France Real Estate
Magnificent Real Estate and Property in France
If you're in the market for European real estate, then you will find France real estate attractively affordable. France is a predominantly rural country, so if you have notions of restoring a cottage, a farmhouse, or even a château, there's an ample supply of real estate for sale in France for you to choose from
French Real Estate Agents
French real estate agents (agents immobiliers) are strictly regulated. They must be in possession of what's called a carte professionelle, which can be issued only by the agent's local authority upon producing evidence that the immobilier has a minimum bond or guarantee with respect to the deposit of monies received from property buyers. More than 8,000 French real estate agents belong to FNAIM (Fédération Nationale de l'Immobilier), a recognized professional body. FNAIM can provide you with a list of member agents in your chosen area. The organization's website has a comprehensive list of agents as well as a database detailing properties available in any given area. The FNAIM network includes some expat English real estate agents who have relocated to France. Obviously, the British house-buying system is not the same as that in North America, but these agents are used to answering questions-in English-about how the process works for buying real estate in France. If everything is new to you, and you're unsure of your French language skills, these agents can help you open a bank account and get set up with gas, electricity, and telephone companies. French real estate agents can do the same, but not all speak English.
The Supply of Real Estate in France Will Not Suddenly Dry up--so Don't Rush in
The first rule is of buying real estate in France is: don't rush in. Unless your heart is set on a home in the more popular areas of Provence, there are more than enough French castles, farmhouses, and village houses on the property market for everybody. The supply is not going to dry up suddenly, so take your time. Visit a range of different properties in France to get an idea of French real estate prices. Clearly, you want to get as much maison as possible for your dollar. And note: it's quite acceptable to make an offer. Away from the really high-profile areas, houses often sell for less than their listing prices. In France the business of conveyancing (the buying and selling of property), is handled by a certified real estate attorney-un notaire. A notaire is first and foremost a public official responsible for ensuring that all deeds are authentic and of incontestable value. You will have to appoint one to act for you. Because they are personally responsible for the contracts drawn up, they must be objective in the advice given-and must act with impartiality toward the various contractual parties. Consequently, the same notaire often acts for both vendor and purchaser. Although engaging your own notaire isn't strictly necessary, it is in your best interest.
Buying French Real Estate
Buying real estate in France is not a difficult process. In most cases, the procedure is completed within two to three months:The agent will draw up an initial contract of sale, or a compromis de vente. Remember, unless you are completely au fait with the process, we recommend that you get your own lawyer and/or an independent notary to look it over before you sign it. Although the compromis de venteis the most commonly used contract, there are other types of preliminary contracts also. It is vital you remember that there is no standard form so you must be sure about what you’re signing—and especially sure that it contains any necessary conditions suspensives. These are conditions that, if not met, render a contract null and void and entitle the prospective purchaser to recover his/her deposit. For example, the preliminary contract could be conditional upon the prospective buyer being able to arrange a loan to purchase the property. The promesse de venteand promessed’achatare two other options, both of which constitute a commitment to sell or buy. In the case of both these contracts the other party is not legally bound. On the other hand, the compromis de venteis a binding agreement that fixes the price and obligates both the vendor and buyer to come to an eventual completion. However, with a promesse de venteor a promessed’achat, a buyer who decides to back out won’t lose his/her deposit, although they could be subject to a claim for damages. The same applies to the vendor. If he/she pulls out of the sale, he/she can be liable for compensation up to an amount equivalent to the buyer’s deposit.
*Prices as of 2013
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Owning a French vineyard is the ultimate dream for many expats—and it’s easy to see why. From Burgundy to Bordeaux, France’s vineyards lie in some of the most beautiful areas of the country and have produced extraordinary wines coveted throughout the world. To live in such an idyllic setting, drinking wine from your own grapes and playing some small role in wine’s ancient story, is a concept that’s both thrilling and gratifying.
It’s a quiet day in late June on the beach in Deauville. As I walk along the water’s edge, golden sand crunching beneath my toes, it almost feels as if the mile-long beach is all mine. Tranquility reigns right now, but a change is coming. Near the boardwalk, row after row of multi-colored beach parasols, elegant as Ralph Lauren models, are standing as ready as soldiers.
