A plea for moral support

I don’t post on here often as my husband and I are still trying to find our home in France. We have already had one offer fall through and we are now in the throes of trying to get another offer accepted.

I guess I am just looking to share my pain with people who will understand it. I know that things move slowly in France but boy is it painful! We put an offer in on a property through immobilier notaire a couple of weeks ago. The first offer was rejected after a week which we expected, the second offer which was put in over a week ago we have had no response (from the notaire’s agent that is) despite chasing for updates - they don’t even bother to respond and say “we have heard nothing from the vendor”!

The problem is that we have another property that we will offer on if this doesn’t work out but we are worried we might lose both at the rate this is going.

Anyway, not being anywhere near a fluent French speaker (but trying to learn) I am going to practice my lines and give the notaires office a call this afternoon - after they have finished their two hour lunch of course.

Thanks for listening!


I’m with you on that one Vivienne - if you don’t want to pay an agent then look privately, I’ve bought 4 times in France privately doing all the work myself, if you use an agent then you should/have to pay them. also the point about putting multiple offers in… quite a few french poeple in the property market, including notaires have made it very clear that it isn’t the done thing to do and seems to be, in their eyes, something that only british buyers do and that gets right up their nose to put it politely! and the cooling off period is 7 days BUT doesn’t apply to building plots! and yes, sign the CdV by post if you’re not in the area/country.


I knew that it was only the Buyer who has the cooling off right of retraction but hadn’t given much thought to how signing the CdV in the UK rather than at the Notaires was going to work, so that is very useful - thanks! It’s most likely the way we will go…if we ever get to that point!

Latest update is that offer on second house was rejected and the owner has increased the amount that he wants. Need to speak to hubby who is on a training course today to decide what to do…

Just to further clarify … its only THE BUYER that has the cooling off “right of retraction” . Once the vendor has signed the compromis he is legally committed to selling it to the buyer at that price.

Maria - just to clarify an earlier point. the 'cooling off period" is seven days …which is easy to calculate if you both sign the CdV together in person at an Office ( either Notaire or Agency ) but … if it is done ‘at a distance’ … ie the Notaire/Agency first sends the compromis to the buyer, who signs and returns … it only comes into effect once the buyer has been informed that the seller has also signed the compromis, and acknowledges this by signing for the recorded delivery letter. So it can sometimes take two weeks or more !! ( another example of where life in France needs a patient approach !! lol. … I work also as an independent Agent Commercial, and as you can see Jon, I’m checking my mails on a Sunday evening !! ( a good ind. Agent is ALWAYS working !! )

Jon, you are right, she is good, or has been so far anyway. Her partner is English and she lived in the UK for a number of years so she seems pretty switched on to what we demanding, impatient Anglais want (said firmly tongue in cheek!) :slight_smile:

Only problem is we don’t get to use our stumbling French much as her English is so good!

Thanks Suzanne, appreciate the kind words!

Our agent on our property went to the Maire on our behalf to apply for planning permission (it was one of the condition suspensive’s in our compromis that we obtained permission to build a roof terrace).

I agree that agents can be extremely helpful, especially if you are not permanently in France or comfortable negotiating directly. For a lot of overseas buyers using an agent is worth the money, but once you’re here and you’ve done it once then going direct is an option providing you saw their panel outside the house & didn’t view via an agent.

I know a couple of estate agent friends and they have to do a lot of work for their money so if you use one, then be prepared to pay them in my view.

We have a thread on this under the House Hunters group, please do add your contributions there about your experience with good/bad agencies/notaires and the buying process.



Vivien, I agree with you, even though the fees seem high to me and the temptation is there to go directly to the vendor (on the second property) as we have found their contact details, we did view this with estate agent (though in our car at our suggestion) and have gone back to the agent to tell them we are interested in making an offer. I do expect to get something for my money though as I also work hard to earn it. We definitely don’t need a tourist guide but I guess unfortunately alot of people treat it like that. We didn’t sign a bon de viste, but we were not asked to. For us that is beside the point.

Anyway, the agent responded immediately to my email this evening and we are going to talk tomorrow. It’s nice to feel that our custom is valued. She is also a nice lady and very helpful and I hope that it works out for all of us!


