You can apply for mortgages in France up to 100% loan-to-value. The maximum term is 30 years (available to age 80) and the minimum loan amount is €50,000. You can apply for a repayment or interest only mortgage.
Loans are usually offered in Euros or Sterling.
Affordability and proof of income
There are no non-status/self-certification mortgage facilities available in France. Therefore all loans need to be supported by a minimum of proof of income.
If you are employed you will need to produce your last three months' payslips, your latest P60 and employer's reference and your last three months' personal bank statements.
If you're self-employed you will need your last two years' audited accounts, tax returns and accountant's reference and your last three months' personal bank statements.
To qualify, a calculation will be used by your lender to see whether you can afford your mortgage repayments.
Your existing payments – such as your UK mortgage and credit card payments – as well as your French mortgage payments will be taken into account. This must not exceed 35% of your monthly gross income.
Need to know
You should obtain the advice of a solicitor before you buy a property in France. You should ensure you will also have full title to the property and that you have the correct documents to hand.
Once you have chosen your apartment or house, you must sign a preliminary purchase contract. For existing structures, this contract will take the form of a "compromis de vente", the equivalent of an English agreement for sale and purchase; for a new property, you will need to sign a "contrat de reservation", the equivalent of an expression of intent.
If you do not have an existing French bank account, consider opening one when you apply for mortgage financing. This will facilitate setting up your direct debit mortgage repayments.
Once your mortgage application has been approved, you will receive a loan offer by registered post. This will be a formal undertaking from the lender to you. The offer is normally valid for 30 days. At the end of the 11-day cooling off period required by French law, you simply return the acceptance form together with the postal delivery slip showing the date on which you received the loan offer to the lender.
A notary will prepare the deed of sale ready for your signature. There is generally a delay of approximately three months between signing the preliminary sales contact and signing the final deed of sale. You should expect to pay notary and other fees at the closing when the final deed of sale is signed.
Be aware that not all lenders carry out valuations or surveys so you may want to do this yourself.