So far, we’ve seen 6 houses, 15 apartments, 5 realtors and sent countless emails. Our house hunt is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier for what the future has in store. While the quest is a little daunting, I’m far from exhausted although I have to say that I’m getting impatient. I WANT A HOME TO MAKE OURS. LIKE YESTERDAY.
Anyway, curious about the differences between buying a house in France versus the U.S.? Or just curious about what properties look like in France?
I have two things going for me. I’ve never purchased a home and I’ve never searched for a home in another country. So needless to say, these two things combined have made for some really fun conversations with Tom, the realtor(s) and friends and family.
“What do you mean it doesn’t come with a kitchen? Wait, the toilet is in a separate room from the sink? There are no appliances? HOW many realtors are you working with?”
And those questions are just the beginning when it comes to buying a house in France! Learning about the differences is all part of the expat experience!
Buying a house or apartment?
And what about a house vs. apt? We haven’t decided yet which one is right for us, although all things considered, a house is probably better for us if money weren’t a major factor. There are plenty of pros and cons to each, but there’s one con to buying a house that has us a little worried – the isolation factor. I’ve written before on how it can be lonely being an expat and if we’re in a house, I won’t even have my elevator or building hallway conversations with our neighbors. Not that I’m friends with anyone in our building, but there are small conversations here and there. In a house, although it would be relatively central in the town, the likelihood of talking to people during the day is slim to none.
Some facts about buying a house in France:
–In France, the buyer pays notary fees which range but are usually about 6-8% of the home’s total cost. Sometimes they are negotiable.
–A specialized notary handles the transaction. Fees are government regulated and property transactions usually go smoothly. Notaries have specific French property law training and they write up the compromis de vente (purchase agreement) and final sales deed. All real estate transactions in France require a notary.
–Interest rates on mortgages are very reasonable at the moment, so yay for that.
–Many listings are exclusives, so it’s nearly impossible to work with one real estate agent and expect to see properties listed by different agencies.
So am I picky? Not really! I giggle when I watch reality home buying shows or hear from house hunting friends about the “problems” with properties they’ve seen. They’ll say the kitchen was too dated or the paint was ugly or the bedrooms are just too small.
In our case, we’re just happy when the place we’re looking at HAS a kitchen! I’m not exaggerating.
You see, in France, it’s typical to find a bare kitchen with little more than a sink. Most home owners take their appliances with them and in many cases, properties don’t have a “real” kitchen with cabinets unless the owner installs one. They are becoming more and more common, though.
When it comes to what properties look like, well, it’s hard to say because like the U.S., there is a lot of variety. In the area we live, town homes are really common in the town center and then single family homes can also be found. There is new construction as well as old. It’s very diverse so you can find pretty much anything from modern, energy-efficient homes to early 20th century town homes that have been completely gutted to everything in between.
Interested in seeing what some properties look like? There will be a post on that next week…
For a good deal of money, you can get a beautiful move-in ready place in a great area. But at our budget? Well, we have to compromise. And that’s fine by me because the hunt is part of the fun. When I say compromise, little cosmetic things are just the beginning. We’re talking about possibly having to install new windows, rerun electricity and plumbing and of course a handful of cosmetic preferences to update the place — none of which come cheap. But we’re persistent and know we’ll find something within our budget that doesn’t require a floor to ceiling overhaul. Do we really want to live in a place that requires a lot of updating? We won’t have the money to do it all at once, so is it really a step up to move from something that doesn’t meet our needs to something that is bigger but still doesn’t meet our needs?