Buying your home in France might mean taking up a euro mortgage if you do not have the savings to finance your dream. If you do require a loan, you should start early so you know you have the finance and can plan with confidence your expenses whether that is for the kind of property you can afford or other related costs. Starting early, means you can research and find a mortgage with a more favourable borrowing rate, rather than planning it late and compromising with something less ideal. Especially, when it comes to purchasing a property abroad, having your finances in place means that you will be a more appealing candidate to those searching to sell their house rather than if you were still looking for a mortgage.

Mortgages

Buying in France is considered a good investment due to the country’s healthy economy. If you are borrowing from a French institution, bear in mind that you will be allowed to borrow one-third of your total gross monthly income. If you do not have a stable monthly income, it will be very difficult to secure a loan, as salaried employees and especially those working for the same employer the last three years are preferred.

For a French mortgage, you can get variable or fixed rates from 1.50%-2.50% and deposit 15% to 25% of the property’s purchase price. The maximum for a repayment loan is 85% with 25 years maximum term, or 75% maximum for an interest-only mortgage and 15 years maximum term. Interest only requires the client to have a lot of assets and is more difficult to obtain. The minimum for a loan is usually around €150,000.

Fixed- or variable-rate?

While a fixed-rate mortgage might offer the security of standard and consistent payments, it is usually more expensive than a variable one whose rate fluctuates depending on the movement of interest rates. This means it can be to your benefit or go against you, making for example a monthly payment of €400 increase to as high as €600, even though this is rarer. In France, most mortgages are fixed-rate ones.

Life Insurance

Apart from getting a building insurance, which your bank might also arrange, you will also need life insurance, again also a product that can be offered by your bank. This depends of course on the lender and the value of the mortgage. Life insurance will guarantee that you can repay the loan and in some cases you might be asked to provide further documents such as a general medical examination certificate or blood analyses. If you are travelling regularly, your bank might also request to sign a document where you explain where you have travelled the last 24 months, or where you will be travelling the following 24 months, so they know your life is not threatened.

While you have the option to borrow from a UK-based bank, this won’t be easy and going to a French bank is the usual option with different banks having their own criteria.

Getting in touch with a French lender that specialises in offering mortgages to British expats might save you a lot of time and aggravation, as they will tell you exactly the requirements and help you get the best possible deal.

Use a currency specialist

Similarly, getting in touch with a specialist currency broker will also save you lots of money in the long term. Transferring sterling to euro can cost you bank fees, whereas a currency transfer specialist such as UPFX will do so without extra costs while offering you competitive exchange rates.

If you are a British buyer, and want to save money while buying your dream home in  France, now is the time to get in touch with your currency broker. A currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can help you navigate the current market while taking into consideration your specific needs, goals and your budget.

Buying property overseas can be a stressful experience especially after the spread of the coronavirus and European countries’ lockdowns. However, you might not need to postpone your dream of buying a house abroad, as agents, notaries and lawyers have found new ways to respond to the situation.

Viewing a property

While you cannot be present materially to view your dream home, as countries such as Spain and France are on a state of emergency, many agencies continue to serve their clients through virtual tours and other online materials as an article in the Financial Times has pointed out. French agency Leggett Immobilier  state on their website that are open for business but can’t offer property visits. What they do offer, though, for the moment, is “a mix of videos, virtual tours, floor plans and additional photos.” They say that their agents are available to speak with clients through the telephone or video conference, and vendors willing “to do facetime or skype visits with you online.”

Proof of ID

While many viewings might have been postponed due to travel bans, agents and notaries are completing most paperwork online with the use of digital signatures, scanning and emailing documents or customers giving power of attorney (POA) to their lawyers. As the French agency says, their clients can give a “power of attorney” so they “don’t need to be physically present at either exchange or completion” when they purchase a property. While individual notaries might “have different interpretations of what is currently acceptable,” they note that clients’ agents will be able to clarify the current status of any purchase they have made.

According to Leggett, purchases continue with notaries accepting proof of ID by e-sign software such as web portals DocuSign and Yousign, without needing certification by a notary in the UK. The use of video conference and video links can also be used so that the notary can see the clients in real time signing the documents.

It is believed that the use of electronic signature in signing contracts remotely will continue and become more widespread over the coming weeks, especially when clients have already viewed the property and have already agreed on a price prior to the lockdown.

Flexible Dates

If you have already found your home and are in the middle of completing the purchase, then using a flexible completion date can ensure that the sale still progresses smoothly for both parties. Solicitor at My Lawyer in Spain Alex Radford says that they are suggesting a future completion date of at least two months which should be included when signing the documents. “There needs to be a clause inserted that states ‘completion will be by ‘x’ date or earlier by agreement or later if the parties or their legal representatives cannot attend completion due to Covid-19 crisis,’” he says. Radford clarifies that only documents of an urgent nature are signed, while other legal work is postponed, according to the notary’s criteria.

