Buying a Villa? Read This First!
The French Riviera is a very unique housing market. There’s a lot of pitfalls, scams, and fraud that happens in the French real estate market. Nearly all of the guides to buying real estate are biased and written by those with a financial interest. Not this guide.
This guide is 100% unbiased, with no conflict of interest.
Those who profit from it don’t want you to know these secrets, but we’ve uncovered many of them. This is essential reading for any buyer.
If you’re looking to buy a villa (on the French Riviera, houses are referred to as “villas”) in France, it’s very important that you do your homework, as there’s a lot to learn (and if you don’t put in the time to learn this guide, or you trust pricing advice given to you by agents, you will almost certainly end up overpaying).
Who Wrote This?
We are a team of investigative journalists who live in Monaco and on the French Riviera. None of us have any ties to the real estate industry, nor do any of our family members, so we are completely un-biased. As you read the guide, you’ll see that our honesty makes this is obvious. In fact, we assert that this is the only guide to French real estate written by those without a financial connection to this industry. This is why there is information in this guide that exposes unflattering secrets, unlike other guides.
Before you start looking at real estate listings, first download the Drimki mobile app and the Google Earth mobile app. Then open both on your phone and start to look at the area you’re interested in on the Drimki app.
Here’s your first tip: All the sales are listed on Drimki, and the prices are correct, but the m² / villa size is not correct, so you’ll need to look on Google Earth to get an idea of the real size.
This will give you a sense of the market, which is important to know in advance, since asking prices on the French Riviera are often dramatically inflated and speculative.
The Drimki app shows sales (but incorrect m²):
Google Earth will help you estimate the size:
To get started, make sure to read our guide to real estate scams & secrets and our expert predictions for the French Riviera real estate market in 2023 and beyond so you know when the best time to buy is.
Then make sure to find these things out, and learn how to bargain, before putting in a (market value!) offer, while avoiding contract pitfalls.
Below are links to guides explaining the things you’ll need to know about buying real estate in the south of France. Get ready, as this guide is long, but concise, and very informative.
Our Guides to Buying Real Estate in France:
When you’re ready to look for a property, make sure to read our complete guide to buying real estate in France. These guides explain how to estimate a property’s real value, how to get the best price and avoid over-pricing, what to look out for, how to avoid getting scammed, and more.
First, in order to understand the real estate market in France, you must understand how m² pricing is a giant scam. Then, you can move on to the other guides:
Our guide to where the market is headed includes: French Riviera real estate market predictions, current & historic pricing trends in the market, and the reasons why prices will continue to fall. Plus, supplementary guide to Russians & their impact on the French Riviera real estate market.
Our guide to real estate listings includes: how to find villas for sale, what to look out for, misinformation and warnings, auctions & foreclosures, buying direct from sellers, why timing is everything, and the reason why only about half of villa sales are publicly listed.
Our guide to scams and secrets includes: warnings about the unethical tricks that agents, notaires, sellers, developers and builders use to get more money out of you. This is a must-read, and the whistleblower guide that those in the business don’t want you to see.
Our guide to real estate agents includes: the dishonest things agents will tell you, how real estate agencies operate, buyer’s agents and property finders, why you should avoid illegal and non-local agents, and who to trust (an important warning).
Our guide to pricing & determining a villa’s market value includes: why there’s so much extreme overpricing, how to estimate a villa’s market value (what it’s worth), and a step-by-step guide to finding your offer price.
Our guide to important things to find out includes: diagnostic reports and surveys, sun & micro-climates, potential issues with the view, housing taxes, the age, internet and mobile access, danger (red) zones, health risks, privacy & space issues, nearby problems, what you’ll actually own, illegal additions and structures, why they’re selling, how to verify, and more.
Our guide to things to consider includes: your actual costs, issues with buying a ‘newly renovated’ villa, learning about local crime & squatters, and questions to ask yourself.
Our guide to the buying process includes: negotiating the price & the initial offer, choosing an honest notaire, buying in the black, the official offer & deposit, using a SCI, contract pitfalls, the cooling-off period, what to do before handing over the money, and the final signing.
Our guide for after you buy includes: insurance pitfalls, tips for second homes, renting your villa, renovating, and what to know about hiring people.
Guide for sellers: How to price your villa so it will sell.
(These guides are intended to help people who are interested in buying a villa on the French Riviera. Monaco has its own, very unique, market and this guide does not apply to the Monaco market.)