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EXPLAINED: How to access France’s €20k property renovation grants

The French government has extended the renovating initiative MaPrimeRenov’ to make it available to all home owners, including for second homes, for grants of up to €20,000. Here's how to go about applying for the scheme.

EXPLAINED: How to access France's €20k property renovation grants
Illustration photo: AFP

What is it?

Launched back in January 2020, the government scheme MaPrimeRenov’ lets homeowners apply for financial help to renovate their homes.

Each household can get up to €20,000 to renovate, although the amount will depend on several factors, including the type of project, the household income and the number of people living there.

Previously reserved for modest-income households, the scheme has been expanded and is now available to everyone, including high-income owners, landlords renting out their property and second home owners. 

Applicants do however need a French numéro fiscal (tax number) and a copy of their latest tax declaration, which means those who do not file the annual tax declaration in France are effectively excluded

What kind of work is covered by the scheme?

The grant scheme covers four main categories of renovating work:

  • Heating (so changing the heater, for example, or installing a new system)
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Energy audits

However the company hired to renovate must be on the government-approved list of companies that qualify for the grant, which means they need the label RGE (Reconnue Garant de l’Environnement).

Who can access the grant scheme?

Only property owners can access the scheme, so not those renting.

The building needs to be more than 2 years old.

For several months only lower-income owners could benefit from the scheme, but from July has been open to everyone.

At first the scheme was closed to second home owners, but a government decree published on January 26th confirmed that it had been widened to include anyone “with a legal right to the property”.

That includes co-owners, second home owners and landlords who rent out their property.

Why is the government doing this?

France’s economy has been reeling since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country with full force in March 2020, prompting several months of lockdown and economic downturn.

Of the government’s enormous €100 billion rescue package, €2 billion was earmarked for households.

The goal, as stated in the French government’s relaunch plan, is to stimulate the economy while transforming households into more environmentally friendly, less energy-hungry entities.

READ ALSO From taxes to toilets: All you need to know about renovating a house in France

Income thresholds

To determine whether or not a project is eligible for the grant scheme and how much money the household gets, the government checks the total income of the household against the cost of the renovating project.

The income thresholds for households depend on the kind of services needed, outlined in four different MaPrimeRénov’ schemes: blue, yellow, violet or pink (full list HERE).

While MaPrimeRénovBleu (blue) is typically restricted to modest-income households, the maximum income thresholds also depend on the number of people living in the property and whether or not it is located in greater Paris Île-de-France region. 

Below you can see the income thresholds for households outside the Paris region:

Photo: French government

And here is a photo showing the income thresholds for those inside the Paris region:

Photo: French government

If you want to check if your project is eligible for the grant scheme, the government website Faire has a Simul’Aid simulator available here.

How do I apply?

To apply for a grant, you must create an account on maprimerenov.gouv.fr and connect to that account. In order to do this you will need a numéro fiscal, the number you use for filling out your tax returns, plus other documents you use when filing your taxes (bank details – both French and international banks work – copy of your ID, etc).

You will be asked to provide:

  • A copy of your latest tax return
  • An email address and a phone number
  • Names and dates of birth of all members of the household
  • A dévis (builders’ invoice) for the work done
  • The amount of any other help schemes or grants the household benefits from
  • Co-owner households must provide an attestation signed by all parties as well as information regarding the number of households in the home.

Only work done after October 1st, 2020 is accepted (so applicants need a dévis signed after that date). 

A detailed guide to each step of the process can be found at maprimerenov.gouv.fr under the section “Me renseigner”.

READ ALSO: How to convert a rustic barn into your dream home

Where can I get more information?

For more information and to access the grant, go to MaPrimeRénov’. You can also call +33 (0) 8 08 800 700 if you have specific questions on the scheme.

If you want to search for a government approved renovating company in your area, go to this website, tap in your postcode and type of work you want done and hit search.

 
 

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PROPERTY

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

If you're researching the French property market, you might have come across mentions of 'courtiers' - here's what they do and whether they are necessary.

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

The French ‘courtier‘ is usually translated as a broker, and the Notaires Association describes their role like this: “the broker is a true intermediary in banking operations. His/her role is to negotiate the best rates for you, but not only that: they will also find the most advantageous financing conditions for the realisation of your project.”

Essentially they act as an intermediary between you and the banks, so they’re only required if you need a mortgage or a loan in order to buy your French property. 

Their job is to research the best deals for you and then to help you put together your application and ensure that all your paperwork is correct – unlike the notaire, instructing a courtier is not a required part of the process, so the decision on whether to instruct one is up to you. 

So is it worth it?

Among French buyers, around 30 percent of mortgages are obtained using the services of a courtier, and this rises to 60 percent among young, first-time buyers, who generally find it harder to access credit.

Some of things to consider are your level of French and confidence in negotiating French bureaucracy, your financial situation (since French mortgage lenders tend to be stricter than those in the UK or US) and whether you currently live in France or not (since there are extra hoops to jump through for overseas buyers).

READ ALSO Is now a good time to buy a home in France?

“Things have changed,” Trevor Leggett, group president of Leggett International estate agents, told The Local. “It’s now more important than ever to work closely with a reputable broker.

“In France it is all paper-based, very old-school and extremely bureaucratic, a different world entirely to the UK. Preparing the client “dossier” so that it will be accepted is an art form.”

READ ALSO MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

He advised non-resident international clients, particularly, who may not be au fait with the French system to seek the help of a broker who knows the ropes.

“The question is no longer really about savings,” he said. “It is about finding a bank that can actually lend to the client profile, interests rate are secondary. 

“It occasionally happens that one bank can be played off against another, or to shop around, but it’s a rare event nowadays.”

READ ALSO Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

And he had no hesitation in recommending that prospective buyers find a broker to sort out the financing.

“The lending market has tightened for international buyers and a good one is worth their weight in gold,” he said.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Time-frame for buying and selling property in France

In France, you make an offer on a property and then you begin the mortgage process (while in the UK it’s the other way round) so problems in getting your mortgage approved could lead to you losing your dream property.

“[Using a courtier] can be the difference between buying and not,” added Trevor.

“It’s not just any possible language barrier – but understanding the process and the different players in the market.”

How much?

The cost of hiring a courtier is borne by the buyer – but how much do they charge?

The courtier usually charges a percentage of the total mortgage amount – fees must be fixed in advance and are only payable once your mortgage application has been approved. 

Fees vary between different areas and different businesses, but the average fee is €2,000, which amounts to around one percent of the purchase price.

Many brokers set a minimum amount – around €1,500 – for smaller loans, and take a percentage of larger loans, so how much you pay depends on your property budget. 

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