Thursday, June 22, 2017

Buying French property? Beware of false images...

Like all product advertising, vendors and agents can use a number of visual tricks to enhance the look of a property for sale, including clever photography and hiding or masking defects.

Despite the procedures shown on French TV programmes such as "Cherche appartement ou maison' (Channel 6) in which would-be buyers join the agent on site for a series of visits, in real life more time is - or should be - spent in the agent's office discussing the clients' needs in detail, and as a preminary going through the agent's catalogue of available properties to have a general idea of what appeals to the client - or not.

French agents tend to cover a wider area, in my own experience it was quite a large chunk of Pyrénées Orietales and as a result often difficult to visit more than three or four properties during a morning or afteroon. Not just because of the distances to be covered but the admin required to contact owners, pick up keys from a branch office or keyholder, and arrange appointments.

As a result the preliminary meeting in the agent's office is important, to discuss the client's aspirations, budget, likes and dislikes, and view selected properties in the agent's catalogue. Many agency photographs are notoriously bad and frequently the subject of criticism. They rarely show an exterior due to the fact that several agencies may be handling the property for vendors who have signed an a non-exclusive multiple agreement. Very few are the work of professionals.

Using a professional photographer however has its good and bad sides. Photographs can be used to enhance the look of an average property - using more or softer lighting,  or taking shots from high up or low down to enhance the size of a room,  and at worse hiding or disguising defects.

Typical of these are proximity to a main road or railway line, surrounding buildings such as a factory, school or supermarket, or undesirable objects such as overhead electric cables and high voltage pylons. Frequently clients will arrive on site and are already rejecting the property before going through the front door.

Also anoying for potential buyers is the lack of a floor plan, which the vendor should be able to supply as it would normally have been included as part of his/her sales contract. This helps to visualise the proerty as a whole, see how alterations might enhance its potential, and offers an accurate scale plan showing actuall dimensions.

Curiously these small practical details are neglected by some vendors and agents, and sales are lost despite the property being within the buyer's budget. The programme noted above includes some interesting examples. not forgetting it is primarily designed for popular  viewing and includes much pratical advice from the presenter Stéphane Plaza.

Poster by