Finding a Property
- Much information is readily available from magazines and Internet websites advertising properties for sale in France; it is very easy to get an idea of what type of property is available and at what cost before you actually start your search.
- There are many ways to search for properties: estate agents, property magazines and ''home hunters". In more popular or urban areas you will probably find estate agents who offer an English speaking service.
- Think carefully about the location and type of the property depending on whether you plan for it to be your main residence, second home, holiday home to be let out on occasion or a property to be let as an investment for the future.
- Make a list of the important elements - the purchase price, the overall size and number of rooms, is a cave (cellar) or garage essential, would you prefer a garden, terrace or balcony, etc - it will keep you and your estate agent on the right track to find your ideal property.
- The type of property and its condition is also an important consideration. There are certain types of properties that will not be acceptable for mortgage finance and the property should be classed as "habitable" meaning structurally sound and having the basic utilities of electricity, mains water and sewerage system, all conforming to the current regulations. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to raise mortgage finance on buildings constructed of wood, stone cabanons, derelict barns and properties with agricultural land. Some lenders will not accept properties that have been registered for commercial use such as gîtes and chambres d'hôtes.
- Buying to renovate or build a new property demands careful pre-planning. Certain French building regulations are very different from other countries and permission has to be granted from the local mairie (Town Hall). Detailed applications must be completed for the Certificat d'urbanisme (certificate of town planning/urban development) and other documents, which state what developments are allowable on the property and its land.
- You will need the advice of an expert - an architect or surveyor. If you are relying on mortgage finance for renovation works, then the works will have to be completed by tradesmen who are registered in France. Registered tradesmen have the correct insurances covering their work - it is the essential guarantee for the bank or lender.
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