Buying a house in France

Buying a house in France

Buying a house in France need not be a daunting task.

Here is a simple guide to buying a house in France.


In France there are 3 different ways to buy a property. You can buy a house:

  • through an estate agent (agent immobilier),
  • through a notaire
  • or direct from the vendors.


Buying a house using a French estate agent:

Buying a house in France from an estate agent is the most popular way. The agent will show you around some properties and once you have found your dream home and your offer has been accepted, the agent will guide you through till completion.

They will draft the preliminary contract (compromis de vente).

French estate agents window

There are no government controls on French estate agents’ fees. They usually charge between 5 to 10% of the

net price of the property. The cheaper the house is the higher their fee is and vice versa, the higher the price is, the lower their fee will be.

Fees are usually paid by the buyer. It is added to the ‘net vendor’ price. FAI means the “Frais d’Agence Inclus” = estate agent’s fees included.

However, it slowly becoming more common for the vendor to pay the commission, but this usually only results in the fees being added to the asking price!



Buying a house using a French notaire:

A Notairenotaire france is also a property negotiator. His/her negotiation fees (lower than French estate agent’s fee) are added to the purchase costs.

He / she will draw up the preliminary contract (compromis de vente) and the final deeds of sale (acte de vente) once your offer has been accepted.




Buying a house straight from vendor:

Once you have agreed on a price with the vendors, you will need to appoint a notaire. He/she will draw up the preliminary contract and the final deeds of sale. You can have your own notaire or use the one chosen by the vendors as a notaire is impartial and act on behalf of both parties.



In any of the 3 cases, you will then need to pay a deposit of between 5 to 10% of the value of the property when you sign the preliminary contract. You will have a 10 day cooling off period so if you decide to pull out, you will get 100% of funds already transferred. You will receive a copy of surveys. Surveys are there for your information only as you buy a property in France “as seen”.

Legal fees – often called frais de notaire in French – are about 8% of the value of the French property. They include stamp duty, registration fees and the notaire’s fees.

The time frame after signing the compromis is about 10 to 12 weeks. You will then visit the notaire to sign the final deeds of sale (Acte Authentique). A week before, you will have to transfer the final funds into the notaire’s account.  The appointment will last a good hour!

At the end of the signing you will receive the keys. You will be able to go back to your new house and celebrate with a glass of lovely French Champagne.


My advice when buying a house in France:

Employ an interpreter. You need to understand what you are signing and agreeing to. Your estate agent might be bilingual but it is best to employ an independent and impartial person to assist you with the transaction. The “Compromis de vente”, “Acte de vente”, “Servitudes”, “droit d’échelle”, and all the “Diagnostics techniques”, etc are all part of the procedure. If these words are Chinese to you, please seek assistance as it can cost you money later!


Use a foreign exchange company when transferring funds overseas. You will save money! I recommend this company here.


Please don’t hesitate to contact me here if you require further assistance with buying a house in France.

I am a French National and I am bilingual; I established Anglo French Communication in 2004 to provide my customers with an efficient, professional and friendly translation and relocation service. Since then I have built up a sizable client base throughout France and around the world.



49 Comments so far

JanePosted on  3:06 pm - Jan 8, 2018

Thank you for sharing this information about “Buying a house in France”. Very useful. I am thinking about moving to France soon so I will contact you, no doubt. You seem to be the expert!

BonitaPosted on  11:14 pm - Jan 18, 2018

Hi Rachel
Your name has been recommended to me as I have a French house in Brittany and desperately need some help. My husband died recently and I do not know what I have to do regarding our French Property, French taxes, French Bank account etc. Please can you help?

Christine SmithPosted on  11:22 pm - Jan 18, 2018

Dear Rachel having purchased a French property last year I have not received any invoice for taxes to be paid would this be correct. I understood that Tax Fonciere and Tax Habitation would need to be paid on our French House can you help us with this small problem

    RachelG GallardPosted on  12:53 pm - Jan 19, 2018

    Dear Christine,
    You will receive your first French taxes (taxe d’habitation and taxe fonciere) this year as you bought your property last year. We pay our taxes in France in arrears.
    Voilà !

    RachelG GallardPosted on  3:47 pm - Jan 25, 2018

    Dear Christine,
    There is no taxe fonciere to pay for last year. Same for the taxe d’habitation.
    You will receive your first French taxes in September (taxe fonciere then taxe d’habitation)

    Kind regards

Steve Le PatourelPosted on  3:30 am - Jan 20, 2018

Hi Rachel
We are looking into buying a French property near Brittany / Normandy and could do with some advice as to how go about it. We would be looking probably to permanently living in France in the near future. Any good advice would be welcome. I await your reply.

    RachelG GallardPosted on  1:24 pm - Jan 20, 2018

    Dear Steve

    Thank you for your message.

    I can certainly help you.

