Legal Eligibility for Buying Property in France
As with everything else related to properties in France, the first thing to ask is: are you legally allowed to do it? In this sense, are you permitted to buy property in France? What makes you eligible for such? Well, the simple answer to this is that you have to be a citizen or a resident of the country. That's it! If you're not recognized as either one by the state, there's no way you could ever legally buy property in France.
Be Wise About Your Budget
If you're already planning to buy property in France, have a budget in mind. Set a price that you're willing to pay and stick by it no matter what. Firstly, you'll need to find properties that are within your budget anyways so already doing so is wise. Secondly, more often than not, you still get a say on the final price you pay for a property that you're interested in. It's part of the buying/selling property process, wherever you may be!
Hire an Estate Agent
It may seem like a hassle and an extra person to pay but hiring an estate agent will be extremely helpful in this situation. If you're having trouble choosing a property to buy to begin with, your agent can help you narrow down your choices. Even if you don't have any idea at all of what property to purchase, your agent can help you look for one that's within the area you're interested in, within your proposed budget, and fits your needs.
Appoint Your Own Notaire
In the same vein, you should also appoint a notaire. Most especially if you're making the purchase from outside of France. Simply put, your notaire will take care of the legal side of things. From the paperwork you'll need to fill out to the taxes you'll need to pay, your notaire will make the process simpler and easier for you. All you have to do is sign and pay, that's basically it.
See the Property for Yourself
This might go without saying, but for those buying a property in France from outside of the country, this is an important step to remember. Before finalizing any deal, before paying off any amount, you have to see the property in person at least twice. You may think that once is enough, but unless you have a photographic memory, you'll need to see it again to be 100% sure. Remember that there are thousands—possible millions—of bucks on the line. Don't waste them by not being sure because you weren't able to see the property for yourself.
Always Have Everything Written
For as much as you can, ensure that any agreement you have with the person selling the property will be written down. Ask your estate agent to take note of any changes. Tell your notaire to enlist any agreement as legal and binding, down to the last terms that you've agreed upon. Doing so gives you solid proof of any discussion that went down during the whole process of purchase. So if legal problems arise, you'll be ready for them!
Marriage and Civil Partnerships
Practically any country has complex laws regarding joint ownership. France is in no way any different. For married couples, expect that the stake in the property will be divided equally. If you want to change such conditions, you should have stated it in your prenuptial agreement when you got married. But for multiple stakes in a single property, ownership will be divided amongst parties within 70%/20%/10%. Again, it's just up to you on how to divide such percentages amongst yourselves!
Things that Need Fixing
At times, you can't avoid properties on sale that might need some fixing. But who will shoulder such repaired during this process? Will it be you as the buyer and the next owner of the property? Or does the responsibility lie with the seller? The truth of the matter is that it depends on your discussions. At times, the seller can shoulder this responsibility if he/she has the means to do so. Or, if you'll agree to it, the cost of repairs can be included in the total price that you're going to pay in the end.
Relying on Surveys
In the process of selling/buying a property in France, surveys are fairly common. They will tell you about the state of the property that you're buying and what its overall condition is. And they're often conducted by state-recognized professionals so they're more or less trustworthy. Still, it pays to be apprehensive yourself. Don't rely too much on such surveys. It's still better to see the property yourself to decide if investing in it is really worth it.
Pay Your Deposit on Your Own Terms
Finally, it's time to pay your deposit. Many agents will tell you that the standard amount is 10% of the total agreed price. However, this still depends on you. You are, after all, the one spending the huge among of money. You still have a say in even the amount of the deposit you'll leave during the purchasing process. Discuss with your agent and your seller what amount will be more appropriate for you and that you'll be comfortable and prepared to pay. It's all about compromise!
Buying property in France might just be one of the smartest investments you'll ever make in your life. That is if you do it right! Know the standard and legal steps to take to purchasing a property in this country to ensure that you won't waste your money at the end of it all.