House Hunting in France

There are many ways of finding homes for sale in France; the main methods are listed below:

– Newspapers & magazines – including the English-language publications, weekly French property newspapers such as De Particulier à Particulier, Le Journal des Particuliers, La Centrale des Particuliers and La Semaine Immobilière, national newspapers in your home country and France (if you’re looking for an expensive property), local magazines, papers and newssheets (which may have private property advertisements), property magazines published by the French estate agent chains (e.g. ORPI), and general retail publications (e.g. Daltons Weekly and Exchange & Mart in the UK); 

– Property exhibitions  – which can be useful provided you plan your visit, including:- checking that a show includes a reasonable number of exhibitors offering property in France – drafting a list of information to find and questions to ask – allowing plenty of time and visiting stands in order of priority;
– following up any useful leads and discarding irrelevant literature.

– The internet – where there are many sites devoted to French property, including those run by French and foreign property agents;

– Discovery tours – which are organised by a number of companies in various regions of France, allowing you to get a feel for an area and the type and prices of properties and maybe see a few properties that are available. For example, there’s Moving to France which currently organises property tours in Languedoc. However, these tours aren’t cheap and you may prefer to arrange your own itinerary (see below).

A new concept in house hunting is ‘virtual discovery tours’, whereby you’re enabled to ‘tour’ properties on DVD or even via the internet. One company offering this facility is Real Property Tours

– Visiting an area – note that around half of French properties are sold privately and the only way to find out about them is to tour the area you’re interested in, looking for FOR SALE (A VENDRE or sometimes simply AV) signs and asking locals or town hall officials if they know of properties for sale.

– Developers – some of whom sell direct, others via agents in France or abroad. Note, however, that developers needn’t be licensed to sell property.

– Property traders (marchands de biens) –

Excerpted from “Buying a Home in France,” (Survival Books) by David Hampshire

To order: Survival Books