    From searching for your French property, to liaising with the notaire and any third parties,
    I can help you with registering with the French health system, importing your UK car, insuring your car, your house, setting up a phone line, Internet connection, EDF, etc.
    I also offer French lessons either face to face if you live in Brittany or via Skype.

    See the page about my fees. You will see I offer an annual fee. People moving to France find it very useful:

    I also offer various relocation packages for people moving to France:

    Please feel free to contact me. I offer a free initial chat over the phone during which we can discuss your move to France.
    Looking forward to speaking to you.

Lia RenoughPosted on  1:21 pm - Jan 31, 2018

Hello Rachel, I am so glad I have found your web site. You seem to offer a wide range of services to people moving to France, before, during and after their move. I have bookmarked your page and I will be in touch soon to see if you are able to help me.

Penny SmithPosted on  1:25 pm - Jan 31, 2018

Hi Rachel, reading information on your web site you seem to be a one stop shop for people moving to France. Our house is on the market at the moment (UK) and as soon as it is sold, we will be moving to France. we could do with some help with choosing the area to start looking. Can you help?

Steven RogerPosted on  1:29 pm - Jan 31, 2018

Hi Rachel, thank you for taking the time to write useful information about moving to France. There are so many web sites online, it is hard to find one similar to yours, informative easy to understand and useful. The buying process of a French property is now much clearer to us. Merci !

Carol JPosted on  12:59 pm - Feb 4, 2018

Hi Rachel I am in the process of buying a property in France. I have signed a Compromis yesterday, but alas my French is not great and the agent’s English is basic. I want to make sure I understand what I am buying as the neighbour has a right of way on the land I am buying. Can you help me with translating this document? A verbal translation would be sufficient. I do hope you can help with this problem. Many thanks.

Sally JamesPosted on  1:06 pm - Feb 4, 2018

Dear Rachel I am interested in buying a house in France. I have been searching online for a house for 2 months now. I have selected several properties, however, being in the UK and not able to take some time of work (I am a teacher) I can’t come and view them myself being limited for time. I need someone to view properties for me and to report her/his feedback. Is this a service you that provide?

AnniePosted on  4:34 pm - Feb 15, 2018

Hi Rachel

I am in the process of buying a house in France. I have a question – I hope you don’t mind me asking:

How can I pay for the house when it gets to completion time? I don’t have a French bank account yet.


    RachelG GallardPosted on  4:36 pm - Feb 15, 2018

    Dear Annie,

    The best way to pay for your French property is by bank transfer. A couple of weeks before completion time, the notaire will email you the balance to pay (price of the French property, plus legal fees and estate agent’s fees if you have bought through an estate agent). He/she will of course deduct the deposit you paid when you signed the Compromis de vente (preliminary contract). The notaire will also send you his/her bank details (RIB = Relevé d’Identité Bancaire) including Iban and BIC.

    I strongly advise to use a foreign exchange company for transferring large amounts of money. Banks don’t offer the best rate. You could save a lot of money! It only takes a few minutes to open an account with a currency broker. Please follow my link here:

    I hope this helps!


Adele ButtonPosted on  5:43 pm - Feb 15, 2018

Hi Rachel, a friend has highly recommended you as we need some advice/help. We are in the early stages of buying a French property hopefully near Dinan Brittany. We are very new to this and do not speak a lot of French yet, so would be seeking help on buying property, organizing schools etc. Would you be able to help us with this transition from the UK. Many thanks Adele

TinaPosted on  12:09 pm - Feb 16, 2018

Hi Rachel hopefully you’ll be able to help us. We are having to sell our French Property due to ill health so need to return to the UK. Please would you be able to help us with translation at the notaire, also other unforseen problems which may need sorting out. Thank you I await your reply. Tina

SuzannaPosted on  4:01 pm - Feb 16, 2018

Hi Rachel
Do I need to open an account with a French bank to manage my French property?
I am buying a house in Brittany, completion should be around Easter time.
I hope you can help me.

    RachelG GallardPosted on  4:04 pm - Feb 16, 2018

    Dear Suzanna
    You don’t need to open an account with a bank to purchase your French house.
    You can pay for the house by bank transfer or even better using a currency broker to save money. See this link for more information:
    However, to set up amenities (EDF, water, phone line, internet connection) you will require a French bank account. You can open one in person when you are in France after the purchase of your house.

JennyPosted on  4:02 pm - Feb 16, 2018

Dear Rachel
I have organized to view a few properties with a French estate agent for next weekend. He doesn’t speak much English and I only speak basic French. He’s asked me to visit his office before the viewings to sign a Bon de Visite. What is it?
I don’t like signing papers I don’t understand!

    RachelG GallardPosted on  4:03 pm - Feb 16, 2018

    Dear Jenny,

    A Bon de Visite is a document French estate agents ask any potential buyer to sign before viewing a property in France.
    This document specifies the details of the buyer, the property (house or apartment), and the date of the visit.
    It provides proof that you were introduced to the seller by the estate agent. You can’t subsequently negotiate directly with the seller to avoid paying the estate agent’s commission.
    You are right to be uncomfortable signing documents in French without understanding what you are signing. I would suggest employing a translator to help you with the purchase of your property.
    See this link here.

