5 simple steps to buying in France

As thrilled as you may be to call the slopes home, the actual process of buying a ski home might seem a little intimidating. But it need not be: to help you out, we’ve boiled it down into five easy to follow steps. 

Step one: Define your property goals and budget

Interior of a ski property in Les Arcs, France.

Your hunt for the perfect ski home can start on our property portal. We have over 2,500 properties listed in France. You’ll find beautiful older chalets to flash new build homes boasting of the latest technology, and everything in between. An explore through our portal will help you to gauge what kind of property and resort inspires you.

To anchor your search, think about what you intend to use your ski home for. It might be that you primarily see it as an investment opportunity. Or, perhaps, you’d like to retire to it in the near future.

Plus, think about what kind of home you can realistically get for your budget. In addition to the price of the property, you’ll also want to include in your budget purchase costs, renovation, maintenance and taxes.

Step two: Assemble a professional team

Navigating the buying process in France can be tricky, especially if French is not your first language. To avoid common pitfalls, we recommend creating a team of key professionals. Firstly, a reputable estate agent, with a great working knowledge of the area that you are buying in. You’ll also want a bilingual lawyer, who can assist you with understanding French property law.

While the first two might seem obvious, a currency specialist is also essential. This is because, influenced by socioeconomic events, currency rates change all the time. In the time that it takes you to spy your dream home online, visit it, put the deposit down and hold the keys in your hand, exchange rates can move against you.

This could mean having to fork out considerably more for a property than you had envisioned and even mean that your French property plans grind to a halt. Smart Currency Exchange can help come up with a plan to safeguard against this, specific to your needs.

Additionally, you might find it useful to reach out to a mortgage and financial advisor. 

Step three: Explore and narrow down your options

Open plan room in a ski home in La Plagne, France.

Take your property search offline by booking a trip to France. Once you have selected a handful of homes that tick your boxes, you can arrange a viewing trip with your estate agent to see them in-person.

You might find it productive to go on a viewing trip outside of the peak season. It will give you a taste for what the area is like when it isn’t busy, and you are less likely to get distracted by the call of the slopes. 

Step four: Make an offer and secure financing

On that very first viewing trip, you might just find the perfect property.

We recommend having your professional team already in place for your viewing trip so that if you want to make an offer, you can, in a hassle-free manner. Hopefully, its accepted, and then you'll sign a preliminary contract (compromis de vente) and pay a deposit. During this stage, you'll also need to secure your financing.

If you're buying with a mortgage, ensure you have a mortgage agreement in principle. Smart Currency Exchange can organise a forward contract to lock in your exchange rate and protect your finances against fluctuations.

Step five: Finalise the sale

Exterior of a ski property in Lélex, France.

After signing the compromis de vente, there’s a seven-day cooling-off period.

Use this time to double-check everything. Following this, the notaire conducts searches and prepares the final deed of sale (acte de vente).

Once this is signed, the balance is paid, and the keys are handed over. It’s time to open the champagne as you are now the proud owner of a French ski property!