Buying a house in the South of France is a fantastic opportunity to make your dreams of retiring or owning a holiday home abroad become a reality. However, there are numerous things that need to be taken into careful consideration when you begin the process of purchasing a property. 


To ensure your purchase goes through smoothly, it’s important to know what problems you might come across when buying property in France. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you navigate the common challenges you might experience when you buy a house in France. Let’s dive in. 

Additional Costs

Of course, the biggest expense you’ll encounter will be the price tag attached to the French property itself. However, there are additional costs to consider when buying a property in the South of France – so it’s important to do your homework and budget accordingly. 


As well as the mortgage, you’ll need to factor in estate agent fees (which aren’t necessarily included in the sale price of French homes), surveyor fees, and fees coming from the notaire’s office. Notaire fees cover both fees and taxes, and vary according to the sale price and age of the property


Approximate fees payable, excluding TVA (VAT) at 20%, at different sale values are as follows:


Table showing fees for buying a house in the south of france

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Exchange Rate

Another area where overseas buyers can sometimes leave money on the table when buying a home in France is over the exchange rate. The best advice is to talk to a foreign exchange specialist as they can usually offer a better rate than high-street banks. Currency contracts can be taken out, for example, which freeze exchange rates – potentially protecting you from currency movements between making an offer and completing. 

Inheritance Planning 

Under French law, you must leave part of your estate to your children – or, if you don’t have children, to your parents. If you don’t want to do this, there are ways around it, but you will need to seek advice from a professional. 


There are also inheritance tax implications to navigate. For example, you may have to pay as much as 60% inheritance tax if you are unmarried. You may enter into a French civil partnership as a way around this, but, again, you will need to seek professional advice before taking this route. 

Property Surveys

Unlike in the UK, it is not a legal obligation to have a house structurally surveyed before a sale in France. Nonetheless, it is highly advisable to employ the services of a professional, experienced, and English-speaking South of France property surveyor before making an offer. This is especially important if you plan to renovate the property for sale after purchase. 


Just because a house looks beautiful and welcoming on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s not falling to bits beneath the paint and plaster work. A professional property surveyor will be able to check everything from electricity wiring to heating and hot water systems, pipes and waste drainage, wall stability, and external structures. The surveyor will then produce a detailed report so you know precisely what you’re getting into. 


If you plan to renovate, a property surveyor will also be able to advise you on costs, timelines, and getting planning permission (note: you can include a condition in the sales contract that the purchase is dependent on planning permission being approved). This is all crucial information, no matter if you plan to rent out the home, live in it yourself, or sell the property two, five, or ten years later. 

Buying a House in the South of France – Charles Mackintosh, Chartered Property Surveyor

Buying a house in the South of France is undoubtedly one of the best life decisions you’ll ever make – but it’s crucial you do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line. 


For more information on buying a French property, get in touch with South of France property surveyor Charles Mackintosh. With over 30 years’ experience living and operating in the region, Charles provides highly regarded English language property surveys and advice for British buyers.