Posted on 22 May 2021
For those looking at buying international property, getting your mortgage sorted can feel a little overwhelming. When it comes to getting your hands on finance in France, how to find a French mortgage broker and which bank you can go to for finance are tricky choices.
The French banking system can be a little confusing when you’re working in your second language; there’s a lot of paperwork that needs completing, so you may want to make sure you’ve got a French translator to help you out. When you’re buying a property in France, what do you need to know to get a good mortgage? How can you be sure you’re not going to get hit with extra charges as an international buyer?
We look at the top things to consider when you’re trying to work out how to find a French mortgage broker. With the perfect broker, you can get financing for your dream chalet in no time!
French Market Conditions
Due to Brexit, the French market conditions are a little harder to navigate at the moment, than they would be otherwise. Some banks have paused lending to UK buyers for the moment, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re not asking a bank that won’t lend to you due to current political circumstances. There are also one or two banks that only lend to French citizens.
Otherwise, French interest rates are currently lower than normal. When it comes to good long term investments, this means that you’ll be getting great rates on your mortgage. The French lending system favours long-term fixed mortgages, and so it can be seen as a particularly attractive prospect, even for buyers who have all the money upfront. This has made the French property market one of the most stable in Europe.
French banks do tend to be risk-averse, so if you’re looking at interest only, fixed-rate mortgages you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the financial means to cover repayments. In fact, in the case of interest-only mortgages, you’ll need to have enough stashed away to cover the whole mortgage.
There are plenty of options though, and it can cost you to choose the wrong one, which is why it’s important to know how to find a French mortgage broker.
How to Find a French Mortgage Broker
Finding a good mortgage broker is a vital part of buying a ski chalet in the French Alps. Using the wrong broker can massively increase your costs, and lead you to pay far more for your mortgage than you would otherwise.
French banks pay brokers a small commission that is normally around 1.5% of the total mortgage value. Some brokers will ask you to pay additional fees and also charge you extra for the need for bilingual brokers, who will then negotiate the mortgage for you. Some brokers will charge you a dossier fee for reading the application, and a success fee once you have been approved.
These fees are normally higher for international buyers than French-speaking buyers. The fees can sometimes be as high as 3.5% of the mortgage total, so you will need to make sure you’re choosing a reliable, honest broker.
That said, as there are comparatively few mortgage lenders operating in France it’s still worth looking into how to find a mortgage broker to help you get the best deal you can.
What Should You Look For?
If you’re looking into how to find a French mortgage broker, go by local reputation and get references if need be. It almost goes without saying, but try to avoid brokers if they mention charging you fees. Some brokers will ask for an upfront payment before they’ll even tell you that you’re not eligible for a mortgage; these are not the mortgage brokers you will want to deal with.
As with many elements of life in France, getting a mortgage is a slow process that normally takes around 14 weeks. As such, you’ll need to go to a broker you can see yourself working with over that period. With that said, you should look for a properly regulated no-fee mortgage broker with a good reputation.
You should be aware that mortgage brokers certified for the UK are completely unregulated in France. You will need a qualified French mortgage broker, who can help you through the whole process. Don’t fall for a good sales pitch, with no substance!
Everything You Need in Your Mortgage Broker: A Checklist
- Dedicated and quality service from an individual broker who is charged with helping you through the entire process of getting a mortgage.
- Your broker must have expert knowledge of the French property market, lending market, and banking system. The more information they can give you, the better! This means no faceless call centres or salespeople who are only out to make money off you.
- Your broker should have a customer-first approach, rather than being out to maximise profit for themselves and their firm.
- Your broker should be experienced and professional. Always ask how long they have been brokering mortgages in the French system, and what it was they did before that point. You want to be working with someone who knows the system in and out.
- You need your broker to be looking for the best mortgage for you, rather than the best mortgage for their own bottom line. An honest mortgage broker will tell you when a lender isn’t the right fit, while a dishonest broker will let you make a mistake knowing they’ll benefit financially from it.
- You want your broker to offer good value for money. This means no added fees or nasty hidden charges that you’ll get hit with later in the process.
If you’re interested in buying property in the French Alps, be it a ski chalet or an apartment, in a year-round resort town or a high, ski-in ski-out resort, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our professionals can help you find your dream ski property. Take a look at our ski property listings in the Swiss and French Alps.