• France's news in English
 

Finding a home in France

Published: 15 Feb 2012 15:17 GMT+01:00

You might have your eyes set on a château, a farm, or a ruin you dream of renovating. But whatever it is that has caught your attention, be aware that finding a home in France, whether it’s renting or buying, is a challenging experience. 

Finding a home in France is a difficult task, one that even the locals dread. 60 percent of the French say they struggled to find a suitable home, a rate that increases to 71 percent for youths aged 18 to 29 years old, daily Le Figaro writes.

Should foreigners moving to France rent or buy? Legal fees for buying a first home are high and newcomers are advised to rent first and test the waters.

However, renting can also be a testing experience for foreigners. Landlords complain it’s difficult to kick out tenants who don’t pay the rent and demand a lot of guarantees before handing over the keys.

In Paris, housing shortages mean you often compete against other potential tenants for a flat or house.

Renting

You would think combing through ads in the local newspaper was a good way to start your house hunt. But that’s not the Gallic way to find a home. First, you must sort out your paperwork and put together a “bon dossier”, a good file in French.  Your “dossier” includes copies of ID card, tax forms, pay slips, etc.  You will need to hand these documents over to estate agents and landlords if you wish to rent.

In major cities, real estate agencies can require you to earn three to four times the rent, and have a guarantor who will step in and pay if you don’t.

These rules play against foreigners who often don’t have established relatives in France able to guarantee their rent.

You may be able to bypass these requirements by renting directly from owners, subletting or flat-sharing. Subletting is more informal so beware of scams, make sure the people you are dealing with are trustworthy.

If you are a foreigner working in France, do find out if your company can help you rent a flat or a house, they might be able to assist you with the admin.

The French state also runs schemes to help people find a home, check this website for details.

You can also find out what the average rent is in your area on this website.

You will be asked to put up a deposit, which cannot be higher than a month’s rent. Often landlords “forget” to refund the deposit at the end of the tenancy, so be sure to claim yours.

Buying

Buying involves hefty legal fees in France, so prospective buyers are advised to choose carefully.

Legal fees for buying a property reach 5 to 10 percent of the sale price.

Negotiating a sale in France has its distinctive features. Once you have reached a deal with a seller, the notary draws up a sale promise or “promesse de vente”. This takes the property off the market and bounds the buyer to purchasing the product or pay 10 percent of the sale price in compensation. This sale promise gives the buyer time to deal with paperwork, and finalise loans.

If the buyer fails to obtain a bank loan, the sale promise is cancelled.

Where to look

The Local’s own property section has English-language listings of hundreds of flats and houses across France.

Real estate agencies are a good source of information, but do not be tempted into buying lists of flats on offer, this is often a scam. You will be asked however to pay agency fees if you do find a flat through a real estate agent. These fees can reach up to a month’s rent. This does sound a lot, but renting through an agency can be cheaper on the long term. So check out all the options.

If you want to bypass agencies, check out ad sections in local newspapers, or online. These are some of the main housing websites in France: Particuliers à particuliers, craigslist, seloger, explorimmo. 

The website streetwise-france has links to many more housing websites.

Mortgages

French weekly Le Point writes that the middle classes are increasingly finding iteasier to buy than to rent. Landlords will require tenants to earn up to four times the rent, while bankers will give clients a mortgage for a third of their earnings.

Home buyers in France are only allowed to allocate up to a third of their income on mortgages. Banks encourage future home buyers to have 10 percent of the price of the property in savings to get a mortgage. If you want to find out what kind of loans you can get, ask several banks to do a simulation, and don’t hesitate inshopping around for the best loan.

French banks will ask foreigners to put a larger contribution upfront, up to 20 percent of the property price.

Oddities

It is not unusual to rent a flat or house without a fitted kitchen. So if you do not want to spend your first weeks in your new home eating sardines on bread, make sure your home has “une cuisine aménagée”, a kitchen with furniture, or even better “une cuisine équipée”, a kitchen with furniture and white goods.

It’s illegal to kick out a tenant who doesn’t pay his or her rent during the winter months. Struggling tenants can stay smug under the blankets from November 1st till March 15th.

Clea Caulcutt (news.france@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Who is slaying France's rugby roosters?
Over 30 of the roosters have been killed in the last month. Photo: Jim Bahn/Flickr

Who is slaying France's rugby roosters?

A distraught farmer has been left scratching her head after over thirty of her famous roosters have been "murdered" in the last month. The farmers' 'coqs' are known for making appearances during French international rugby matches. READ  

Post Paris attacks: How the French are thinking
Gauging the mood of French public opinion in post-Paris attacks France. Photo: AFP

Post Paris attacks: How the French are thinking

A mammoth survey has been carried out to try and gauge the mood of the French nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. From the public's views towards Islam, Marine Le Pen and extremists the Le Monde/Europe1 poll sheds light on current opinion. READ  

IN PICTURES
Fancy a night hanging in an Alps cable car 'hotel'?
Fancy spending a night in a cable car above Courchevel? Photo: AirBnB.co.uk

Fancy a night hanging in an Alps cable car 'hotel'?