Hello Alastair,
as a hard working estate agent working on a commission only basis I have to say that your comment about by-passing the agent even if you have signed a bon de visite is not only upsetting but not strictly true. In the last agency I worked in there were several cases of this happening which were taken to court and the agent always won, so beware!
I personally put in a lot of time and expense, finding properties, spending time with clients who are often just looking for a tourist guide, running up huge phone bills, sitting at my computer for hours, liaising with the buyers and sellers, organizing bank accounts, edf, internet etc etc after the sale, not to mention the petrol bill and the hours of driving involved.
I prefer to deal with honest people, don’t you?

It’s funny, but I feel quite relieved now the offer has been refused, I guess it’s just good to know where we stand and now can move on as suggested above.

Alastair, that is helpful, I did know most of it but I thought the cooling off period was 7 days not 10. We will stick with one offer at a time, it’s not like we have seen many properties that we have wanted to buy and ultimately we are not in a hurry and don’t have to sell a property.

Round two starts tomorrow!

I used to work in an estate agency here in France.
Here are some tactics/info that may help. Sorry if you are already aware of all this

Even if you sign a bon de viste, saying that you visted the property with the agent, and will not go directly to the seller, these are not recognised in law. So you can bypass the agent ( not a good idea when notaire and agent are the same)
However, if you dont speakee de french, an agent who can speak english will be a lot of help and worth their fee.

If you offer the asking price the vendors are obliged to sell, they cant pull out or take it off the market.

if an offer is accepted, its not legally accepted until the compromis de vente or first signing has happend, up to this, another agent or buyer direct can gazump you. Our agency had the right to run the compromis ourselves, which avoided waiting for ages to get a Notaires meeting, and reduced this risk.
After the compromis is signed, only the buyer can get out of the sale , not the seller.

reason to get out are:

  1. 10 days cooling off
  2. A loan that was specified being refused.
  3. A clause saying If my house doesnt sell, I wont buy, etc etc

Lastly dont be afraid of putting multiple offers in on different houses, remember until you are at tehat Notaires compromis meeting, you are not committed, not matter what offer you have signed.

Also a call to the agent saying that you have put an offer in elsewhere, will, I assuere you speed things up.

Trust this helps

Well done! Good luck with the next one!

Well it has all turned out to be a moot point - the vendors are not willing to budge on the price and we truly don’t feel that it is worth what they are asking so we are going to move onto the other property. At least I finally got a clear answer from the agent!

Thanks everyone and have a good weekend!

if you are looking to buy in the tarn district we have our house up for sale privately.

Patience in France is a virtue. Don’t hesitate to call them though

Hi Ann

We are looking in Finistere, in the centre near Huelgoat which is a beautiful area.

Unfortunately we didn’t think to put a time limit on our offers so far but intended to for the next one. We have been emailing the estate agent at the notaires and I think he has been emailing the vendor. I have asked him for clarification as to whether he has actually spoken to them but I will just have to wait and see if I get a reply…

Thanks for the friendly ear! :slight_smile:


I am talking about the negociation fees that notaire estate agents charge - not the fees that the notaire charges for the equivalent of conveyancing - I know they are fixed - as I said, we have done a lot of research on buying a house in France in the last year :slight_smile:

To be honest, we know the name of the owner as the notaires estate agent gave us copies of the search documents as these had been done recently because they had an offer fall through. But we have no other contact details s the address on the searches is for the property in France. The owners live in the UK and use the property as a holiday home. Will bear you advice in mind though.

It seems that the notaire is not quite doing their job very well, as usually when an offer is made they answer comes back very quickly. Over a week is way too much! Was it a written or oral offer? Because if it’s written, there must be stated somewhere how long the offer is good for until the seller responds. I used to do translating and interpreting for a Notaire and it always went very quickly!

Glad to listen and hope everything works out for you. Where are you looking to buy?



Notaires fees are fixed regardless of the amount of work they do.

If you did find out the name of the owner and dropped it into your next conversation with the agent, he might be shocked into becoming a bit more active