Agreeing on a flexible date is important, as this will guarantee securing your funds and progressing with the purchase. The FT article notes that having a “‘safety-net’ clause that allows buyers to pull out if they cannot secure a mortgage,” or extending target days will protect buyers as well as sellers who fear that their property might be devalued after the coronavirus.

If you are in the process of buying your dream home, there is no reason to panic. Jacqui Reddin, Head of Sales Development at Beaux Villages, says that staying in touch with your agent and remaining informed is the best way to move forward. She clarifies that they “are still actively dealing with ongoing sales and even have new ones since lockdown. The buying process is bound to take a bit longer, but if we all stay connected things will start to flow more smoothly.”

In regards to financial concerns over transferring your money abroad or currency exchange, keeping in touch with your currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can give you peace of mind and help you navigate the unexpected volatility of currency markets. If you want to schedule ahead and safeguard your funds, talk to one of their foreign exchange experts today.

Buying property in France is a big commitment, considering the complexities of Brexit and living abroad. Despite, however, that the UK is leaving the EU, Brits continue to buy homes in France for permanent residence or for visiting during their holidays. For the Brits who already own a house in France, the same rules will apply, but after Brexit, different property regulations might apply for non-EU members.

What to do in the meantime?

If you are moving to France or already living there, you should register as a resident and also for healthcare. Make sure that your passport is valid for travelling.

Residency

Currently, you can still apply for a European carte de séjour at your local prefecture, as préfectures will continue to accept applications and issue EU cartes de séjour to UK nationals. After Brexit, however, and despite having your European carte de séjour, you will need to get a different residence permit depending on your situation. For example, you could be a UK national waiting for French nationality or a UK national married to, or in a civil partnership with, a French national.

In the case of a no deal Brexit, and after the new system is launched, UK nationals who have lived in France for at least five years and have a permanent carte de séjour will be able to exchange it for the new card easily.

Buying property in France

Rural France is of course much cheaper than Paris or popular areas such as Lyon or Bordeaux. Dordogne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Toulouse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Brittany are some of the areas particularly popular among British expats. In the Dordogne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, for example, an average property price is €111,000. However, when you are interested in cheaper properties, you should look at more rural areas such as Nièvre, Burgundy-Franche-Comté. There, the average property price is €85,400, whereas in Indre, Centre-Val de Loire, an average property price is €80,000. In Creuse, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, one of the cheapest departments in France for property an average property can cost around €66,000 and in Cantal, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, you can get a property for €86,500.

What to consider before purchasing

Before buying your dream home abroad, you should consider a few things. First, you will need to think about who is buying (wife/husband) and what happens in the case of the owner dying. Then is the important issue of financing your move and buying the property, which can also mean borrowing funds or selling your property back in the UK.

It is significant that you take your time before signing any binding contract, so you understand the terms and conditions, the property itself and your rights. Find out as much as you can about the property, its surrounding area and any pending development plans that might alter the landscape, your property’s views or its future price.

For building a property, or for any renovations, make sure you have a planning permission or immediately consult an official from the relevant department. Your architect or engineer should be able to direct you accordingly. French land is classified according to the kind of planning zone within which it falls, and it can range from NC (non-constructible), through NA and NB on to UB and other urban classifications. This means that its classification will determine the amount of floor space which you will be allowed to build on that land.

Currency matters

Other very important considerations are transferring funds to buy your property and choosing a reliable foreign exchange specialist for doing so. Currently, anyone buying property abroad will find that the pound to euro exchange rates continue to be unpredictable.  Risks of a notable decline in the pound due to fears of a no deal Brexit continue. On Wednesday, this was mostly felt after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that he won’t be asking for an extension to Brexit if Parliament does not pass a Brexit deal on 19 October.

With the currency market continuing to be volatile, the best option is to get help from an expert currency broker such as Universal Partners FX.

UPFX can assist you with your international currency transfers, making the process easy, fast and cost-effective. Whether you will need to make multiple transfers or a large currency transfer, a volatile and unpredictable market can significantly affect the value of your funds, especially when exchanging it into foreign currencies. Get in touch with them today to find out how they can help you.

No-deal Brexit might loom on the horizon, but this has not deterred many Brits from buying or considering to buy property abroad.

When it comes to Brexit, the latest release of a government document outlining “reasonable worst case scenarios” in the case of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, has left many shocked. While the government resisted the publication of the so-called Operation Yellowhammer document, the six-page document which is dated 2 August and was leaked to the Sunday Times last month, warns of a three-month disruption at Dover and other channel crossings, public disorder and shortages of fresh food.

