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Guide for buyers of French Property

Our advice on how to buy French property


  1. Choose your area first: You can always change a house but you can’t change where it is! Visit the areas you are interested in at different times of the year before you make a decision. Talk to the locals. Investigate local activities, restaurants etc… Check transport links.

  1. Make a list of what you want: Number of bedrooms, amount of land, village or country, proximity to shops, restaurants and bars, style, condition, out-buildings, pool etc… Know what your deal breakers are, but be prepared to compromise on the less important things – have confidence that, if you find the basic package, you can develop your ‘perfect’ home from there.

  1. Be clear about your budget: Make sure you have your budget and finances straight before we hit the road – as there is often a gulf between the quality of properties available within very small price bands.

  1. Be practical: Owning a property with 5 acres of land may sound wonderful – but would you prefer to spend summer days sitting on a lawnmower or in a deckchair?! If you buy more than 1000m² expect to need something to eat it; everything grows faster here than you could possibly believe – and the same goes for the veggie plot as for the lawn! Know the difference between privacy and isolation. You are in France – there is plenty of space to spare – but having to get in the car every day just to buy your bread may prove a trifle wearing some people – particularly if one partner doesn’t drive. If you have teenage children, think carefully about whether you really want to be in the middle of nowhere – a property in a small town will give them some independence and also allow them to make the most of their new French life.

  1. Do your homework: Once you have chosen your area and made a list of your criteria, look at the websites of the local agents of your choice. Compare prices and range of properties. Local agents should have an office – if not, who will you go to if you have a problem further down the line?

  1. Use your time well: We suggest you don’t choose just one house to view with each of a large number of different agents. Work with two or three carefully chosen agents and view a selection of properties with each. Build a relationship with your agents so they can really help you – even if you don’t find the perfect house on your first trip, they can keep in touch when the right property comes along and help you plan subsequent visits. You may be in the car with your agent for a few hours – make sure you have a list of questions you need answering; ask anything – and ask each agent the same questions, so you can compare how they respond!  It is important you choose the right partners and advisors to help you find your new property.

  1. Keep calm: Don’t jump at the first gorgeous, stone walled house you see. Consider how much work a property needs, what it will cost and the likely value of the property once it has been completed. Go back for a second – or third – look. Ask your agent to arrange quotes from a local builder if necessary. And, don’t forget to keep in touch with your agent while you are thinking about it so you don’t lose your dream property.

  1. When you are ready to make an offer: If at all possible go and do this in the agent’s office while you are still in France. It is a great opportunity to discuss a viable offer, the conditions of the sale, check land registry plans and have your questions answered about the buying process, French inheritance law, mortgages etc… If you are not in a position to do this while you are still in France – don’t worry! Contact your agent by mail or telephone – a good agent will still make sure that you understand the purchasing procedure and that you have all the answers you need!

How we at Maisons Rurales will help you

Buying a property in France is the culmination of a dream for many people. The process is fairly consistent, but the service provided by each agency is not. From our office in the centre of Montmorillon we will :

  • Treat you as an individual

  • Listen to what you want and advise you accordingly

  • Accompany you on all property viewings

  • Provide verbal translations as required and provide answers to all your questions

  • Negotiate a mutually satisfactory deal, including all minor details

  • Offer a dedicated office-based bi-lingual point of contact

  • Liaise with notaires and the necessary statutory authorities

  • Keep you fully updated with all developments during your property purchase

  • Provide a fully supervised legal liaison

  • Accompany you to the notaire’s office to sign the compromis de vente (initial commitment)

  • Not abandon you once the 7 day period of reflection has elapsed – we have an office where you can pop in to address any issues that come up during the purchasing process

  • Accompany you to the notaire’s office to sign the acte de vente (final purchase contract)

  • Assist with foreign exchange, mortgages and transfer of utilities

  • Be available afterwards as a point of reference – our clients still come in to see us many years after the completion of their purchase


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