    I hope this helps.

BRIANPosted on  2:38 am - Feb 21, 2018

Hi Rachel I have been reading all your vèry helpful information on this site. We are looking for French Property on the coast of Brittany. Are you able to guide us through each stage as and when we find our dream holiday home. We are not very conversant in French which is a bit concerning. Your help would be much appreciated at a later date. Brian

BRIANPosted on  9:09 am - Feb 21, 2018

Hi Rachel thank you for your quick response. I am working out dates to come over to France and will definitely use your services. Brian

JuliePosted on  7:54 pm - Feb 21, 2018

Hi Rachel, I read on your website that you did one to one French lessons. You also are able to do lessons by Skype I believe. If this is so do you have availability from end of March where you could book me in for learning French. Many thanks Julie

Thomas RPosted on  2:47 pm - Feb 26, 2018

Dear Rachel, thank you very much for explaining very simply the process of buying a French Property, the information has been very useful to us. We were very surprised at what the Estate Agents Fees were. We will try to buy through a Notaire. It seems like a better/cheaper option and will probably look into this way first. Thank you once again. Thomas R

JohnPosted on  7:10 pm - Feb 27, 2018

By reading your message about “Buying a house in France”, it looks like the best (cheapest!) option to buy a property in France would be from the vendors. However, my question is:
How can we buy a house direct from the vendors, being based abroad without having to use any estate agents in France?

    RachelG GallardPosted on  12:32 pm - Feb 28, 2018

    Dear John,
    Several web sites advertise for French properties straight from private owners. However, this web site is the most commonly used:
    You will need to speak some French as you will have to correspond with them to obtain further information (photos and to organise viewings).
    A lot of French people don’t answer emails, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get an answer! You might have to send several emails – in French of course!
    Negotiation will have to be done direct with the French vendors.
    If you require assistance with liaising with them, please contact me. I charge a set fee to handle the whole process.

    I also offer a property search service. I need to know what you are looking for ie area, budget, number of bedrooms, etc. I tend to look for properties sold direct from vendors if I can.
    I am at your disposal for further information regarding your house purchase in France.


JennyPosted on  8:39 am - Mar 5, 2018

Hi Rachel

We are in the process of buying a house in France straight from the vendor. Our French is not great (only school French!) and the French vendors have limited English. Can you help us with liaising with them?

We have made an offer which they accepted last night. We would need help with the buying process, liaising with the vendors and the notaire. We require assistance with the admin and legal side of it.
Can you help?

JULIE GRANTPosted on  7:37 am - Mar 9, 2018

Dear Rachel,
We have a French holiday home in Caulnes Brittany and the neighbours have approached us about purchasing a small piece of land attached to us. Would you be able to help us with the transaction ie. Translation, notaire, etc.
Kind regards
Julie G.

SuziePosted on  4:56 pm - Mar 11, 2018

Hi Rachel
We are buying a house in France with a joining property and are thinking of maybe renting out.
Are you able to assist us with what we would need to do?
Many thanks Suzie

Mike BennettPosted on  3:11 pm - Mar 23, 2018

Hi Rachel, you were very kind and professional in helping some friends buy their French Property a few years ago and wondered, as we are in the process of buying a plot of land from them, if you could assist us with the Notaire side of things and bits of French Translation that will be needed along the way. Regards Mike Bennett

Thomas ReillyPosted on  1:12 pm - Aug 10, 2018

Hi Rachel, we would just like to thank you now we are settled in our “dream French home” without your assistance and professional advise we could have ended up with buying the other French property that has “dry rot” thank goodness you were able to point the problems that would arise from this situation. For a very small fee you have helped us with all our translation etc., and we cannot thank you enough. We will definitely use your services for the future and highly recommend you to our friends. We raise a glass (or maybe a few) of wine and say thanks Rachel.

Ian SmithPosted on  8:59 am - Sep 24, 2018

Dear Rachel, Our property is in Brittany and is owned by my children. The taxe Foncière has been sent to one of them at her UK address. We would like the Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d’Habitation to be sent directly to our French home address. I have tried online with no success, and have difficulty understanding what they are asking for. Can you please help or advise me what I need to do? Thank you for your time in reading this request.


    RachelG GallardPosted on  9:35 am - Sep 24, 2018

    Dear Ian,
    You can send the tax office a short note asking them to send any future correspondence to your French address. Here is the wording:

    Madame, Monsieur,
    Merci d’envoyer toute correspondance à mon adresse (write your address here).
    Merci d’avance.

    Kind regards

Roy HendersonPosted on  9:46 am - Oct 12, 2018

Hi Rachel. Thank you for your help with my tax Fonciere payment I was having problems with the online payment system due to the UK. IBAN number not being recognised in the French system. thank you for resolving this problem. Regards Roy

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