Buying in France

While the political landscape in Britain is chaotic, with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looking more threatening day by day, many Brits are considering moving to France.

As the British parliament is trying to stop a no-deal Brexit, many European countries, including France, Spain and Germany are preparing for Brexit.

The French government and customs authorities will test a period before Brexit to judge the preparedness of companies in the case a no-deal Brexit. According to Gerald Darmanin, the French minister in charge of overseeing the customs agency, French companies which conduct their business in Britain will have to present their plans online, make their declarations to customs officers and open up their shipments to inspectors.

He explained that countries doing business with Britain should be prepared to deal with the country as if it was “South Africa.” He also explained that, “For a month, we are going to act as if there is Brexit for a large number of companies. We’re going to put in place a sort of general rehearsal, so that we are ready at the end of October.”

With more than 4 million trucks going through the northern port of Calais every year, businesses have been used to frictionless trade without having to deal with customs controls and borders. For this reason, many fear that a no-deal Brexit would cause chaos at the borders creating uncontrolled traffic. In this respect, customs officers' numbers will increase by 700, while the customs agency is practicing all through September to prepare.

Residency rights for Brits

According to The Local, France will launch a new online platform in October so that Brits can apply for their carte de séjour residency permits. The French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, stated: "The Ministry of the Interior will launch an online registration platform for British nationals living in France in October." The website will be in English and Brits will be able to complete their application online, scan in all relevant supporting documents and then receive a receipt for their application, with only one in-person appointment for fingerprints. This appointment can be done at préfectures, sous-préfectures or local mairies. Some prefectures have closed applications as they don’t know yet what will happen with Brexit, while others are processing applications within weeks. The online application system can be used by Brits already living in France on the day of Brexit.

The French government and the British embassy have advised British residents in France, living there for more than five years, to apply for cartes de séjour residency permits.

After Brexit, all British people will apply for residency rights, in the same way that third-country nationals do. While a no-deal Brexit will allow for a one-year grace period, applications should be sent within six months of Brexit day. On the other hand, if there is a deal in place, there might be a transition period until December 2020. For those who already have a carte de séjour permanent they will be able to exchange it after Brexit. More information is regularly updated on the French government’s website.

Kalba Meadows from the British in Europe citizens’ rights’ group said: "We were given to understand last year that there would be a centralised application platform, and this was confirmed in the table produced by the European Commission in June, so while it's not 'new news' for us it's good that a timeline will now been put into place so that the process can begin as soon as possible. It's going to be a mammoth task processing applications from up to 200k Brits in France. As ever, the devil is in the detail though - and we understand that although applications will be made on a central online platform they will still be processed by individual préfectures, many of which will struggle to meet the demand without extra resources.”

For the French government a no-deal Brexit is the most likely scenario, with officials expecting an economic slowdown.

Universal Partners FX

If you are considering buying a property abroad amidst Brexit preparations and uncertainty, you should also be prepared and secure your funds. If you don’t want to worry about currency volatility and future exchange rates, you could fix your rate today. Universal Partners FX can help you hedge your funds, get access to the best exchange rates and transfer your funds fast, securely and cheaply. Give them a call today to find out more about international currency transfers and saving costs.

Buying property in France or Spain has recently been complicated due to Brexit. For many Brits already living there, there are still many questions, a lot of them related to health and access to medicine. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit overcomplicates things too. Let’s see what a no-deal Brexit involves and what it means in terms of health for the many Brits who already live or want to move there.

What is a no-deal Brexit?

No deal means that the UK would leave the European Union (EU) without any agreement about the status of their future relationship. In a matter of fact, it would immediately be left out of the single market and customs union, and consequently lose its privileges of trading between EU members without complex checks and tariffs (on imports). But this will also have a massive impact on other facets of our lives steeped in European institutions and regulations. We will leave the European Court of Justice and Europol, its law enforcement body, and lose our membership of many other EU bodies including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) responsible for the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products. 

While Theresa May has strived to pass her Brexit deal through Parliament, a deal which would at least ensure that the UK would be guaranteed a 21-month transition period to organise the situation and have time to negotiate a trade deal, this is now not the case. On the contrary, with PM’s Boris Johnson’s declarations of leaving the EU with or without a deal, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is back on the table.

No-deal Brexit

Leaving without a deal means that the 1.3 million Brits living in the EU are suddenly left in a very complicated situation. By crashing out of the EU, means leaving behind the institutions that have for all these years protected us and given us security, health insurance and various other agreements that benefited us and guaranteed our smooth stay abroad.

If you are going on holiday, the government has advised that you buy travel insurance before you leave. However, if you are living abroad, Spain has already agreed to guarantee continued healthcare access to tourists and British expats until the end of 2020, provided that the UK grants Spanish living in the UK the same rights.

