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Buying property in France as a foreigner: Complete guide

buying property in France

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Buying property in France as a foreigner has become an attractive investment option. Numerous foreigners visit France for its tourist destinations and to purchase French properties for business or residential purposes. If you are a foreigner looking to invest in the French real estate industry, this article will provide a complete guide to buying property in France.

Overview of the French real estate market

France is the world’s top tourist destination for inbound travelers worldwide in 2023, with 100 million international tourist arrivals. Along with this huge influx of foreign arrivals, the real estate industry is steadily growing since many foreigners are buying property in France and applying for residency. This growth resulted in the French real estate market being valued at $493.6 million in 2023 and is predicted to reach $598.9 million by 2030, at a CAGR of 2.8% from 2024 to 2030. Beyond its historical and cultural significance, France’s economic and legal stability attracts property investors, making it a significant player in the European investment market for real estate.

Can foreigners buy property in France?

There are no restrictions on who can buy property in France, and no legal restrictions are imposed on foreign ownership of French properties, including land. More importantly, there are no limits on the number of properties you can own in France, meaning foreigners can freely purchase multiple properties for any given purpose. However, the process for non-EU (European Union) citizens can be more difficult than buying property in France for EU citizens or French nationals because of the paperwork and due diligence involved. EU citizens who can buy property in France easily have a straightforward process due to fewer bureaucratic hurdles brought by the EU’s free movement and settlement policies

Popular cities and areas

France has a competitive real estate market, tourism, and a rich cultural heritage that attracts foreigners to a wide array of choices where to buy French property. Here are some famous cities and areas as a guide to buying property in France: 

  • Paris: Paris is the capital city of France and is known for its famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral. It is the global center for fashion, tourism, culinary, and finance, making it the most visited city in France, with high demand for residential and commercial real estate.
  • French Riviera (Côte d’Azur): The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline in the southeast corner of France. Tourists visit this area for its pristine beaches, which combine natural beauty, cultural heritage, luxury, and leisure. The French Riviera is a hotspot for luxury real estate investment for foreigners looking for beachfront properties, luxurious villas, and prestigious apartments.
  • Provence: Buying land in France is best done in Provence, which is known for colorful lavender fields, wide vineyards, small hilltop villages, and French markets. Luxury villas and historical houses are available in Provence, which attracts foreigners looking for a peaceful living environment. 
  • Bordeaux: The wine capital of France, is an international tourist destination with more than 350 historical buildings and monuments, a museum galore, a cutting-edge wine experience, and top-tier cuisine. Its real estate market offers a selection of country houses, apartments, modern villas, chateaux, mansions, and vineyards.
  • Lyon: Is recognized for its cuisine, gastronomy, and historical and architectural landmarks. It also thrives as France’s second-largest student city, boasting its renowned universities and higher education schools. Luxury villas, chateaus, private mansions, or luxurious apartments are among the real-estate projects foreigners can consider buying in Lyon.
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Cost of buying property in France

The cost of buying property in France varies depending on factors such as the property’s location, size, amenities, and local real estate market trends. Here is a list of prices you can use as a guide to buying property in France.

  1. Buying land: Buying land in France costs on average €91 ($97.73) per square meter. In the region near Paris, land prices reach an average of €255 ($274) per square meter. In Provence, Alpes, and Côte d’Azur, land is priced at an average of €180 ($193), while the French overseas regions are at €164 ($176) per square meter. 
  2. Buying a house: Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux are the most expensive cities for buying a house in France. The average price per square meter is €10,380 ($11,148) in Paris, €6,455 ($6,933) in Lyon, and €5,507 ($5,915) in Bordeaux. On the other hand, you can buy a house in France for an average price of €2,000 ($2,148) to €3,000 ($3,222) per square meter at Nîmes, Le Havre, and Saint-Étienne.
  3. Buying an apartment: Foreigners buying property in France to rent out choose apartments because they are slightly less expensive than houses. In November 2023, the average square meter price of an apartment in Paris was almost €10,000 ($10,740), compared to €4,900 ($5,263) per square meter in Lyon. 

Pros and cons of buying property in France

Before buying real estate in France as a foreigner, you must know the advantages and disadvantages. The following compares the pros and cons for foreigners looking to buy French property.

Pros of buying property in France:

  1. Stable economy and legal system: France has a diversified, stable, and mature economy. Compared to the uncertainties of new and developing economies, France’s mature property market and stable economy provide a secure environment for property investment.
  2. High quality of life: France provides an outstanding quality of life with solid infrastructure, an excellent educational system, and one of the world’s finest healthcare systems. In 2024, it achieved a Quality of Life Index of 152.0 and ranked 32nd globally.
  3. Potential investment growth: France’s real estate is regarded as reliable due to its strong rental yields (about 7–10%) and potential for capital appreciation of between 5 and 10%. While capital appreciation is lower than in some economies, it is nonetheless regarded as having profitable, trustworthy, and stable investment conditions.
  4. Diverse options: France offers many regions with diverse local real estate markets. The country boasts a rich architectural and historical heritage, evident in its magnificent and luxurious real estate properties.

