It is important to remember that cultural etiquette will be different in France that it is back home, and it is good to be aware of the social customs so that you can behave appropriately when interacting in these situations.
While you are meeting with people during the process of buying a property in France, an appropriate greeting is a friendly handshake. The French usually only greet each other by their first names when in the company of close friends and family, so make sure to greet the estate agent, seller, and other people who you meet by the honorific title of Madame or Monsieur and their last name. However, if someone invites you to use their first name then it is acceptable to do so.
You will notice that public life and business transaction in France will all seem quite formal. People are always addressed with the appropriate greeting and title, manners are always upheld, and language is usually formal. When you are buying a property in France you might find that there is a lot of protocol and many formalities to go through while making the deal. Try not to get frustrated with the stuffiness and bureaucratic excess of the process and accept it. Always respect the formality and the hierarchy of any meeting situation.
Although meetings are very formal, punctuality is not a high priority for the French. Being 15 minutes late for an appointment or meeting would not even be seen as an issue, so don’t worry if you show up somewhere on time and no-one is there. The further south you travel in France, the more flexible the idea of time becomes. In the laid back atmosphere of Southern France, time is a very fluid concept!
Do you need to speak fluent French to buy a property in France? Not necessarily. You can work with a bilingual estate agent and lawyer who can help you find the property in France that you are looking for and translate all necessary paperwork. However, you might encounter situations such as when an estate agent takes you to view a property, when the seller does not speak any English. In those situations, it is nice to have a few simple French phrases to use so that you have something to say to them. The locals will love that you made the effort to speak to them in their own language, and they will respect you for it.
When you are negotiating with a French person, perhaps with the seller about the price of the property in France that you want to buy, don’t rush them or act impatient. The French generally take their time when making a major decision, and can feel uncomfortable if you put them on the spot or try to hurry the procedure along. Be patient.
However, don’t be afraid to have a different opinion if you are able to defend your position well, as you are likely to earn respect for this.
Remember these cultural etiquette tips when buying property in France, and your efforts will be respected and appreciated.
Here are some business etiquette tips to remember when buying a property in France.
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