Private sales normally rely on the buyer speaking good French. Similarly many notaires will not speak English, and have relatively few properties available. The easiest way to get to know the area, and get an idea of the property market is by seeing several houses, and using an Estate agent.
Not all agents handle both sales and rentals.
French people move houses less often than those in other countries. This results in fewer houses on the market, and the same house often being represented by more than one agent. Prices may differ as the owner adds additional agents with varying valuations and commission structures. FAI means all agency costs included, and should be used when comparing prices.
Estate agent offices often use a network of independent agents who represent them. Normally, the commission is shared resulting in no additional fees to the buyer.
Estate agents charge a high commission in France, but sell fewer houses. Independent agents often cover a wide area. Some are linked to other agents and can advise on property further afield.
Agents can be located through the yellow pages and from the free property magazines distributed throughout the area. In general they are located in cities and the larger market towns, and conveniently, are often close together. Beware that often some of the properties in the window are sold whilst other, available, properties do not have photos. Many holiday accommodation business properties will not be displayed publicly because the owners wish to protect future bookings.
It is important to brief the agent, preferably in writing, with an exact description of the kind of property, area and budget you are interested in. This will save trips to properties that the agent wants to sell, but do not meet your requirements.
The difficult part is to visit as many properties as possible and remember each of them ! It is useful to use a checklist of questions, to help later consideration. Taking lunch in the area will also provide local knowledge.
Points to know -
- The asking price is negotiable
- Most properties sell fairly quickly - if not, there must be a reason
- Read about the legal process of house buying in The News
- Ask when the property will be available for occupation
- Check utility costs
Guide to French estate agents abbreviations
Local property agents
Local property services
English speaking property agents
Selected property for sale