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6 Tips to Streamline Your Housing Search

When you are new to a country, searching for housing can seem like a daunting task. But you need not feel overwhelmed. The following tips will help you understand the French rental market and streamline your long-term property search.

1. Understand Lease Types

There are several types of long-term property leases available in France. Your personal and professional situation will determine the type of lease you are eligible for.

To qualify for a primary residence lease, France must be the designated country in which you declare taxes, and the property must be your primary residence (the place where your family resides most of the year). Long-term furnished leases are always of one-year duration and are automatically renewable. Unfurnished properties generally carry three-year leases, while six-year leases are common with institutional owners (banks, insurance companies, etc.).

Be reassured that in high-demand urban areas like Paris and its outskirts, it is possible to break a lease at any time with only one month’s notice. In other areas of less housing demand, the notice period is typically three months.

2. Know How Agency Fees Work

Most properties on the market are rented through real estate agencies. Fees are based on lease type and can vary significantly between agencies. A primary residence lease is most advantageous because this type of lease is strictly regulated by French law (“Loi ALUR”) and based on the size of the property (or 15€ per square meter).

Fees for other types of leases can differ greatly. If this is important to you, we recommend that you inquire about fees before visiting a property.

If you prefer to avoid fees, you may want to find properties listed directly by their owners. Be aware that this kind of search can seriously limit your property search options, particularly in Paris and its surrounding suburbs.

3. Prepare Your Dossier

Once you have found the right property, the ability to act quickly is key. You will want to submit a dossier immediately. A dossier includes important documentation, such as your work contract (if applicable), pay slips, tax declarations and proof of a French bank account (which we can help you set up). Regardless of whether you are working with an agency or a landlord, we recommend that you assemble a dossier prior to starting a property search so you are prepared when the right property comes up. Please be aware that some documents, such as bank statements, should never be requested. You have the option of providing your bank account details in the form of a bank “R.I.B.,” but that is no longer mandatory in France.

4. Know When to Start a Housing Search

Since a shortage of properties exists in the Paris area, your property search does not need to begin months before you need to occupy. We usually recommend starting housing visits three to four weeks before a client is ready to get the keys to their new home.

5. Stay Persistent

Take a tenacious approach when calling about any properties that interest you. Know that reaching the right person can take time, and you should not give up easily. Also bear in mind that properties go quickly, so don’t get discouraged if you make several calls and later learn that the property you are pursuing has already been rented. Just keep looking and calling. The right property will come up.

6. Organize Your Housing Search Based on Your Needs

The right housing can be found at any time of the year, and the real estate market is constantly changing. We recommend organizing your property search according to your individual needs, rather than trying to anticipate market changes. It is worth noting that a larger number of family-sized homes do tend to enter the market at the end of each school year.

If you are having trouble finding the right property or getting approval for your dossier, do not hesitate to contact a professional relocation company like Smart Relocation. It is our mission to help our clients secure the property of their choice in France, without undue stress.

We hope you have found these housing tips helpful. Please feel free to leave your comments below. We are always happy to respond.

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