It’s Time To Invest In The French Property Market
Do you dream of owning your very own piece of France’s most glamourous coastline? The world-renowned Côte d’Azur offers a dazzling array of properties to suit the most discerning buyers.
By Keely Barrett
With its 300 annual days of sunshine, it’s no surprise that this sun-soaked corner of France is so popular. Its enviable geographic location, nestled between scenic coastline and the Alps, keeps residents and visitors flocking to coastal towns and charming hilltop villages. From rental investments to exquisite coastal villas, the area actually has property options for all budgets and attracts clients from all over the world. Cosmopolitan and international, the Côte d’Azur appeals to a wide variety of clients and the property market is consistent. Aside from born and bred locals, the area attracts a strong international clientele along with many Parisians in search of a place in the sun.
Unlike in some other countries, the buying process in France is heavily geared towards the buyer, which can be especially reassuring for first time French property buyers.
With such a varied property market, there are hundreds of estate agencies, often seeming to offer the same properties, different prices, less than perfect photos and too commonly little indication of the precise location of the property.
Luckily, French Riviera agencies are generally open to collaboration. In many sales there are two agents; one representing the seller and one representing the buyer who simply split the agency fees between them. This can facilitate the whole process when both buying and selling, as by appointing one proactive agent as your point of contact, you can reach virtually the whole market.
As a buyer, this would mean that it’s to your advantage to carefully choose an efficient and reactive agent and let them search the whole market for you, rather than trawling through thousands of adverts online with thousands of different agencies.
In France, there is no rule regarding negotiation for buying property. Your agent should be able to guide you appropriately for your offer based on each individual property and circumstances. An important point to know is that properties in France do not sell above asking price, so the best way to avoid missing out on a property is to offer the asking price, especially if there are several buyers interested. Once your offer is accepted by a seller, both parties appoint notaries and sign the ‘compromis de vente’ (preliminary contract) detailing the pricing and agreement of the sale.
The buyer is provided with a number of documents regarding the property, including diagnostic reports and detailed information regarding the co-ownership, if you’re purchasing an apartment. The buyer alone benefits from a 10-day cooling off period before they are tied into the sale. After these initial 10 days, both parties are committed to the sale. If you’re taking out a French mortgage, you would have a mortgage clause written into the compromis de vente, making the sale dependent on the approval of your financing.
The sales process generally takes between 2-4 months, depending on the financing and complexity of the sale. Your agent and notary should be there to guide and advise you throughout the sale.
Agency fees are generally included in advertised property prices and are most often paid by the seller. Buyers have to budget for additional legal fees and taxes on top of an agreed property price. These fees average between 7 and 8% of a property price.
This is important to take into account when fixing a budget for your purchase and for any discussions with mortgage brokers or banks.
On the day of completion, the property ownership is officially transferred to the buyer who can finally start enjoying their new home on the Riviera.
With countless possibilities for investment, for both business and pleasure, it’s no surprise the French Riviera remains a widely recognised favourite with buyers the world over.
Author: Keely Barrett is an international real estate consultant on the French Riviera.