There are no special restrictions or conditions for foreigners buying property in France, and a significant number of apartments in Paris are sold to expatriates or non-French residents or visitors. All categories of homes and properties are available to foreign buyers.
For financing, you may approach any French bank which handles mortgages (almost all of them do); the banks below are accustomed to dealing with, and even have mortgage plans specifically for, foreign buyers.
- BNP Paribas International Buyers, Multiple locations in Paris, 0800 169 8470 to contact a multilingual advisor, http://www.bnpparibas-pf-french-mortgage.com(English version available)
- Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier, 4, rue du General Foy 75008, 01.42.68.43.30, http://www.bpi-online.net
- HSBC, Multiple locations in Paris, +33 (0)810 2 4 6 8 10, https://www.hsbc.fr(English version available)
- French Mortgage Xpress is a service that will analyse your needs, research options and recommend a specific lender for your mortgage. They are based in the south of France, but work with buyers all over the country. http://www.frenchmortgagexpress.com (Website in English)
French mortgages may be at fixed or variable rates and are usually run from 15-20 years; average rates are between 2.5%-3.45%. Note that it is rare to find funding for 100% of the purchase price; far more common is to be funded for 70-80% of the final price. A particular quirk of the French mortgage system is that the age of the buyer affects the length of the mortgage, and that older buyers will be approved for shorter-length mortgages. Normally banks will ensure that your mortgage payments do not exceed 33% of your monthly income.
If you do decide to buy, make sure that when you decide upon a property, you sign a “compromis de vente” (contract). You will make a down payment of about 10 percent which commits both buyer and seller. This contract allows you 3 months to find a mortgage and finalize the purchase. Make sure you do not sign an “offre d’achat”, which commits the buyer but not the seller. Expect to pay about 10 percent of the purchase price in closing costs.
The criteria to purchase property in France is very similar to the system in place in many other countries; namely you will have to offer proof of net worth, income and credit-worthiness. The process is the same for foreign buyers as for the French, but may take longer due to obtaining and translating the necessary documents (employer statements, letters from your home bank. etc). Having already established residency in France and having opened a French bank account, would be great advantages in expediting this process.
The purchase process is quite straightforward. All sales are overseen and completed by a “notaire”, a type of lawyer who deals with real estate and family law. The notaire, usually working on behalf of both parties, researches, prepares, and signs all documents. Even if you speak very good French, find a bilingual notaire. You can contact the Centre d’Informations de la Chambre des Notaires de Paris at 12, avenue Victoria 75001, 01.44.82.24.00. They have an extensive website in English which not only refers notaries, but answers questions about the entire process. http://notary-paris.co.uk
The main risk to foreign buyers outside of the Euro zone is any possible fluctuation in currency, which may significantly increase your mortgage to income ratio. As all French sales are overseen by a lawyer, and oversight of the mortgage system is quite strict, there is little additional risk.
For general information in English on how to buy property in France, the following websites may be useful: