Buying Real Estate in Paris
It can be frustratingly difficult to find good real estate for sale in Paris at reasonable prices.

There is no comprehensive listing of properties for sale – up to 40% of sales are for sale by owner – and there are around 3,500 agencies.  Only by doing a thorough search can you be assured that you are buying the best property available, at the best price, and optimizing your time on the ground in Paris.  Normal French agencies do not provide this service, and you could search months or years and not achieve the same result on your own.

We help make buying an apartment in Paris easy…

Once we’ve found the right property, we do due diligence to ensure that there are no negative surprises, negotiate hard on your behalf and connect you with all the resources you need through closing and beyond, so that your purchase process is simple from start to finish.  An added plus – when you work with a licensed agency the fees are tax deductible when you sell.

Our clients tell us we save them time and money – and that they couldn’t have done it without us.

Client stories
It was truly a great experience!
Read the story
Long distance love affair: clients find and finish a Paris apartment, then see it for the first time
Know before You Buy
  • What are the necessary steps for purchasing a property in France?

     

  •  

    What is the role of the notaire?

     

  •  

    Are there more/less tax advantageous ways to purchase a property in France?

     

  •  

    What about a property inspection?

     

  •  

    Are there other arrangements to make at the time of purchase?

  • Who pays the broker fees, the buyer or the seller?

     

  • What is the difference between a compromis de vente and a promesse de vente?

     

  • Is it possible to finance property in France?

  •  

    What costs and fees must be paid on a property purchase in Paris?

     

  •  

    How is the purchase completed, and must I be in France for the final signing?

     

     

  • Who is committed to what at the signing of the preliminary contract?

     

  •  

    Are there home owners association fees to pay for building upkeep and management?

  • Can I move money into and out of France freely?

  • After I have settled in, what are my continuing obligations?

     

  •  

    Why should I choose PPG to help me buy a property in Paris?

     

What are the necessary steps for purchasing a property in France?

The essential purchase process is divided into two stages. The purchase is first formalized by a preliminary contract that may be prepared either by a notaire – a promesse de vente – or by an estate agent or privately between the parties – a compromis de vente.

In either case, the seller is obligated to sell immediately upon signature, whereas the buyer has a 7-day period of reflection during which he can withdraw from the purchase without any financial penalty.

The sale is finalized with a formal deed of sale, the acte de vente. Regardless of the form of the initial agreement, the signing of the acte de vente is overseen by a notaire.

Once the preliminary contract is signed, it is ordinarily between two to three months until the acte de vente is signed. During this time, the buyer obtains any needed financing, and the buyer’s notaire verifies good title to the property and takes care of other legal and administrative requirements surrounding the sale.

At the signing of the acte de vente, the buyer pays the purchase price plus all taxes, fees and commissions, the keys are handed over by the seller, and ownership of the property passes to the buyer. From the signing of the preliminary sales agreement to the final closing, the process generally takes between two and three months.

What is the role of the notaire?

The notaire is a public official with legal training (but different from a lawyer) who prepares and registers official acts such as wills and property ownership transfers. Notaires enjoy a very privileged and highly respected position in French society.

In the context of property sales, while the preliminary contract can be prepared by either the notaire or the estate agent, French law requires that this deed of sale be prepared by and signed by a notaire. The notaire plays a vital role in the closing process:

  • Ensuring that the property being sold matches the title deeds and registry documents 
  • Establishing the identity of both parties (with the help of birth and marriage/divorce certificates) 
  • Ensuring that the seller is indeed the owner of the property to be sold 
  • Ensuring that there are no covenants other than those already mentioned in the preliminary contract that might adversely affect the property 
  • Searching the Land Registry with a view to establishing whether there exist any restrictions to the right of disposal of the property, such as easements or mortgages over the property 
  • If the property is mortgaged, ensuring that the purchase price will be sufficient to redeem the mortgage completely 
  • Obtaining from the local Town Hall a planning certificate showing the planning rules relevant to the property 
  • Informing any person or entity with preemption rights of the impending sale, so that they may decide whether they wish to purchase in the place of the buyer. In some areas of Paris, the city government has a right of preemption on any property sale. 
  • Calculating and collecting the stamp duties or purchase taxes, commonly known as “notaire fees”. A detailed breakdown of the notaire fees is provided below.

A notaire is different from a lawyer, since his primary role is to ensure that the transaction is legitimate and that the official requirements have been met. A good notaire, of course, is also an advocate for his client’s interests. 

One notaire can represent both parties in the transaction, or each party can have their own notaire. The total fee is set by law and paid by the seller,  regardless of whether there are one or two notaires involved. Having your own notaire is usually advisable.

Are there more/less tax advantageous ways to purchase a property in France?

There are several options for structuring the property purchase:

  • in your own name
  • in the joint names of you and your spouse or co-purchaser(s);
  • in the names of your adult children or of someone who will eventually inherit the property from you;
  • through an ordinary limited company, whether foreign or French;
  • in the name of an SCI (société civile immobilière), a company specifically structured for owning and managing properties in France. 

Each method has its own advantages; the best structure depends on your own personal circumstances and your intended use of the property. For example, SCI’s are only allowed to rent out their properties unfurnished; so if you are looking to do furnished rentals, that is not the right purchase structure.

It is important to address the ownership issue early on and to purchase correctly, because substantial fees and taxes are assessed any time the property changes hands or if you change your holding structure. In this regard, if you create the right structure so that a property passes smoothly to your inheritors without “changing hands,” your inheritance tax savings can be substantial. 

Having the right information and choosing the right ownership structure is the key to maximizing the potential of your property investment.

What about a property inspection?

Property purchase in France requires the seller to provide to the buyer the results of 8 required diagnostic examinations of the property:

  • loi carrez – precisely defined measurement of the surface area of the property
  • presence of lead
  • presence of asbestos
  • presence of termites
  • condition of the electricity installation
  • condition of the natural gas installation
  • assessment of the quality of insulation, gas emissions, etc. (graded on an energy index)
  • presence of any natural/environmental risks (for example, flood zone)

These tests are performed by companies that certify their results; if they prove to be incorrect, you will have recourse for compensation.

However, they are informational: the seller has no obligation to correct any problems that are revealed. It is thus important that you read and understand the tests, so that you can make an informed decision whether to purchase.

You can also choose, at your own cost, to have the property you intend to buy surveyed. However, additional surveys are ordinarily not performed and, particularly in Paris, ultimately prove to be of limited use. A survey may be advisable for properties purchased outside of Paris or other metropolitan areas, particularly of independent houses, as their condition may be less certain.

Are there other arrangements to make at the time of purchase?

All property in France is governed by French inheritance laws, which include certain forced inheritance provisions. Particularly for buyers without children, or with children from previous marriages, it is worth consulting an attorney and possibly drafting a separate will to govern inheritance of your property in France.

You will also want to establish homeowners insurance on the property and its contents that should be effective as of the date of close. 

Once the purchase is complete, you will want to have utilities transferred to your name, and set up telephone, Internet and other services. If you want the building management company, the syndic, to send you quarterly statements and other information overseas, you will need to get in touch with them to let them know your home address.  Paris Property Group will take care of these arrangements for clients as part of our start to finish service.

It is customary, as well as convenient, to set up automatic debit of these bills directly from a French bank account, so that you are not struggling to keep up with bills from afar.

Who pays the broker fees, the buyer or the seller?

Agency fees are included in the listing price that buyers see for a property. Listing fees are ordinarily about 5%. The purchase is ordinarily structured so that the buyer pays the seller and the seller pays the agency out of his total. But, it is also possible for the purchase contract to separate the two, with the buyer paying the seller his net price and the agency fee separately. 

The advantage to most buyers of this second option is that they do not then pay notaire fees on the agency commission amount; a significant savings. But, for non-resident buyers who need the maximum possible financing, banks often will not finance the agency fee if it is paid in this way. 

Since there is no loss or gain either way to the seller, the buyer should be aware of this issue and ask for the structure that best suits his needs. 

What is the difference between a compromis de vente and a promesse de vente?

A compromis de vente is a mutual obligation of the buyer (to buy) and the seller (to sell). Literally translating as “a promise to sell,” the promesse de vente is a unilateral obligation to sell. 

There are two substantial drawbacks to a compromis de vente:

  1. If the buyer chooses not to complete the purchase, he can be sued for specific performance. While ordinarily the seller will just take the good faith deposit and resell, the agent – who stands to lose their fee entirely – can and may sue to recover their commission.
  2. If the buyer ultimately decides to purchase through a company structure, or wants to add a co-purchaser, there is a risk that this substitution will be considered a second “sale” of the property subject to double the taxes. 

Most importantly, the promesse de vente is drafted by your notaire, a legally trained authority on property transactions. Signing a compromis runs the risk of being poorly drafted and resulting in consequences the buyer (and/or seller) did not foresee. Our advice is always to sign a promesse if possible or, if not, to have a notaire review the compromis during the 7-day period of reflection, so that you can retract without consequences if need be.

Is it possible to finance property in France?

French banks will lend up to 85% of the assessed value of the property and renovations to most non-resident buyers. French banks respect a very strict loan-to-income ratio for issuing mortgages, although some are more flexible in considering assets and investment income. Mortgage rates can be fixed or variable rates or a combination of the two. French banks require borrowers to obtain life insurance to guarantee the loan.

If the buyer is seeking a loan in France, the preliminary contract will include a conditional clause for financing. The clause sets out the intended loan amount, rate of interest, and length of the term. If the buyer cannot obtain a loan on terms at least as favorable as those specified, he is released from the obligation to buy the property without penalty.

Note that with higher priced properties, the seller may choose a buyer who does not have a conditional clause over one who does. So, agreeing to waive this conditional clause can be a real point of negotiation. Also note that, if you will be seeking financing only outside of France, the conditional clause will not protect you.

It is advisable to be in contact with banks or a mortgage broker at the start of your property search, so that you know what your borrowing capacity will be and will have all your documents ready once you have found the right property.

What costs and fees must be paid on a property purchase in Paris?

The buyer should normally expect to pay fees and taxes of about 6.5-7.5% of the purchase price. These break down roughly as follows: 

  • Land Registry taxes (known as TPF – Taxes de publicité foncière) of approximately 5.1%
  • Miscellaneous expenses – calculated according to various documents that the notaire must search and examine in order to draft the deed of sale. They usually amount to less than €700. 
  • The notaire’s service fee, set at 0.825% for properties over €16,800. The fee is subject to VAT (value added tax) of 19.60%. If each party is represented by their own notaire, that fee is split between the two.  

How is the purchase completed, and must I be in France for the final signing?

Prior to the final signing, the notaire will send the buyer a completion statement showing the balance of the purchase price and all other fees and taxes required to complete the purchase. The buyer will need to get those funds into the escrow account of the notaire in time for the date fixed for the signing of the deed of sale, the acte de vente.

The buyer can either be physically present to sign the acte de vente, or arrangements can be made for a Power of Attorney to enable another person to sign on the buyer’s behalf. 

When the acte de vente has been signed, the notaire distributes the funds to the respective parties: the purchase price to the seller, the taxes to the state, fees and charges owed to the building management, commissions to the real estate brokers, and keeps the amount of his own fee. 

Who is committed to what at the signing of the preliminary contract?

Whether the parties sign a compromis de vente or a promesse de vente, the preliminary contract will always contain the following terms:

  • The agreed purchase price.
  • Any conditions for completion of the sale, including the minimum acceptable terms for financing if the buyer will be seeking a mortgage. The party to whose benefit any conditional clause was written will be released from the contract if that condition is not fulfilled.
  • The final (last possible) date for signature of the acte de vente.  

Upon the signing of the preliminary contract, a good faith guarantee of 10% of the purchase price is paid into the escrow account of either a notaire or an estate agent. The buyer may be able to negotiate putting only 5% down, but will in any case responsible for the 10% if he defaults.

The buyer will lose the good faith deposit if he fails to meet his obligations to purchase the property in accordance with the timing and conditions set out in the preliminary sales agreement. Acting in a timely manner to secure your loan and to arrange your final payment at closing is important to ensuring that this problem does not arise.

Are there home owners association fees to pay for building upkeep and management?

Apartments in Paris are sold as condominiums, with each owner in the building owning and sharing in a proportional amount of the building dues based on the proportional size of the apartment. 

The amount of the building dues will vary depending on the number of apartments and the relative size of your apartment (which determine your proportionate ownership of the building), as well as the services and amenities in the building: an elevator, a live-in concierge, a courtyard with flowers that need tending, collective water and/or heating are some of the factors that will play into the amount of the dues. 

The fixed quarterly dues take care of insurance, taxes, and the regular maintenance and upkeep of the building amenities, as well as the service fees of the syndic, or management company. Any special maintenance or updating – a roof that needs to be redone, refurbishing the façade of the building, or adding an elevator – are voted on by the owners at an annual meeting, or at a specially convened meeting if the need is urgent or if a particular owner wants to bring a point up for order outside the regular annual meeting. Any special projects that are approved by the owners are paid for by special assessments, which are similarly accorded in proportion to your share ownership of the building.

On average, an apartment of about 80m2 will have dues of between 150 to 300 euros per month. Dues are paid on a quarterly basis.

Can I move money into and out of France freely?

Yes. But, exchange rates can be prohibitive if you are moving money from other currencies. If your home currency is not Euros, working with a currency exchange service is key to getting favorable exchange rates on transfers, mortgage payments, and other financial needs. 

If you take out a mortgage in France, you will be required to establish a French bank account for your monthly payments. Even if you don’t, most utilities and other French services can be paid by automatic debit if you have a French bank account, so most owners establish one regardless.  

After I have settled in, what are my continuing obligations?

Property owners who spend less than 184 days a year in France and do not pay income taxes in France are considered “non-resident.” Non-resident owners are expected to: 

  • pay property taxes (“taxe foncière”);
  • pay occupancy taxes (“taxe d’habitation”), unless you have a long-term renter in the property, in which case this tax is their responsibility;
  • pay income tax on any income deriving from activities in France (including rental income from the property).

Why should I choose PPG to help me buy a property in Paris?

There is no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Paris. With over 3,500 agencies in Paris alone, finding a property is a difficult task for resident or non-resident buyers. A comprehensive property search requires visiting scores of agencies, scanning websites, and pursuing numerous listings in each individual neighborhood.  What’s more, about 40% of the properties in Paris are sold directly by the owner. Visiting those properties is yet another challenge.  

Paris Property Group’s approach is comprehensive. Working one on one with a search consultant, you access all the best properties on the market, and are assisted with the evaluation, selection, and negotiation. Listing agents represent the seller and do not have an incentive to look after your interests.  That is where we can really be of value to you, saving you not only time, but money. See a sample property report here.

After we’ve found your perfect place, we manage the entire process through to closing.  We oversee the signing of the preliminary purchase agreement, then we help you find all the resources you need — mortgage lenders, banks, renovation and decorating experts, legal and tax advice.  After the purchase is complete, we set up your utilities, telephone, building management communications and homeowners insurance, all to ensure your smooth transition from property buyer to property owner. 

Another important factor to consider:  Paris Property group is a licensed real estate agency, unlike many supposed property search agents in Paris,.  We carry the requisite insurances and real estate licenses to protect your interests. From an investment perspective, unlicensed “search consultants” fees cannot be included in the purchase agreement, and ultimately are not included in your capital gains basis when you sell the property. Most importantly, when you work with an unlicensed agent, you are not protected by the French real estate laws and regulations that protect you against their errors, missteps or misrepresentations.  Your investment is an important one.  Don’t trust it to just anyone.

Property search service is a professional activity governed by French law regulating real estate sales. Paris Property Group is fully licensed, bonded, and insured, in accordance with the law.

Paris By Neighborhood
1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20

Paris: 1st arrondissement

The heart of Paris, the first arrondissement is home to some of Paris’ most celebrated historic sights, including the Tuileries garden, the Louvre museum, and the Palais Royal and its gardens. Walking through this elegant neighborhood, especially down the rue Saint Honoré with its high-end designer shopping and trendy restaurants and cafés, is a luxury Parisian experience. Filled with grandeur and history, the 1st arrondissement is also one of the most expensive in the city.

carte_arrondissement_01
1st_pyramid-of-louvre-at-night
Average price: €10,551/m2; + 5.3% over 1 year; + 55.1% over 10 years

A small apartment in this historic neighborhood remains costly. In the most coveted neighborhoods – from the Tuileries gardens to Palais Royal and around the Banque de France – apartments are particularly hard to find and can easily fetch top prices for the best properties.  The average price is 10,551 € and can vary between 7,727 € et 14,448 € depending on the address.  

Current Market Price — 1st arrondissement

Neighborhood Price/m2 in euros
Low Medium High
Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois € 8,629 € 11,915 € 17,970
Les Halles € 7,335 € 9,896 € 11,909
Palais-Royal € 8,200 € 11,803 € 14,266
Vendôme € 8,157 € 11,964 € 15,625

Choose another arrondissement

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20
Buyers resources
Contact us
By phone
In France +33 (0)9 75 18 18 99
From the US (917) 779-9950
By Fax
+33 (0)1 72 70 38 69
By Email