In France, things are more complicated, especially for those that spend six months of the year there. Both British and French governments have advised British expats to apply for a Carte de Séjour residency permit, however, many prefectures have halted applications until Brexit becomes clearer.

According to The Local,  both governments are willing to come to an agreement on healthcare as many French people live and work in London, and many Brits live and work in France. Unfortunately, no bilateral talks can officially begin unless Brexit has happened.

For many Brits, the idea of facing medicine shortages and feeling totally helpless is a nightmare. Many have said that, diabetics are stockpiling supplies of insulin by giving themselves less on a daily basis” to avoid dealing with shortages in the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. As Euractiv reported, “many of Britain’s 3.7 million diabetics, who include Prime Minister Theresa May, depend almost entirely on insulin imports from continental Europe.The hormone, which is usually produced by the pancreas, helps diabetics regulate their blood-sugar levels. A no-deal Brexit would almost certainly mean re-establishing customs and health controls, which could lead to delays at the border.”

But as the UK, Spanish and French governments are willing to alleviate any problems and help European residents and expats get the healthcare they need, they will hopefully be no problems in the case of Brexit.

As you are deciding to buy property abroad and worry about currency volatility and political events such as Brexit that cause unpredictable market movements, it is a good idea to get in touch with a foreign exchange expert and discuss your money transfer needs. Universal Partners FX have years of experience in the foreign exchange industry and can offer assistance when making regular payments abroad and sending large amounts of money internationally.

Moving to France

Buying a property in France can be a massive commitment, especially in times of Brexit uncertainty. However, if you make the right decision, the rewards will be plenty for you and your family. This is what you need to know about the property market.

A robust property market

Unlike other countries that have been hit by the global economic crisis, France has managed to retain a healthy property market, attracting international investors, with a stable year-on-year price growth.

According to online news outlet for expats, Expatica, “in the last quarter of 2017, prices increased by 3.3% year-on-year, with older apartments (4.5%) leading the charge. The biggest increases came in Paris, where second-hand properties increased in price by 5.1% in the last quarter of 2017 and 8.6% year-on-year. So far in 2018, prices have remained robust, though transaction levels actually fell slightly, with 42% of banks reporting a drop in loan applications in February 2018. France’s property market upturn since 2015 has largely been fuelled by low mortgage rates, which in February 2017 remained very low – at just 1.61% in February 2018.”

With inflation beginning to increase at a stable level in 2018 and a weak euro, foreign buyers “can get a more attractive exchange rate for their property investments and essentially pay less for a property than compared to recent years.”

Rent first, buy later

No matter where you are considering to buy, it is always beneficial to gain a better understanding of the place and what it can offer you, all year around, by renting the property first. This will help you experience the different times of year and get a clearer idea of the possible disadvantages of the property and its surroundings.

How to search for property

When you approach a realtor, or agent immobilier, you need to make sure that the company is registered and has financial guarantee, liability insurance and license by the prefecture de police. To help protect your interests, the French government has created the Conseil National de la Transaction et de la Gestion Immobilières (CNTGI) in 2014, to maintain ethical practices and regulations for real estate agents. Once you found the right realtor for you, you will sign a bon de visite, which will demonstrate that you have viewed specific properties.

Location, location, location

France has 21 regions, so you will see variations in prices and different properties. Property prices are usually determined by location.

Paris and other big cities are more expensive, as they offer more employment opportunities and a more cosmopolitan lifestyle with a variety of entertainment and cultural events to choose from. Less expensive are properties in the city suburbs and small towns, but beware, wine growing regions, naturally, are pricey. So the price will increase with such luxuries as swimming pools, vineyards and romantic barns. If you are dreaming of that scenic stone house in the countryside, with vines climbing on the walls, then this will be cheaper than a very modern building with all the relative conveniences. According to Expatica, the eastern side of France has seen some important price falls, but possibly prices will start rising again slowly.

Costs to consider

Finally, it would be good to bear in mind, that there are extra costs beyond the property price that you will personally have to settle. As property agents French Connections warn, “Having found your ideal French property at what seems like a very reasonable price, it can come as a bit of a shock to those used to the UK market that the buyer may have to pay the agency fees and is responsible for all the legal fees – this can make your French house up to 20% more expensive than you first thought.”

Once you know what is included in the asking price and other costs you will need to pay, you might be interested in getting a tailored solution for transferring your funds from the UK. Brexit uncertainty and a volatile pound can affect your finances significantly. Universal Partners FX can offer invaluable support and guide you through the process, recommending the most optimal time to transfer and exchange your currency, giving you peace of mind. Get in touch with UPFX now and find out how much you will save through a foreign exchange broker.