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.



8 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 !

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.

Leave a Reply