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Major differences between foreign and French real estate markets

There are no true multiple listing services (MLSs)

Currently, there is no completely unified MLS service in France. There are some small groups of agencies who work together and call themselves an MLS; however, the amount of properties that are marketed by these mini-MLS systems is approximately 5 to 10 percent of all the properties on the market.

50 percent FSBO

About 50 percent of the sales and purchases of property in France takes place directly between buyers and sellers with the aid of a French notary. There are no agents or agency fees involved. Immobiliers (Real estate agents) are only responsible for about 50% of property sales. Notaires are responsible for a further 15%. The rest are sold 'entre particuliers' meaning between buyer and seller without the help of a third party or at auction.

Mandat simple vs. mandat exclusif

The French word for a listing agreement is a “mandat de vente.” A “mandat exclusif de vente” is most likely the kind you use in your North American office. This is when one agency has the exclusive right to market the property. Approximately 5 percent of properties for sale with an agency in France use the “mandat exclusif de vente” type of listing agreement. The remaining approximately 95 percent of listings with agencies are called a “mandat de vente sans exclusivité” or a “mandat simple.” A mandate simple is a listing agreement where the owner has signed a listing agreement with multiple agencies at the same time, and the owner also retains the right to market and sell the property directly to buyers. Because so many properties with agencies are “mandat simple” you or your clients might find the same property is, in fact, listed with several agencies at different prices.

An expensive property transfer tax

When you buy a property in France, at this time, you need to have a French notary manage the transaction. The notary charges the buyer a fee, and a large portion of this fee is the property transfer tax that goes to the French government. At this time, the total cost of notary fees is approximately 8 percent of the purchase price, regardless of the value of the property. A 1 million-euro purchase equals 80,000 euros in notary fees. The only exception to this rule is that the notary fees for brand-new property purchases are less.

Language & terminology

The vast majority of real estate offered for sale, whether it is privately offered or offered by an agent, is advertised in the French language — so you need to understand the French real estate advertising terminology and be able to explain it to your English-speaking client. Google Translate will not help here.

Don’t expect the address

It is very rare for a French real estate agent to give a client (or another agent) the address of a property before they see the property with said client or agent. French agents typically set up a meeting place close to the property, and then take the clients to the property. Therefore, you will rarely find a French property address indicated on a French real estate website.

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