Useful tips for buying your house
How you are going to use the property is probably the most important question - is it going to be a permanent home or a holiday house, how much time will you spend there - and who will look after it when you away.
We’d suggest that you write a brief with all the important things that you want the house to have and, if you can, to arrange these in terms of priority.
- where (in terms of geographic area)
- location (in the countryside or near a village – and how distant does the nearest neighbour need to be)
- how big (e.g. in terms of m² or number of bedrooms)
- amount of land (small or large garden/ hectares of land – and does pasture need to form part of this)
- condition (perfect, good, in need of decoration or a renovation project)
- budget (price plus Notaire’s fees – these ranging from 7% to 7.5% in most cases)
- any special requirements (e.g. ground floor bedroom, stables for horses)
A well considered list will prove invaluable when trying objectively to choose between houses, and will ultimately save you a lot of time.
France is a big country with a wide range of landscapes and environments. If you're not yet set on a particular spot, it’s worth being a tourist before you start looking at individual houses – and once you’ve found the area you like, then you can focus on your property search. In the Dordogne, Lot and Lot-et-Garonne there are some beautiful villages, wonderful countryside, rivers, forests, important historical sites - and lots of sporting activities. Access and transport links to any given house is often an important decision – especially if it’s going to be a holiday house or if you have lots of visitors from abroad
Village or countryside
Do you want peace and quiet or do you want to be near to a village or town? In practice, many village houses with gardens, so if you'd like some outside space you might prefer to be in the countryside. It’s also the case that most of the smallest villages no longer have shops, though you’ll find a good range of these in the larger communities
The Dordogne is a lightly populated department and though land is relatively inexpensive, if the property you like doesn’t have enough for your needs, it’s often difficult to acquire some more. It makes sense then to focus on properties which have all you need at the outset, whether it’s simply a garden or extensive pasture for horses. And if the property has more land than you need and it’s going to be a second home, will you have time to manage it?
Properties frequently need some element of work or updating – a new kitchen or bathroom for example. Are you happy to take on improvements like these, or would you prefer just to walk in? Perhaps you would like an even bigger project - though it’s worth bearing in mind the level of expense and time commitment this would require
How do you expect to fund the purchase - by cash, selling your own house, a mortgage or equity release on another property? It is important that you have a clear idea about which route you are going to follow before you start your search - not least since it is hugely disappointing to find the perfect house and then not be in a position to make an offer.
Remember that the system in France is largely chain free, requires you to commit up front and to have a cash deposit of 5 - 10% available immediately.
Shortly before completion, you will need to pay the balance of house price and notaire’s fees of around 7% of the purchase price (the bulk of which is stamp duty).
When will you be ready to make your decision and how quickly could you complete? Some of the finance questions are going to have an influence, and the process itself will take a minimum of about 3 months between agreeing the purchase with the vendors and completion
Find yourself a good estate agent
At La Porte, we've all been through the process of buying our own houses in this area. It is really worthwhile finding an agent who understands you and your needs - and can speak your language too. We are always pleased to help clients create and refine their brief - and dedicated to helping them find their ideal new home. Throughout the buying process, we are always on hand for advice and assistance - and happy to answer any questions you may have.