Practical tips for buying a house in France after Brexit
Are you are eligible to buy a property in France?
While moving to France has long been a common dream for overseas property hunters, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has created a few potential issues. There is uncertainty over whether the process will be as straightforward in the near future for British citizens post-Brexit.
However, there are currently no restrictions on foreign property ownership in France and buyers from non-EU countries. Recent Brexit negotiations have also agreed a transitional period until 31st December 2020 for the UK in its exit from the EU, with an agreement to protect the right of British people living in Europe post-Brexit.
One potential impact that Britain leaving the EU could have on buying a property in France is that mortgages could become more costly. Some non-EU purchasers are deemed higher risk by lenders in the country than those from inside the EU.
Whether British buyers will fall into this ‘higher risk’ category once the UK finally completes its divorce from the European Union remains to be seen.
However, given that British borrowers are the largest single overseas nationality borrowing from the French retail banks, the likelihood is that French authorities are not going to want to lose British property purchasers at a time when confidence is returning to the French property market.
Identify why you want to buy a property in France
Are you looking for a holiday home in France? A property with investment potential? An abode to live in at a later date? Your own individual reason for your property purchase should play a huge part in your investment decision.
If you’re looking for a property with investment potential, research which areas have property markets that have performed consistently well in previous years. Check out whether there are any events happening that could lead to increased demand for property.
Likewise, if you are seeking a holiday home in France, take a look at the climate for the area in which you wish to buy, and try to find out exactly how busy your desired location is during peak and off-peak seasons.
Check you can live in France post Brexit
Before moving to France, it seems sensible to check check if you are able to live in the country. EU residents from any member state have the automatic right to reside in the country. However, with the UK set to leave the EU completely in the next two years there is no guarantee that British citizens will be allowed to stay in France indefinitely under the Freedom of Movement Act – as is currently the case.
They may need to apply for a visa to remain and a Blue Card to work in the country. Preference to EU citizens in terms of job opportunities may also be exercised, so much is likely to depend on the outcome of the exit negotiations as to how British buyers will find the legalities and practicalities of living in France.
Set a budget for your property in France
It’s important to have an idea in your mind of how much your property will cost before moving to France. Bear in mind the property cost in total and how you will be paying for it. A clear idea of budget helps you set specific goals and will mean you can make the most of any funds you have available to you to find the right property.
Buying property in France could mean you will have to exchange your currency to Euros. As currency markets move all the time and are very sensitive to political and economic events – something that seems to be making the headlines constantly these days – it’s important to be aware of how currency exchange rate movements affect the price of your property and the whole buying process.
Beware extra charges and hidden fees before moving to France
Beware additional charges when buying a property in France. You should typically allow 7-10 per cent of the purchase price to cover all taxes and fees (however, this can be as low as 2-3 per cent if you are purchasing a new-build property). Never buy a property in France without seeking legal advice first.
While the internet is undoubtedly an invaluable tool for research, there is nothing quite like checking out an area for yourself. A fact-finding trip is almost essential prior to purchase a home.
You can see for yourself what the neighbourhood is actually like; get a feel for the place; check out how close it is to the local amenities and public transport.
Just because an agency may say that the house is located minutes away from the beach, doesn’t mean it definitely will be. It’s the agency’s job to make the property look good; it’s your job to check that it really is as good as they say.
Halo Handy Hint
As exchange rates move so quickly, it’s important to understand the impact this can have on the price of your property and to protect any currency exchanges you make while currency markets are in flux. With this in mind it is worth looking at currency specialists, such as Halo Financial, as opposed to banks, as such firms almost always offer far superior exchange rates.