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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.



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