French Language Blog

Buying a House (in French) Posted by on Nov 27, 2017 in Vocabulary

My husband and I recently bought our first house. It has been a welcome distraction, especially since we lost someone very important to us this year and we were getting lost in our grief. But it has also been chaotic, time-consuming, and a little scary, too! There are lots of things that I wasn’t familiar with before (honestly, I had no idea what a title actually was!) that I now feel quite well acquainted with. All of this got me thinking about the vocabulary surrounding buying a house in French!

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Maybe you’re buying property in France or maybe you’re just curious about the vocabulary. Whatever it is, it doesn’t hurt to know these French terms.

The first term to come to mind when buying a house is the mortgage. In France, as elsewhere, there are different kinds of mortgages. The standard kind of mortgage is known as un prêt amortissable or un prêt classique. In this mortgage, you finance typically 80% of the home value and pay back the principle plus interest over a set amount of years. An interest-only mortgage is known as un prêt in fine. There are also different terms of repayment and financing, including un prêt modulable, or a “flexible mortgage,” in which your repayment plan changes depending on your financial circumstances. Un prêt à taux révisable cape is a certain kind of mortgage that offers varied interest rates, typically capped at around 2 or 3%.

In France, the annual percentage rate (APR) of your loan, or the real rate that you have to pay back your principle, is known as le Taux Effectif Global (TEG). 

When you enter into a contact on a property, this is known as the promesse de vente or a compromis de vente. A survey is known as un diagnostic immobilier. Of course, as elsewhere, there are fees that need to be paid when closing on a house that are not related to the mortgage or interest. In France, these fees are known as les frais de notaire, and they can be substantial. These include certain registration taxes, called droits d’enregistrement, and other taxes.

As you can see, in many ways buying a home in France is similar to buying a home in the United States, for example. But there are also many differences. We’ll go over more vocabulary and more particulars next time!

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!