Escape to the Chateau DIY: how to buy property in France after Brexit

The second season of Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau: DIY has returned with aplomb, with renovation royalty, Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree, on hand to impart their hard-won wisdom to other prospective chateau buyers, as well as new and established chateau owners.

As well as offering viewers an insight into the day-to-day running of their own chateau, the series follows the trials and tribulations of Brits seeking to make their forever home in the heart of the French countryside. 

If you’re inspired to search for your own French hideaway, there are plenty of chateaux to be found, but it’s important not to make a decision on the property price alone – chateaux tend to require a significant cash injection to renovate and restore. 

Should you buy property in France before Brexit?

With Brexit looming, it’s more vital than ever to consider what this might mean for those thinking of moving across the Channel.

Negotiations around the UK’s departure from the European Union are still underway, so it remains unclear exactly what this will mean for those looking to leave. 

That said, there are certain facts that will prevail regardless of what happens after 29 March. 

Non-EU citizens are entitled to remain in France for up to 90 days in any 180 day period and standard holiday insurance should cover any medical issues occurring during this period

Property taxes and French mortgage rates remain the same, regardless of the buyer’s nationality

Both the British government and EU have expressed a commitment to negotiating an agreement on the residential rights of citizens 

Still keen to make the leap? Then read on for our advice on buying historic properties in France. 

Buying historic properties in France

The prospect of renovating a massive home might sound a daunting financial prospect, but there are advantages to buying a landmark home over an ordinary one.

Many chateaux are classed as ‘monuments historiques’, which means they’re listed buildings.

Buyers must obtain planning permission for any work they plan to do, but the French government will then pay up to 40 per cent of the total bill for restoration and even ongoing maintenance.

Some renovation costs are 100 per cent tax deductible, while others are 50 per cent deductible. Even these are 100 per cent deductible if chateau owners open the house to the members of the public for at least 40 days a year.

Should you, too, fancy buying yourself a slice of French history, you should realise that the process is somewhat different than in Britain, but the following five steps should help you.

The offer

Once you’ve found your dream chateau, make sure you have organised all your finances, arranged surveys and thoroughly researched the property and the area before making an offer.

The compromis de vente

In Britain, contracts are exchanged at the very last minute. In France, the opposite is true. Once an offer has been accepted, buyer and seller sign a contract called a ‘compromis de vente’, which can be off-the-peg or contain unique conditions suggested by either party.

The deposit

Once you’ve signing the compromis de vente, you must pay a deposit of around 10 per cent, which will be held by the agent or local notary.

Cooling off

The buyer has a 10-day cooling off period after signing the compromis de vente and paying the deposit, during which they can change their mind and still have their deposit returned intact.

The acte de vente

Once searches have been carried out, both buyer and seller will be asked to sign an ‘acte de vente’ to complete the transfer.

The buyer then pays the balance on the purchase price, along with the notaire fees — around one per cent of the sale price — agency fees, and the French property tax — similar to stamp duty — which is 5.8 per cent of the sale price on older properties.

The successful buyer then receives an attestation de propriété, showing they are the new legal owner, along with the keys.

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