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Expats: how to buy a property in France
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Are you dreaming of spending your retirement in France or are you returning to France after several years abroad? Rather than consider renting, why not purchase a property? You can definitely invest in a home in France, even if you still live abroad: just be methodical and patient – and take some professional advice!

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Financing the purchase of your property in France

France is renowned for its history, relaxed lifestyle and incredible cuisine. Every year, the country attracts more than 62,000 foreign purchasers, including residents and non-residents, and encourages many expats to return home. Are you one of them?

First step: working out your budget. If you are a French expat or a national of a European Union country, there is nothing to prevent you from obtaining a loan from a French bank. Good news, you can use your property as security, for example in the form of a mortgage, and you’ll find it easier to access credit.

In all other cases, the law requires you to have held a long-term resident's permit or an employee resident's permit for at least 5 years on the date you apply for your loan.

You should be aware that banks will often require all your paperwork (payslips, tax returns, etc.) to be translated into French.

You can also transfer funds from your country of residence. Checks will be carried out on these transfers, as part of measures to prevent money laundering.

Purchasing a property in France: a notary is required

Once you’ve chosen the property of your dreams, you’ll have to complete the usual formalities when buying a French property:

  • signing a preliminary contract (promise or agreement) and paying the vendor a sum of 5 to 10% of the sale price;

  • signing the final contract of sale, with a notary, which generally takes place in the months after the preliminary contract is signed. This stage involves costs which are called "frais de notaire" [conveyancing costs], but which also include the transfer costs (i.e. the public taxes applicable to the sale). These are paid by the purchaser and can be as high as 8% of the value of the purchase with older properties, but can be as low as 2 to 3% with newly built properties.

If you cannot travel to sign these contracts, you can choose a professional or a member of your family to be a proxy; this can be organised via the French consulate of your country of residence. You should also be aware that certain specialist agencies can take care of all formalities and help you to purchase a property, even if you’re not in the country.

> Find out more: preparing to move abroad

French property taxes

All property owners in France, whether French or foreign, are subject to local property taxes:

  • the "taxe foncière" [land tax], the value of which depends on the features of your home and on the budgetary decisions of each local authority;

  • the "taxe d’habitation" [residence tax], if the owners occupy the home as a principal or secondary residence. However, significant tax relief has been available since 2018 for occupiers of principal residences.

Are you planning to rent out your property for all or part of the year?  Your rental income will then be taxed, on the basis of industrial and commercial profits if you rent out a furnished property, or on the basis of rental income if you rent out an unfurnished property.

APRIL International is reinventing top-up health insurance for expats in France

With 5 levels of cover and payment of hospital costs with even the most basic policy, MyHealth France top-up health insurance from APRIL International provides effective cover in addition to the mandatory French Social Security system.

There’s no age limit, no conditions about the duration and no medical formalities: you’ll be covered wherever you are in France and further afield, if needed.

Contact us!

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