A guide to the French residence permit, covering who can apply, how to apply, how it works and costs.
Own a holiday home or investment property in France, and thinking about selling up? Or perhaps you live in France, and plan to move to a different area.
Whichever is the case, read on. We’ve put together a complete guide to selling property in France, covering everything you need to know. This includes seller’s fees and taxes, legal requirements and a step-by-step guide to the selling process.
We’ll even look at how Wise can help you transfer the proceeds of your French property sale back to the UK, while saving money on fees and exchange rates.
After a strong few years, the French property market has experienced a slight slowdown in the later part of 2022 and into 2023. There has been a drop in property transactions, and prices have fallen in some areas.¹
One suspected reason behind the slowdown is the fact that it’s become harder to borrow in France, with mortgage rates almost doubling recently.¹
During the last quarter of 2022, prices in some major French cities fell by up to 3%. But in others such as Nantes, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg and Bordeaux, the opposite was the case and prices rose.¹
So ultimately, whether it’s the right time for you to sell depends on where your property is located.
Now, let’s dive straight into the process of selling a property in France, so you’ll have all the info you need to get your home on the market.
It’s not obligatory to use an estate agent in France. Estate agent fees can be quite high (more on that later), so you can potentially save money by selling your home yourself. You can make use of online listing sites and real estate portals.
However, you may want to take advantage of the local knowledge and specialist expertise of an estate agent. They’ll also handle viewings, some negotiations and other key tasks that may not be possible if you don’t actually live in France while selling your property.
If you do want to use a property agent (agent immobiliers), the best way to find one is a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. Otherwise, find one that is a member of a professional association such as the FNAIM, NPI or UNPI. In France, all agents immobiliers have to be licensed, insured and hold a carte professionnelle.²
One of the more onerous parts of selling property in France are the statutory surveys and checks you need to carry out.
These are known as the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT). The DDT covers a full range of tests, including:³
- Lead and asbestos
- Gas installations and electrical wiring
- Septic tanks (if applicable)
- Energy efficiency
- Natural or industrial risks.
All of the relevant DDT tests need to be carried out before the property is sold. The only exception is the energy efficiency survey, which must be carried out before the property is marketed.³
Now it’s time to get your property onto the market and start attracting buyers. Your estate agent should handle most if not all of the advertising activity, but private sellers will need to make sure they list their property in as many places as possible.
Here are some of the most popular real estate websites in France:
The notary (notaire) is a vital part of French property sales. They act as the conveyancing solicitor, making sure all the paperwork and procedures are done according to the letter of the law.³
The notaire usually acts for both buyer and seller. You can also choose to get your own property solicitor to advise you, but the state-appointed notary will still be an integral part of the process.
Be aware though that the notaire may only speak French, so you may need the services of a translator or an English-speaking solicitor to assist you.
Once you’ve accepted an offer from a buyer, an agreement to purchase (Compromis de Vente) will be drawn up. This is done by the the notary.⁴
When the contracts are signed, the buyer pays the deposit, to be held by the notary. This is usually around 10% of the sale price, although it’s not unheard of for the deposit to be as low as 5%.⁵
As the seller, you have a legal requirement to disclose all hidden defects, easements and restrictions, tenancies, licences and planning consents related to the property.³
The final step in the selling process is to arrange a meeting (at the notary’s office in France) to sign the final purchase document, the Acte de Vente. All parties should be present, and once the agreement is signed - you’ll hand over the keys and the legal ownership of the property.⁴
The notaire will arrange for the balance of funds to be paid to you. We’ll look at how you can best transfer this amount to your UK bank account via Wise in just a moment.
The time it takes to sell a home in France can vary. Although unfortunately, it is likely to take longer than you expect due to the weight of bureaucracy and paperwork required.
Although it might happen quicker, you can expect it to take around 3-4 months⁴ before the Acte de Vente is finally signed. This doesn’t include the time it takes to find a buyer, so you’ll need to factor this in.
Now we come to the important question - how much will it actually cost you to sell a property in France? Below, we’ll run through the main fees and taxes you need to know about.
The key costs you’ll pay to sell a property in France include the following:
- Estate agency commission. If you choose to use an agent, you can expect to pay anywhere between 6-10% of the sale price in commission. However, there is room to negotiate, and it may be the case that this fee is paid by the buyer.⁴
- DDT costs. It’s your responsibility as the seller to book and pay for the statutory diagnostic tests, which can vary depending on how many surveys need to be carried out.
The good news though is that the notary’s fee of between 6-8% is usually paid by the buyer, unless you agree otherwise.⁴
When you sell a home in France, you’ll need to pay capital gains tax. Known as impôt sur les plus values in France, this is due to the profits of selling a property or land.
You’ll have to pay it if the following apply:³
- You’ve owned the property for less than 22 years
- It’s your second home (not your main residence)
- Your property or land is sold at a price over €15,000.
The tax made up of a flat rate of 19%, plus an extra 17.2% in social charges. This means you could end up paying a rather hefty 36.2% in plus values on any profits you make from the sale.³ So, make sure you factor that into your sale costs, as it’s a biggie.
Once the deal is done, you’ll need to work out the best way to transfer the proceeds from your French property sale.
If you don’t live in France, you’ll need to send the money back home to the UK. Use your bank to do this, and you could lose out to high transfer fees and poor exchange rates.
Luckily though, there’s an alternative solution available. Use Wise to send money between the UK and France and you’ll get mid-market exchange rates and low, transparent fees.
And it could save you a bundle compared to using certain banks.
And that’s it - everything you need to know about selling property in France. It’s not the easiest or cheapest process, thanks to high taxes and the mountains of admin involved.
But hopefully after reading this guide, you should have a better grip on how it all works.
With a little preparation and paperwork, you’ll be ready to put your French property on the market. Bonne chance!
Sources used for this article:
- Property Guides - French Property Market Update
- Properstar- How to find a real estate agency in France
- FrenchEntree - The Cost of Selling a Property in France: Taxes, Fees, & Surveys
- French Estate Agents - A guide to selling your French property
- French Property - Contract Conditions when Buying Property in France
Sources checked on 10-Oct-2023.
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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