As you would expect, the location of a property that you want to buy has a great impact on the selling price. That 100 square meter (1076 square feet) apartment in Paris with a minimum selling price of 1 to 2 million euros would probably cost you one tenth that price in one of the most affordable places to buy in France, Saint-Étienne, about an hour outside of Lyon. The newspaper Le Figaro has compiled a list (pdf link at the bottom of this post) of cities with a population of at least 50,000 people that they have called, “The cities where the price of real estate is the most affordable.” While this chart will give you a good idea about the sales price of the home itself, it doesn’t include any of the accompanying fees, most of which fall under a category called frais de notaire that will easily be thousands of euros. So, how do you estimate that and are there other costs too?
As mentioned above, the location of a property will certainly be an important factor in its price with rural houses often costing much less than their big-city cousins. Although we were hoping to live in a quaint village we knew that would require a car so we chose a neighborhood in a small city that has lots of businesses and professional offices, local buses and even a long distance train station within walking distance of home. For us it’s a village-feel where our neighbors are our friends and yet we have all the conveniences of a big city. In the list from Le Figaro there are many towns with a population similar to Carcassonne’s 46,000 that might offer these same advantages.
Once you’ve decided on a city, or at least an area in which to concentrate a search, you will probably want to find a real estate agent. In our experience, sellers often list their homes with an agency in their own neighborhood but any agent should be able to show any available property even if it’s listed with a competitor; the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent would then split the commission that currently seems to average 5% of the sales price although we’ve seen it as high as 10%. A word of warning: should you view the same house with 2 different agents/agencies and later buy the property, both agents will expect a full commission on the sale.
The notaire is the public official who oversees the sale and purchase of property, records the details with the government, and collects the fee of about 9%, most of which the notaire turns over to the state. There’s a simple calculator (link below) from the National Agency for Information on Lodging to estimate this frais de notaire.
Once you become a homeowner, your fee concern shifts from acquisition to maintenance; that is, renovations, taxes, and utilities. An article that I read from the international real estate brokerage firm Tranio says that Parisians annually pay 40 € per square meter of property for all those items combined while the rest of us outside the capital pay 24 € per square meter.
Photo note: That beautiful château above in the featured photo is the 10-bedroom Lamostonie in the southwest of France that we rented with a group of friends for a week of vacation. I wonder what the annual maintenance fee for that must be?
Frais de notaire calculator: https://www.anil.org/outils/outils-de-calcul/frais-dacquisition-dits-frais-de-notaire/
Notaire website in English: https://www.notaires.fr/en
Real estate price estimator: https://www.meilleursagents.com/prix-immobilier/