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Pundits are divided on whether Spain’s property market will see further price falls. A huge overhang of unsold homes remains, but for the first time in seven years, sales in Málaga province showed an increase in 2013. Spain will always be a popular retirement destination for northern Europeans, and the number of U.S. citizens registered as living in Spain has increased, too.
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I have never felt spring emerge the way I have in Aix-en-Provence. In April’s infancy, the plane trees were ghostly bare and the shoppers at the outdoor markets were still bowing to the wind, heads down and tucked into their beautiful French scarves.
In the popular imagination, it’s the great capitals of Europe that get the most attention. Tourists flock to Paris, Rome, Madrid, and London for the big-city flair, museums, and monuments. It’s the thing to do. And granted, you should seize any opportunity to stroll the Champs-Élysées on a beautiful spring evening or explore London’s international cuisine and regal parks.
“Gascony’s the real France,” Jean-Jacques said. “Everywhere else—it’s another country.” Jean-Jacques, a local farmer, was leaning from his tractor—behind him, a bright field of sunflowers and the 18th century farmhouse my parents call home. His sun-beaten face squinted down at me. “Gascony is the hidden jewel of France—it’s our best kept secret.”
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If you want to increase your future returns while reducing your risk, you should add some emerging-market stocks to your portfolio. It may surprise you that adding riskier, emerging-market assets to a portfolio will reduce overall risk, but it shouldn’t. These markets do not move in lockstep with the U.S. market, which hit a series of all-time highs in the fourth quarter of 2013.
In medieval Europe, keeping an eye out for and guarding against invasion—a frequent occurrence in those days—was no easy feat. But one of a nobleman’s greatest defensive weapons was a castle perched on a rocky hilltop near an important mountain pass. The location itself—surrounded by steep cliff—offered protection.
It’s impossible to escape the geese in Sarlat-le-Caneda. Images of these plump birds adorn shop windows, and products of all kinds are decorated with the likeness of the animals that have been adopted as the unofficial mascot of the area. Often known simply as Sarlat, this town with a population of about 11,000 is in the center of the Dordogne region of southern France. Sarlat offers big-city convenience and activities packaged in a small-town setting that make it a delightful location to visit…
There are those who adore Paris but could think of nothing worse than living in the city center. Romanticism aside, Paris is a big city—and an intense one. After living here awhile, you start to notice that the streets are endlessly thronged. Scooters and motorcycles gun through the streets day and night. And most reasonably-priced apartments are about the size of a walk-in closet. The best way to revel in the advantages of Paris…
The small, pretty town of Chantilly is less than 30 minutes from Paris by train, but when you arrive at the station and take a lungful of fresh air, the big city couldn’t feel farther away. Chantilly (pronounced shahn-tee-yee) lies in the Oise department of France, 24 miles north-northeast of Paris. It is both the name of a town of 11,000 people, and of a larger commune that comprises several other towns and villages, bringing the total population to 36,000.
Think you can’t afford to retire in the South of France? Think again. While it’s true that unless you’re fairly wealthy, you should cross places like Cannes, St. Tropez, and most of the pretty medieval villages of Provence off your list, there are still a number of south of France towns, villages and cities, particularly in the Languedoc-Rousillon region (my favorite), that offer a highly enjoyable lifestyle for a reasonable price.
If you’re a die-hard lover of Paris, there’s probably no possible place on earth to live except in a sweet, 19th-century apartment in Montmartre that offers a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Or among the teeming cafés near the Bastille. Or in the glamorous neighborhoods surrounding the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
The accepted story goes that as humankind progressed over the millennia, we abandoned our cave shelters in favor of constructed homes. But plenty of folks still live in dwellings carved out of volcanic rock, into mountains, rocky hillsides, cliffs, or quarries. And they aren’t living a primitive life in caveman-style homes, either (though they are referred to as “troglodyte” homes).
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For thousands of years skiing was just a way to travel in winter, carry mail and goods to snowbound towns, or—believe it or not—charge into battle. Then in the mid-19th century the first races took place and before long enthusiastic amateurs had taken up the sport.
