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.