Monday, May 25, 2015

Choosing a French estate agent

Though many owners choose to go it alone and successfully market and sell their French property, the vast majority of property transactions pass through estate agents. How then to choose your French estate agent? I offer some guidelines:

1. Look around your area and check which estate agents handle the same sort of property as the one you are trying to sell. Some estate agents specialise in high value chateaux and wine domains, while others may have more experience selling holiday apartments or moderately priced houses either as first or second homes.

2. Check that your property fits naturally into the agency's selection, including your hoped for price - if your propertyly is more expensive, be prepared to argue why, and listen to the agent's advice.  Bear in mind that no two properties, even in the sqme street, are ever entirely alike.

3. You can sign an exclusive contract with a sole agency, or choose to appoint more than one, and at the same time reeserve the right to market and sell the property yourself.

4. If you decide to appoint more than one agency, there should be a logical reason - such as achieving wider coverage. There is little value in appointing several agents in the same town or local area, and prospective buyers may be confused and wonder if you are desperate to sell - and why?  A local agency plus one or two with, say, British connections can reach a wider market for your property and improve your chances of finding a buyer.But note point 5 below.

5. When I worked in a French estate agency, with over 60 years experience in the area and four local offices, I found that:
- buyers tend to come to the office, having seen local publicity or looked in the window, either unannounced or by appointment
- they tended to visit a number of estate agencies in the region and may have seen the same or similar properties via another agent
- buyers generally knew the area from holidays or previous visits and had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted, including how much they could afford to spend
- our role as 'negotiators' was principally to listen and try and match the properties on our boooks to the potential buyers' aspirations, then accompanying them on visits to those selected from our online catalogue (totalling some 500 properties of all types)
- the bulk of our work, once a sale was achieved, was supervising the transaction through to completion, in close cooperation with the Notaire handling the sale

6. Finally to dispell some popular misconceptions:
- estate agencies are generally not in fierce competion with each other, even in slow times and there is little chance for aggressive 'marketing' (see 5 above again) of a property, sometimes expected by the seller. Property selling takes time, buyers are naturally cautious and may dislike 'pushy' sales tactics. They have a wide range to choose from, even in busy times, and may even change their plans.