How to buy or sell your primary or secondary residence in France?

Find out what you need to know when buying or selling your property in France, depending on whether you are a resident or a non-resident.

If you are a non-resident: how do you buy/sell your main or second home?

Even if you are not resident in France, you can still buy - or sell - a property in France. French law will govern ownership, as well as taxation in terms of rental income and capital gains in the event of resale.

If you are buying a property in France, you should be aware that intermediaries (banks, credit institutions) are required to confirm the transfer of funds and may require documentation to confirm the origin of these funds. The notaries must also check and confirm the source of funds to prevent money laundering.

Good to know

Foreign buyers may purchase in their own name or set up a company to purchase the property.

Here are the main steps in a property transaction:

  1. Step 1: Defining your project: size of property, geographical area, services required: you need to determine what criteria is the most important to you.
  2. Step 2: Finding the right property. You can consult classified ad platforms or estate agents, but you can also submit your file to one or more estate agents in your search area. This way, you can be warned in advance of "off-market" or new opportunities.
  3. Step 3: You make an offer to purchase the property of your dreams. This written offer must include essential information, such as the address and characteristics of the property, and the suspensive condition of obtaining a mortgage if you intend to take one out.
  4. Step 4: You sign a promesse unilatérale de vente (or compromis de vente). As French law applies, the foreign buyer has a cooling-off period of 10 days after signing this document. This is followed by a period of 2 to 3 months, which allows the notaire to clear the various compulsory administrative deadlines and prepare the final deed of sale. 
  5. Step 5: Signing the final deed of sale at the notary's office and handing over the keys. 
  6. Step 6: Receipt of the final deeds. Once the deed has been signed, the transaction must be registered with the Land Registry. It is only after all these steps have been taken that the buyer receives the final title deeds (usually in electronic form, in PDF format). In the meantime, they will receive a notarised certificate of ownership to enable them to complete all the necessary formalities.
  7. Step 7: You pay your taxes. In terms of taxation, taxpayers who are not resident in France may be liable for the “Impôt sur la fortune immobilière” (IFI) on property held in France. There is also a local tax called “Taxe foncière” for all property owners.

In the event of re-sale, it is possible to benefit from the non-resident's capital gains exemption on the sale of a main residence when the main residence is sold no later than 31st December of the year following the departure from the country including transferring tax status to the new country of residence. Another case of exemption is possible for just one home and for a maximum net taxable capital gain of 150 000€. In other cases, the capital gains is subject to tax at a rate of 19%, plus social security contributions at a rate of 17.2%. Non-residents may also be subject to an extra tax on capital gains exceeding of 50 000€, as well as a tax on sales of land that has become suitable for building.

Good to know

In the event of the purchaser's death, French law will no longer be applicable. Since 17th August 2015, and in accordance with the European Regulation of 4th July 2012, the law of the country in which the property is located has been replaced by the law of the purchaser's country of residence in terms of succession.

If you are a French resident: all you need to know for your property transaction.

As a French resident, the transaction is carried out under the same conditions as for a non-resident.

If the property is sold, the transaction is subject to capital gains tax. However, it is possible to benefit from an exemption in certain cases. For example, a main residence is fully exempt. There are also allowances depending on the length of time the property has been held.

To find out more on this subject, don't hesitate to contact a lawyer or notary, who will be able to advise you on the various stages of your property transaction, whether you are a non-resident or a resident.

Why do you need a French bank account with CA Britline?

  • To pay the deposit. It is usually between 5 and 10% of the total sale price. This helps to reassure the vendor about the buyer's solvency. This deposit will be deducted from the sale price when the final contract is signed. 
  • To make the final transfer. The notary will need to receive the funds before the signing of the deed of sale.
  • To set up your direct debits. Your French bank account with CA Britline will allow you to pay your bills (electricity, gas, internet, French taxes etc.) without thinking about them.
  • To benefit from our 25 years of expertise in English. Our friendly team of bilingual English-speaking advisors can assist and help you with any of your plans in France. 
  • To make the most of your account in France. We have designed a range of services tailored to our customer needs: debit cards, different banking packages, a currency exchange solution to offer secure transfers and great rates to our customers, a banking app in English etc.

Any questions? Please feel free to request a call to talk about your project in France.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Copyright Uni-médias - Last updated February 2024.
Article for information and advertising purposes. The information in this article is provided for information purposes only and Crédit Agricole declines all liability in connection therewith. It is in no way intended to replace the reader’s own knowledge and expertise. You are strongly recommended to seek professional advice.
Image used is provided by Getty Images.
First published: 22nd May 2024