Ever dreamed of spending a night in a cable car high above a ski resort in the French Alps? No neither have we. But those thrill seekers out there who don't suffer from vertigo might want to read on. READ  

Studying in France: what you need to know
France is home to 300,000 foreign students. Photo: Simone Ramella/Flickr

Studying in France: what you need to know

France is one of the most popular study destinations in the world, with nearly 300,000 foreign students. Relatively low tuition fees and the chance to live in France are certainly appealing, but France’s confusing higher education system can be frustrating to navigate. READ  

France vs Denmark: How to deal with jihadists?
What's the best way to deal with returning jihadists? The French want repression, but the Danes go for rehabilitation. Photo: AFP

France vs Denmark: How to deal with jihadists?

While Denmark is to plough millions of euros into helping jihadists reintegrate into society, France is taking a tougher stance as the public calls for more repression in the light of the terror attacks. READ  

Studying in France
France urged to charge foreign students fees
Could non-EU students soon be forced to pay for a higher education in France? Photo: AFP

France urged to charge foreign students fees

Non-EU students should pay the full cost of tuition if they want to study in France, a new report recommends, a move that could earn France €850 million per year. READ  

VIDEO - #Stop Jihadism
France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'
A screenshot from the "Stop Jihadism" video from the French government.

France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'

The French government has released a shock video campaign in the hope of dissuading young French nationals from heading to the Middle East to fight with Islamic jihadists, by telling them "you'll find hell on earth and you'll die alone, far from home". READ  

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Tightrope walkers at the Nice Carnival in 2014. Photo: Nicolas Grevet/Flickr

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February

Despite the cold, there's simply too much going on in France to stay locked up inside. Here are ten events worth checking out - from France's biggest carnival to a major film festival and Chinese New Year celebrations. READ  

Pollution in Paris
Paris mayor vows to ban coaches and trucks
Pollution levels in Paris have been compared to being in a room with eight smokers. Photo: AFP

Paris mayor vows to ban coaches and trucks

The mayor of Paris has called for a total ban on the most polluting of coaches and trucks in the French capital from July 1st, as she announced her plan to crack down on the city's notoriously dirty air. READ  

It's another new record for France's jobless total
More bad news on the job front for France as the numbers out of work continue to creep ever higher. Photo: AFP

It's another new record for France's jobless total

There was more bad news on the job front for France on Tuesday as the latest official statistics showed that the jobless total continues to creep ever higher, setting new records in the process. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Studying in France: what you need to know
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
The ways French motorists drive expats crazy
National
'French culture demands jihadists are punished not de-radicalised'
Culture
'Midriff the new cleavage' at Chanel's Paris show
Politics
'Syriza victory is good news for French people'
Society
France bars parents from naming baby 'Nutella'
National
France has no entrepreneurs!? What about fart pills for windy lovers?
Society
Nutella to Happy: The wacky French baby names banned by law
Culture
Men's Fashion Week in Paris in pictures - from penises to androgyny
Health
Could France be the next country to ban sunbeds?
Gallery
Ten French words you will never hear in France
National
Wrap up warm: Big freeze to hit northern France at the weekend
National
Muslims in France - 'They say we're not French'
National
Paris wants New York-inspired 'citizen cards'
Gallery
An architect has shown how he thinks Paris should look in 2050
Culture
Where are the real "no-go zones" in Paris? We've listed 10.
Society
Cheese diet helps oldest Frenchman live to 110
National
Charlie Hebdo chief stands firm over cartoons as global protests spread
National
'It feels like I'm in a warzone': Paris tourist
National
Are there really 'no-go zones' in Paris?
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
National
A futuristic vision of Paris revealed... and other news
National
What now for France post-terror attacks?
National
France to beef up its surveillance powers
National
Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours in France
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
France moves to crack down on terror speech in aftermath of attacks
National
French Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cover
National
'I only had a few seconds to hide from the Kouachis'
National
After three days of terror France feels like a nation
National
IN PICTURES: France's biggest street demos in recent history
National
And in other news in France ...
National
A defiant France rises up on solidarity like never before
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Paris marches for unity after terror attacks
National
OPINION: 'As bloody as it's been, France is not at war'
National
'It's a true nightmare': Parisians react to terror attacks
National
French to march in unity to help heal their wounded nation
National
Profile: the most wanted woman in France
National
Twitter disgust over 'I am Kouachi' hashtag
National
The incredible stories of how some survived the Paris gunmen
National
Al Qaeda threatens a shaken France with more terror
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

513
jobs available