Posted on 30 January 2017
The appeal of the French Alps for winter sports enthusiasts is obvious: breath-taking mountains, gorgeous sunshine, vibrant après-ski, more than 300 well-connected resorts and some 5,000 miles of pistes. And for anyone that’s considering buying a property in the region so they can have all this on their doorstep, a proven rental market and historically strong capital appreciation is more than just an added bonus.
This irresistible combination of geographical, social and economic attributes attracts property buyers from around the globe to the French Alps every year. Who wouldn’t want to mix with the European alpine elite whenever it suits them? But just how straightforward is it to buy a home in France if you’re from outside of the European Union (EU)? It’s common knowledge that EU citizens benefit from certain rights – banking, tax, insurance, health care, travel –when snapping up property in other in other member states.
Just because these special neighbourly agreements don’t apply if you’re from out of town, you shouldn’t let the prospect of unravelling the red tape put you off embarking on your overseas property journey. Thousands of residents from the US, Canada, Russia and many other nations already own properties in France and other EU countries, so it’s far from an impossible dream. Let’s have a quick look at the main considerations for non-EU citizens with an eye on an alpine retreat.
Make sure you do your homework before you hit the slopes to your hearts content, download the France Buying Guide here.
Can I buy in France?
Yes! While the French cannot buy a home in, for example, Australia, without being approved and being limited to what they can buy, an Australia or an American can buy a home in France perfectly easily. There are, however, visa restrictions on how long they can stay. France does not offer a “golden visa” where you can just buy an expensive home and get to live there (not yet, anyway).
Can I get a mortgage?
Before you head off on your picturesque viewing trip you might need to apply for a mortgage, so you know how much money you’ll be lent and the interest you’ll pay – unless you’re a cash buyer of course.
As a non-EU citizen you’ll usually be able to obtain a French euro mortgage so long as you pass the usual checks, but while EU citizens will normally only have to stump up with 20 percent as a deposit, non-EU citizens will have to find a little more.
There will be taxes, presumably?
If you want your property to pay for itself when you’ve hung up your ski boots for the season and headed home, you might consider dipping your toes into the rental market. Taxes are a fact of life and France tends to be tougher on non-EU citizens, but the good news is that for smaller rental incomes, you can benefit from a simplified tax regime called ‘Micro Fonciere’. Moreover, when you come to sell, capital gains tax is the same whether you are from within the European Union or outside.
For a step-by-step guide to buying a property in France, download the France Buying Guide by clicking here.