France is nice, I guess. Lavender fields and a vast wine country surely hold a certain appeal. But it’s Italy that captures the heart and feels like home. My cousin bought a house in a lovely little village in southern France, but when she comes to Basilicata, Italy she feels a pang of regret. How could she not, with so much home-spun seduction enveloping anyone who sets foot in the region?
Mi dispiace, France. I’m sorry. It’s no contest. Even in your rainy-day Brittany region, you can’t come up with a two-story house that a buyer could move into for 18,000 euro ($24,000). We can. It’s not a doll’s house either—there’s 1,290 square feet of living space.
It was a grey Saturday morning in December when we got the knock on the door we’d been dreading. It was the mail carrier delivering a registered letter from our landlord.
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Oak floors, chandeliers, large fireplaces, and exposed wood beams are things you’d expect to find in a chateau. And this perfect country getaway in Normandy has them all. Built in 1881, it’s set on five acres and surrounded by a mixture of lush green pastures and the forest of Eu. There’s a fruit orchard and the Yres River runs through the property, with a bridge leading to a private island.
For many people, the word “Burgundy” usually brings to mind either a deep purple-red color or an excellent bottle of wine. Here’s what comes to my mind… Fairy-tale woods, winding trails, velvety-brown cattle sitting heavily in the grass, nipping at clover. Springtime hills draped in lemon-yellow blossoms…
At 129 square feet, this apartment is what real-estate agents call “cozy.” But it’s Paris, city of love and romance. From your fifth-floor balcony you have a view of Place de la République. The square gives its name to the historic neighborhood that surrounds it, where the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements (districts) come together. Le Marais, where some of the oldest buildings in the city line winding, narrow streets, is just a five-minute walk away.
Southern France isn’t only a dream-turned-reality for seriously wealthy buyers. Not if you target lesser-known locations. The problem—if problem is the word—is that there is a tremendous amount of south. Without months to spare, uncovering it all is impossible. But here’s one solution.
Roman arenas and triumphal arches suggest Italy. Bullﬁghts and paella sound remarkably like Spain. But they’re as much a part of France’s sunny south as lavender ﬁelds and bouillabaisse. So, too, are village houses for $100,000 to $187,500. Southern France isn’t only a dream-turned-reality for seriously wealthy buyers. Not if you target lesser-known locations.
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Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes doesn’t resemble any fishing activity I’ve ever seen. But it’s fun seeing reproductions of art works displayed where they were painted. All along the French Riviera and into the Provencal back country of hill towns, vineyards and flower fields, I kept coming across spots on the region’s Painters’ Trail.
Provence in France. Saying its name evokes memories of sun-drenched hills, starry nights, and the scent of sea-salted rosemary and thyme. Birds sing in olive groves, bees drone in vineyards, flowers spill from terracotta pots. In villages with crinkly-tiled roofs, lizards scurry into niches just as their lizard ancestors did in the Middle Ages.
Provence. Saying its name evokes memories of sun-drenched hills, starry nights, and the scent of sea- salted rosemary and thyme. Birds sing in olive groves, bees drone in vineyards, ﬂowers spill from terracotta pots. In villages with crinkly-tiled roofs, lizards scurry into niches just as their lizard ancestors did in the Middle Ages.
Most tourists give Paris’s 12th arrondissement a miss. But a lack of showpiece landmarks and museums doesn’t mean lack of character. East of the Bastille, this mostly residential neighborhood offers an intriguing taste of Paris without the clichés. Stretching from the Bastille to Place de la Nation, Faubourg Saint-Antoine is one of the 12th’s principal shopping streets.
Although southern France comes with a medieval legacy of troubadour poets, I never expected to see a poetry shop. But there’s one in the harbor town of Cassis. Framed and written on marbled paper, there are over 4,000 poems on love, life and friendship to choose from. Dominated by a fortress castle and with a back garden of vineyards, Cassis is the unhyped Riviera…
From rosé wines to summer sunflowers, there’s nothing gray about France’s sunlit south. If you love art, history, kind weather and good food, the pleasures of Provence are almost endless. And what’s more, the Mediterranean is its playground.
France Real Estate
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