Real estate

Home loans for first-time buyers: what you need to know


Buying a home is often seen as a rite of passage into adulthood and a major milestone in life. This is particularly true for first-time buyers, those individuals purchasing a property for the first time. Many questions and concerns may arise: Which bank should I choose? How can I get the best credit rate? What kind of assistance can I get? This comprehensive guide will provide you with crucial information for navigating the complex world of mortgages as a first-time buyer in France.

The mortgage, a key element

The basics of mortgages

A mortgage is often the first step in buying a home. In France, many banks offer special deals for first-time buyers. When choosing a bank, consider consulting a mortgage broker. This professional can help you compare offers and negotiate the best terms.

Interest rates

The interest rate is a crucial part of the loan. In France, rates generally vary between 1% and 3%, depending on the term of the loan and the economic climate. A lower rate means that the overall cost of borrowing will be reduced, hence the importance of a good track record. If you have an open-ended contract, a good capital contribution and well-managed bank accounts, you’re more likely to get a favorable rate.

PTZ: Prêt à Taux Zéro

The PTZ is specially designed to help first-time buyers. This type of financing allows you to benefit from an interest-free loan. However, the conditions for eligibility are strict: it must be your first purchase of a principal residence, and you must meet certain income ceilings.

Prêt Accession Sociale (PAS)

The PAS is a regulated loan granted by financial institutions that have signed an agreement with the French government. Its aim is to facilitate the purchase of a principal residence for people on modest incomes. Its rate is slightly lower, and it also qualifies for the APL (Aide personnalisée au logement).

Personal contribution: a determining factor

The personal contribution is generally made up of your personal savings, any gifts you may have made, or an inheritance. This contribution is essential when negotiating a loan. The higher it is, the more likely you are to benefit from low interest rates and advantageous conditions.

Assistance for first-time buyers

Action Logement

Action Logement is an organization that offers financing solutions to facilitate property purchases. The “Accession+” loan can finance up to 30,000 euros of your purchase project.

APL Accession and CAF

The APL Accession allows you to reduce your monthly loan payments. It is paid by the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) directly to the bank that granted the loan, reducing your monthly repayments.

Reduced VAT

If your purchase is a VEFA (Vente en l’état futur d’achèvement) in certain zones, you can benefit from a reduced VAT rate, generally 5.5% instead of 20%.

Regional specificities: the case of Paris

Home loans for first-time buyers Paris Tour Eiffel

Paris is a special real estate market, with prices much higher than elsewhere in France. However, subsidies and preferential loans are sometimes available for first-time buyers. Ask your real estate agent or the town hall.

Other factors to consider

Insurance and PEL

Borrower’s insurance is compulsory to obtain a mortgage. Conditions vary from bank to bank, but generally cover the risks of death, disability and inability to work. The Plan Epargne Logement (PEL) can also be a good way to save for your project and benefit from a loan at an attractive rate.

Additional costs and GTC

There’s more to buying real estate than the price of the home and the cost of the loan. Other costs such as notary fees, administration fees and estate agency fees are added to the total cost. Please also read the General Terms of Use (GTU) carefully to be fully aware of all aspects of your loan.


Becoming a homeowner for the first time is both an exciting and stressful experience. With historically low interest rates and a host of grants available for first-time buyers, now is the ideal time to make your real estate project a reality. From drawing up your budget to signing at the notary’s office, each stage requires special attention. With the right preparation and perhaps the help of a broker for the acquisition of your property, you can make this dream a reality. The advantages of financing and specific assistance for first-time buyers can make the process a lot easier and help you take the step towards home ownership more easily.

In short, the mortgage landscape for first-time buyers is rich and diverse. The opportunities are numerous, but they require a thorough knowledge of the various elements involved: the mortgage, the available grants, the role of the personal contribution, the interest rate, and many others. The most important thing is to do your research, compare offers and know your rights and obligations as a borrower.

Good luck in this exciting adventure! Now you’re better equipped to take the first step towards realizing your real estate project.

A final word on real estate brokers and agencies

Once you’ve gathered all this information, you may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the whole process. This is where mortgage brokers and real estate agencies come in. A broker is a professional who helps you find the best financing for your project. He knows the market, current rates, and often has privileged relationships with several banks. What’s more, they can negotiate on your behalf, which is particularly useful if you’re a first-time buyer with no experience of mortgages.

Real estate agencies will help you find your future home. In Paris as elsewhere, our agents are experts in their respective geographical areas. They can inform you about the various regional grants available and the specifics of the local property market.

Pay close attention to offers and terms and conditions

The General Terms and Conditions (GTC) of home loans often contain specific clauses relating to prepayment charges, penalties for late payment, and other technical aspects of the loan. It is therefore imperative that you read and understand these terms before signing anything. In France, the law gives you a 10-day cooling-off period once you’ve received your loan offer, which you can use to reconsider your commitment if necessary.

Your personal situation: permanent employment contract, income, personal contribution in euros

If you have an open-ended contract, banks will generally be more inclined to grant you a loan, as this demonstrates a certain financial stability. There’s no hard and fast rule about your down payment, but banks generally appreciate a down payment equivalent to at least 10% of the total cost of the property purchase. This often amounts to several tens of thousands of euros, which is an important criterion for advantageous financing.

Final conclusion

The road to home ownership, especially for first-time buyers, can be full of pitfalls. However, with careful preparation, good advice and attention to every detail – from interest rates to available grants to the fine print on loan offers – you can maximize your benefits and minimize your risks.

You’re now armed with all the information and advice you need to make an informed choice. Good luck in your search for the primary residence of your dreams and in the completion of your first real estate purchase.

Remember, every borrower is unique, and it’s always advisable to consult professionals for personalized advice. The French mortgage market offers many opportunities, especially for first-time buyers. It’s up to you to make the most of it!

To find out more, read the article Use a real estate broker for your loan?

Alix Lebrun

Alix Lebrun

Alix Lebrun est auteur pour le magazine Adises Active, spécialisé dans tous les sujets liés aux affaires, au droit et à l'emploi. Elle est titulaire d'une maîtrise en commerce international et d'une licence en communication. Alix écrit depuis l'âge de 12 ans et a toujours aimé partager ses pensées avec les autres par le biais de l'écriture.