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Types of property in France

Types of property in France

A Detailed Exploration of Property Types in France: What Buyers Should Know


The property market in France is as varied as it is rich, providing an array of options that cater to a diverse set of needs and investment strategies. According to the latest data, the French property market has shown remarkable resilience, even in the face of economic challenges, making it a compelling destination for global investors. This comprehensive guide aims to delve into the nuances of the French real estate landscape, highlighting the attributes, benefits, and special considerations of each property type.

Second Homes: An Escape with Investment Potential

Immediate Possession and Variety

The second home market has been a robust segment in French real estate, with a growth of 2% in sales as of 2021. The key benefit is immediate ownership upon completion of the sales transaction, allowing you to take possession right after signing the deed. Options range from modest yet charming apartments in Nice to sprawling estates in Cannes.

Investment Upside

According to Banque de France, properties in the French Riviera have generally appreciated, offering owners not just leisure but also an investment upside.

New Builds: Future-Ready Living

Quality, Safety, and Economic Benefits

Newly constructed properties in France come with the promise of meeting contemporary technical and environmental norms. The VEFA (Vente en l'état futur d'achèvement) system provides assurance of quality and safety, regulated by stringent French construction codes. Notary fees for new builds are considerably lower, often saving buyers thousands of euros.

Plots of Building Land: Tailor-Made Dreams

Flexibility and Complexity

Building from scratch offers unparalleled customization but comes with its own complexities. For instance, zoning regulations on the Côte d'Azur can be intricate due to the region's desirability and environmental constraints. Additionally, the need for utilities like electricity and water supply can add unforeseen costs.

Local Planning Laws

It's important to familiarize oneself with the PLU (Plan Local d'Urbanisme), a critical document that outlines land use regulations in specific municipalities.

Viager: A Unique French Investment

Life Annuities and Risk Assessment

The Viager system offers an opportunity to pay a fraction of the property value upfront, with the remainder covered by a lifetime annuity to the seller. This model often favors sellers over the age of 70, as the annuity calculations take life expectancy into account.

Leaseback Systems: A Tax-Efficient Investment

VAT Reclaim and Consistent Income

Leaseback properties are eligible for a VAT refund, generally at a rate of 20%, subject to certain conditions. The model allows for part-year occupancy, while a management company handles leasing for the remainder, generating a stable income for the owner.

Special Property Types: Coastlines and Historical Estates

Legal Nuances and Public Rights

Properties located along the French coastline are subject to specific rules under the French Coastal Law. For instance, the owner cannot restrict public access to the coastal area. Similarly, owning a medieval castle would place the property under the category of French cultural heritage, bringing its own set of obligations and public access rights.


Navigating the French property market requires a nuanced understanding of its varied segments, each with its distinct benefits and obligations. Backed by resilient market trends and favorable financial conditions, French real estate continues to be a lucrative and desirable investment arena.

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