French PM pledges to end fees for some home buyers: who could benefit?

It is not clear whether the scheme would apply to foreign residents buying for the first-time in France

apartments in construction in France sold for €122,000
The prime minister promised to remove notaire fees for first-time buyers on sales of houses valued under €250,000

First-time buyers purchasing a main home in France could potentially save more than €10,000 on so-called ‘notaire fees’ under plans included in the election manifesto of Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s Renaissance Party. 

We look at who this scheme could apply to and if foreigners buying a home in France would be included.

Notaire fees are a range of taxes and charges added on top of real estate sales and paid by the buyer. They usually amount to around 8.3% of the sale price.

The lion’s share of this fee - 5.8% of the property price - goes to the department and the commune where the property is located.

The notaires themselves actually only get 0.825% of the ‘notaire fee’, which is obligatory in all property transactions and deducted at the point of signature.

Read more: Explainer: Role of notaire in France and what to do if not happy 

The prime minister promised to remove these fees for first-time buyers on property sales valued at under €250,000 in an election pledge on June 15 but so far details are scant.

However, media reports have already started scrambling to add up how much first-time buyers could save and what this would mean for the struggling housing market.

“For a purchase of €200,000, the notaire fees can be as much as €11,600,” Cécile Roquelaure, director of broker agency Empruntis told Capital. “This could make banks less demanding in terms of the amount of savings they want to see and help boost demand.”

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What is the definition of a first-time buyer?

Precisely what constitutes a ‘first-time’ buyer is up to some interpretation.

For the purposes of the state’s prêt à taux zéro (PTZ) - zero-interest housing loan, which is available to first-time buyers or ‘primo-accedant’ it means ‘first-time buyer of a main home in the past two years’.

Read more: Interest-free property loans to be available to more buyers in France 

This means that people who already own property can be considered as ‘first-time’ buyers if they let the property out and rent for two years.

Indeed, for the purposes of the PTZ ‘first-time buyer’ could even have a real-estate empire on condition that they have lived in a rented main home for the past two years.

However, it is unclear whether the rules preclude people who have owned a main home abroad in the past two years.

There are reports of banks granting the PTZ loan to individuals moving to France who lived abroad in main homes within the past two years on the grounds that they were ‘first-time buyers’ in France. 

However, this loan is largely at the discretion of banks and the prospective change to notaire fees could have more stringent stipulations.

A spokesperson for the Gabriel Attal’s Renaissance Party told The Connexion that the precise modalities of the change to notaire fees would be announced later this week.

Renaissance is also expected to give more information on its other manifesto pledges, including the extension of the €1 health insurance top-up scheme for people on low incomes and the ‘Macron’ bonus of up to €10,000 a year for firms.