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.

Buying property abroad can be hard but is especially harder when considering the current political impasse. After the prime minister, Boris Johnson, received the Queen’s approval to suspend parliament for five weeks from early September, in a move that has been criticised as “profoundly undemocratic” and “sinister,” Brexit continues to be one of the thorniest issues in the UK.

Brexit and expats

This is why, when thinking of moving abroad, British retirees might need to firstly research and understand the complexities of post-Brexit life outside the UK.

What would a long-term residency mean, or what would be the changes to pensions for Brits abroad. For example, it is unclear whether transfers to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme will be tax-exempt post-Brexit. Additionally, for anyone considering buying property abroad, the biggest issue is currency volatility and its impact on international money transfers. Once you decide to buy your property and want to transfer funds to pay for your property, you don’t want to find that your hard-earned money was significantly affected by the movement of the pound due to Brexit developments.

What to consider when deciding to purchase a property

Researching and understanding local laws regarding buying a property should be one of your first steps. The process of buying a property abroad will be different from place to place, with specific laws and regulations for foreign residents buying property. If you would like to invest in a property abroad to let it afterwards, you should most likely follow the same steps, and research the laws about renting. You don't want to spend a large sum of money on a property that will be chained to a set of rules and limitations, something that will eventually hurt your funds. While you might be looking at European countries such as Spain and France, you might as well do your research regarding other countries where housing prices, the pound's exchange rates, and the local laws are most favourable to you.

Buy to let

Investing in a property abroad that you can also let is a way to increase your income, so deciding the right location and price, and understanding its potential and rental yield are important factors. If you are unsure, discussing this with mortgage brokers, financial planners and accountants might help you decide on whether this is a good investment.

When you deal with tenants, it will be good to have a mediator such as a property manager, who will help you find the right tenant and organise maintenance issues. As long as you are prepared to maintain a property abroad and make it attractive to tenants, then you would also be prepared to pay the costs regarding maintenance and renovation.

Buying a property

Once you have decided on a property, you need to make sure that all papers are in place and all processes are transparent. Get receipts and documents to prove your transactions or agreements and never leave anything to chance. You must always get the title deeds to the property or land, so you know that you own what you have paid for. Also, you need to be aware of any outstanding utility bills or local tax from the previous owner of the property.

If you require financial help to purchase your property, you can get a mortgage, but first do your research and find the right mortgage lender for you. You will need specific mortgage from a bank that supports your chosen country. As it is a competitive market, there are lots of options for you, so get the right solution to meet your own borrowing needs.

Transferring money

When you’re buying property, you’ll need to transfer money overseas. Universal Partners FX is a leading foreign exchange specialist that can assist you with your international currency transfers and save you significant amounts of money on large transfers. UPFX will provide an affordable way to transfer money overseas and protect your funds from foreign exchange risk. Get in touch today to find out how much they can save you on your international money transfers.