose to appoint your own solicitor.

Sign the sales contract

When you accept an offer, your notaire will draw up a contract of sale (compromis de vente). You and the buyer will sign, and they’ll pay the deposit.

Complete the sale

The last step is to sign the acte de vente at the notaire’s office and hand over the keys. Your notaire will issue an attestation and arrange for you to be paid.

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Frequently asked questions about buying a property in France.

The amount of tax depends on the type of property and its location. Newer builds are subject to 20% VAT, although this may be included in the price of the property already (toutes taxes comprises, or TTC).

New builds also require stamp duty (droit de mutation) of 0.7%, while stamp duty for older properties ranges from 5.09% to 5.8%.

There are also the ongoing land tax (taxe foncière) and housing tax (taxe d’habitation). The former varies, but is usually around 1% of the property’s sale price; the latter only applies to second homes.

Unless you’re getting a mortgage from a French bank, you don’t necessarily need a French bank account when buying a property in France. However, if you’re living in France for an extended period of time then it may be a good idea to get a bank account.

It’s worth noting that many French banks will not allow an overseas resident to open an account until they have a physical tie to France, such as having signed your sales contract or having a rental agreement in place.

Yes, you can get a French mortgage as a foreigner, but as a non-EU national you may only be able to borrow 50% of the property value.

In addition, French lenders can’t offer you a mortgage if your financial liabilities exceed 30% of your net household income. If you’re over 65, they won’t take earned income into account, only pension payments or other passive income, such as rental income.

It tends to take around three months to buy a property in France, from the moment you make an offer to the day the sale is complete. However, it can take longer than this, particularly if you’re getting finance for the purchase.

There are no legal restrictions on foreigners buying property in France. As long as you have the funds or financing in place, you’re free to purchase property.

The GBP/EUR exchange rate is always moving, so the rate you get when transferring money to France will depend on when you make the transfer and who you transfer with.

We can monitor the market for you and help you time your transfer to get a strong exchange rate. Just get in touch if you want to find out more.

The biggest risk when it comes to currency exchange is that the exchange rate will weaken when you’re ready to make a transfer.

One way to minimise this is by planning ahead and keeping an eye on the currency market. As a Currencies Direct customer, you can get help from your personal account manager with this.

You can also use different transfer types to minimise risk. For example, a forward contract allows you to secure a favourable exchange rate up to a year ahead of making a transfer.

Yes, you can set up automated regular payments to go out every month or quarter. You can even combine a forward contract with a regular payment, giving you the certainty of getting the same exchange rate for each transaction.