A home in France in 2019 is well within your reach – but getting from scrolling through listings to having the keys to your dream home can seen like a confusing process. There are a lot of steps to follow and hoops to jump through. That’s why it’s so crucial to draw up your timescale for buying a home in France. In this Part Two of Buying in France, we look at how to do just that: what time to give for each part and what milestones you should complete at each stage. And, don’t forget to read Part One on planning your property hunt, if you missed it.

How do you set out your timescale for buying a home in France?

This may seem counter-intuitive, but you should work backwards from your end date, rather than forwards. This helps to contain everything and make sure everything is as fast as possible, while still being realistic. Fix the end date and then work back two, three, four, five and six months from that with the following stages. Then follow back up the stages, from 6 to 0 months, when you go through the process.

Six months from being a French home owner

Firstly, narrow down your choices with our news articles and checklists. Think about your must-haves, nice-to-haves and definitely-don’t-wants!

Secondly, fix your budget. We can provide you with an introduction to Smart Currency Exchange. As the thousands of 5* reviews left by our readers on Trustpilot attest, they can help you to get a realistic idea of your real budget – and can protect it against suddenly moving rates.

Remember, when setting that budget, that you won’t be able to access the interbank rate (the one you see on the news). Plan for a couple of percentage points around that.

If required, speak to a mortgage advisor. Again, the London-based Resource Centre can put in touch with tried and tested experts for free – simply fill in your details in the contact form or give us a ring on 020 7898 0549.

Five months from being a French home owner

At this point in your timescale for buying a home in France, it’s time to actually start looking for the home. Check out properties on our portal to start with.

You’ll also need to start thinking about how best to structure the deal. That way, with the financial and legal elements in place, you’ll be ready to act quickly if needed. If you’re having trouble finding a solicitor, the Resource Centre can put you in touch with ones used by many of our readers with great success.

You’ll need to start thinking about how best to structure the deal. That way, with the financial and legal elements in place, you’ll be ready to act quickly if needed.

Four months from being a French home owner:

At this point, you’ll be speaking to estate agents directly to narrow down properties for realistically achievable viewing trips.

Work out your timescale for buying a home in France and you could be in a beautiful village like Rocamadour by late spring 2019.

Work out your timescale for buying a home in France and you could be in a beautiful village like Rocamadour by late spring 2019.

Once that’s done, book your viewing trips as soon as you can. Now in your timescale for buying a home in France, it’s worth contacting again your lawyer and Smart Currency, to ensure you’ve got a reservation deposit and legal structure in place.

Read your free copy of our insider guide, How to Negotiate Abroad, for tips and tricks from estate agents.

Three months from being a French home owner:

Start meeting specialists in all areas, such as inheritance laws, property taxes, removals, as well as agents, by attending property shows. We’ll be at Your Overseas Home throughout next year, so do keep checking back for tickets.

Make further viewing trips if necessary, and then make an offer as soon as you find the right property. Book a survey, if required.

At this point, you’ll need to contract a notaire. You can find out more in our article on when you need to use a notaire and what they do.

Start arranging how you’ll transfer your overall budget. You may wish to use a forward contract. This is where you fix an exchange rate for 12 months, so you know that you won’t suddenly need to pay thousands more if the exchange rate drops.

Two months from being a French home owner

You’re on the homeward stretch in your timescale for buying a home in France! If required, your first thing to do will be signing the reservation contract.

Then, it’s time for the compromis de vente, or deposit contract. You’ll need to pay your deposit – if you’ve protected your money with a forward contract, you’ll already know exactly how much this will cost you.

Use the ten-day cooling off period to plan decorations and renovation! Double-check also that you’ve got everything covered for getting utilities connected.

Finally, make your final payment. Sign the contract (acte de vente) in the presence of your notaire and seller. And congratulations – you’ve got yourself your dream home in France!

Buying a House in France Guide.

The France Buying Guide walks you step-by-step through each stage of the property buying process in France. Additionally, there are also practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Know the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in France

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