Useful tips for buying your house in Dordogne, Lot and Lot-et-Garonne
How are you going to use your French home?
This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. Is it a permanent home or a holiday house? How much time will you spend there - and who is going to use it? We would suggest that you write a brief – a wish list – with all the important things that you want the property to have, and in terms of priority - but probably best to limit yourself to 6 or 7 items.
- where (the area)
- near to civilisation (quiet countryside or near a village or neighbours)
- how big (eg with 3 bedrooms)
- amount of land (garden/land/acres/hectares)
- condition (perfect, a bit of finishing or a renovation project)
- budget (price plus Notaire’s fees)
- any special requirements (eg ground floor bedroom, or stables for horses)
You will find this invaluable when trying objectively to choose between houses.
France is a big country with a wide range of landscapes and enviroments. If you're not yet set on a particular area, it’s worth being a tourist first - before you start looking at individual houses. In the Dordogne, Lot and Lot-et-Garonne there are some beautiful small villages, wonderful countryside, rivers, forests, important historical sites - and lots of sporting activities. Find the area you like, and then look for your house.
Access is often an important decision – is it near Bergerac airport for example. This is especially important if it’s going to be a holiday house or if you have lots of visitors from abroad.
Village or countryside
Do you want peace and quiet or do you want to be near to a village or town? In practice, many small villages don’t have houses with gardens, so if you'd like some outside space you might prefer to be in the countryside.
We have a lot of space here in the Dordogne, and land is relatively inexpensive - but if the property you like doesn’t have enough for your needs, it’s often difficult to acquire some more. Would you like to have a small or large garden? - perhaps even fields for horses? But, returning to the first point (how are you going to use the property?), will you have time will you have to look after the garden or manage the land?
Often properties need some element of work or improvement – kitchen and bathrooms for example. Are you happy to take on projects like that - or do you prefer just to walk in? Perhaps you would like a project – it can be fun, but will take time and money to realise. And you should budget for slightly higher costs than in the UK too - so we would advise that you investigate these before committing yourself.
How do you expect to fund the purchase? - by cash, selling your own house - or do you need a mortgage? It is important that you have a clear idea about which route you are going to follow before you start your search - not least since it is hugely disappointing to find the perfect house and then not be in a position to make an offer.
Remember the system in France requires you to commit up front, and you need to have a deposit of 10% available immediately.
Shortly before completion, you will need to pay the balance of house price, the agency fees and the Notaire’s fees (which include tax and stamp duty) and these will be between 6 - 7% of the purchase price.
When will you be ready to make your decision - how quickly could you complete - and when would you like to move into your new house? Some of the finance questions are going to have an influence. The process in France takes normally about 3 months between signing the compromis (the first contract) and completion (the signing of the Acte de Vente).
Find yourself a good estate agent
At La Porte, we've each been through the process of buying our own houses in this area. It is really worthwhile finding an agent who understands you and your needs - and can speak your language. We are always pleased to help clients create and refine their brief - and dedicated to helping them find their ideal new home. Throughout the buying process, we are always on hand for advice and assistance - and happy to answer any questions you may have.