What about private sales?
It is said that some 50% of property transactions are made in France via private sales, although foreign buyers tend to prefer the security blanket that using an agent or property finder offers. While buying privately avoids the need to pay agency fees, we would only recommend this route if you have good French language skills and a thorough understanding of the process, or alternatively the assistance of a solicitor or additional advisor to help you through the various stages of the transaction - in French.
Should I use an estate agent?
French estate agents have a duty to provide professional assistance and guidance throughout the buying/selling process, including liaison with notaires. Using a registered estate agent is your guaranty in France that you will have legal recourse in case something goes wrong. Most overseas buyers in France buy via estate agents, as they are more likely to encounter someone who speaks English. Obviously, only if your French is good enough should you attempt to handle your property search on your own. But you need to know that most French estate agents work primarily for house sellers—not buyers like you. So, because they are contractually engaged by sellers, most of the time agents (however nice they may be socially) will in the end take the side of the ‘real’ customer—the seller. Only buyer’s agents will represent you– the buyer.
Can I choose my agent?
Absolutely. Remember that the same property is usually handled by lots of different agents. If you like one agent better than another (whatever the reason maybe) you are free (by law) to choose which one you wish to work with. You should know that you are not bound to stick with the listing agent who has shown you a specific property first. Also, some agents will ask you to sign a « bon de visite »: this is for their own protection against indelicate buyers who may try to get in touch directly with property owners (or the other way around).
Who pays the commission?
French law states that the commission is deducted from the sale’s price by the notaire at the time of the final agreement. That’s why some people say that the buyer pays the agent’s fee. But in truth, it is the owner who hires the listing agent – and who pays for his professional services out of the sales proceeds. Obviously, if you choose to hire a buyer’s agent, you will have to pay their fee.
Should I use a property finder?
The reason you may should choose a property finder over a traditional agent is that you need real hard advice to help you conduct your purchase—and you should never forget that traditional (listing) agents don’t work for you, they work for the seller. With dozens of estate agents in Uzège (and thousand in France), buyers don’t need help accessing properties - but whittling the numbers down takes time. A property finder might go and see 10 houses then tell the buyer that 8 are rubbish, and only two are worth viewing.
Are property finders only for people with large budgets?
Many people assume that the paid buyer’s agent service is only for clients with higher budgets, but professional property finders will take on clients with all budgets as long as their wish list seems realistic – which is established during a no-commitment first meeting or phone conversation.
Can I get help to complete a private sale?
Most good property finders (when they are consultants as well as registered real estate agents) will be happy to discuss with you a consultancy assignment by which they would help with some of the things you cannot do alone to close a private sale. Ask!