Cons of buying property in France:

  1. Expensive properties: French properties can be more costly than those in other European countries. This high property price is due to high demand, favorable location, and access to many luxurious amenities. 
  2. Tax burden on property owners: France is well-known for its high property taxation, including local taxes, wealth tax (for higher-valued properties), and capital gains tax on property sales, in addition to a generally high cost of living.
  3. Complex bureaucracy: Buying property in France as a foreigner can be daunting due to complex bureaucracy. A lawyer can be needed to assist in the legalities and ensure that the home-buying process runs smoothly.
guide to buying property in france

How to buy a house in France: 6-Step process

A guide to buying a property in France is crucial, especially for first-time homebuyers who find it challenging. Follow this step-by-step process on how to buy a house in France.

Step 1. Define your property needs

Foreigners are buying a house in France for various reasons. It could be for investment and business purposes or purely for residential purposes. Defining your needs can streamline your options and aid in budgeting.

Step 2. Research the real estate market

Buying a home in France requires informed knowledge of the current real estate trends, property prices, legalities, and procedures. Foreigners looking to buy French property must be familiar with the real estate market to make financially forward decisions.

Step 3. Connect to a real estate agent and look for properties

A real estate agent can be helpful in buying a home in France. It is not a requirement to have a real estate agent, but they are there for a reason: to help you look for the best property that fits your needs and budget. View multiple properties and compare the amenities and benefits of each property.

Step 4. Make an offer

Once you find a suitable property, submit a formal offer letter (lettre d’intention d’achat), indicating your proposed purchase price. If the seller accepts your offer, a contract arises, subject to any conditions in the offer.

Step 5. Create an agreement with the seller

After the seller accepts your price offer, you can create a “promise to sell” (compromise de vente) contract based on it. The promise to sell contract is a binding agreement between the seller and the buyer stating that the price cannot be altered and that the seller cannot sell the property to anyone else. During this stage, you will pay your 10% deposit to the notaire. Consulting a lawyer specializing in French property law is needed to write this contract.

Step 6. Complete the purchase

Complete the process of buying property in France by signing the sale acte de vente or acte authentique, or the final purchase-sale contract. This contract is signed within three to four months after the compromise de vente is signed. The seller and buyer sign it in the presence of a notaire, who acts on behalf of the French state to assist with legal procedures and draw up legal contracts. The buyer will pay the remaining balance during this stage.

Pitfalls of buying property in France

Buying property in France has pitfalls that foreigners must be aware of. Here are some of the pitfalls that you should know:

  1. Unexpected renovation costs: One of the pitfalls in buying property in France is unexpected renovation costs, especially when buying historical or old houses. When buying homes in France, always account for the renovation costs you may incur, especially if the property is not newly built. 
  2. Skipping the house inspection: The French real estate market can be highly enticing because of how they market their properties. However, do not skip the house inspection to ensure you get the property as advertised. Visit the property firsthand before making any financial decisions.
  3. Location limitations: French properties in rural areas appeal to foreigners, although these properties may have limited access to amenities and transportation. Foreigners buying property in France to rent out must also recognize the possible limitation for rental income due to the property’s location. Account for the property’s location and ensure it aligns with your purpose to avoid buying the wrong property.

Buy property in France with Own Property Abroad

Are you interested in buying property in France? Or are you considering purchasing land in France? Own Property Abroad can guide you through a smooth and effortless property acquisition process. Leveraging our deep understanding and local expertise in the French real estate market, we offer support with legal necessities, locating the right properties, securing the most favorable deals, and performing thorough due diligence.

With our experienced team by your side, you won’t have to face the complexities of the French property market alone. For more information on how we can help, please provide your details below or contact us at hello@ownpropertyabroad.com.

Talk to our French real estate agent
Leave your name and email below – Our real estate agent will reach out to assist you with buying property in France.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can the British buy property in France after Brexit?

Yes, the British can buy property in France after Brexit. Property ownership is under French control and not the European Union.

If I buy a house in France, can I live there?

If you buy a house in France, you can stay there for 90 days. For any stay exceeding 90 days, you must apply for a long-stay visa, which is easier if you already own a property in France.

Can Americans buy property in France?

Yes, Americans can buy property in France just like French and European citizens. 

Can you buy property in France without being a citizen?

Yes, you can buy property in France without being a citizen since France has no restrictions on foreign ownership of French real estate.

Can Australians buy property in France?

Yes, Australians can buy property in France just like French and European citizens.

Is buying property in France a good investment?

Buying property in France is a good investment due to France’s competitive real estate market and stable economy, which enable high returns on real estate businesses.

Written by Emmanuel Jason Casas

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