Buying in france

Hi I`m a newbie

Currently marketing my house as I`ve taken early retirement from GP (for SO many reasons) in order to retire to France. Iwould like to hear from others about what is considered an acceptable point to begin negociating for a house in France without causing offence. I realise that this is in some ways an unanswerable individual question but what degree of discount is considered reasonable as a general rule?

Money is money in any language. You want to buy as cheaply as possible...they want to sell for as much as they can get. The Asking price is what it is worth to you - if the sellers take offence, thats their problem.

We bought last year at 25% below the asking price. The agent had already told us the vendor would accept 10% below, but we went in a lot less knowing the house was empty and had been on the market for two years.

Certainly 10 to 15% won't offend. The longer the property has been offered for sale, then the lower you can go below the advertised price. Trick is to do your homework in the locality of the particular property by making enquiries of neighbours and the local bar / shop owners. Many vendors will switch selling agents after a time, so a property that has only been with the current agent for a few months could well have been on the market for several years. Time of year is also a factor in some areas. Pick a time when there are few buyers around and you can go lower than otherwise may be the case. Also good to see how many other properties in the locality have For Sale boards up ---- the more on offer then the cheaper the price. In certain cases you could easily go to 30 or 40% under in some circumstances. There is currently a property at the end of our street that failed to sell at a repo auction that had a minimum bid of 30,000 two years ago. It is still empty and deteriorating and is now offered by an agent for 50,000. So bidding at 50% under would not be unreasonable for that one. Just depends on the particular circumstances.

In general, the best way to avoid causing offence over price is NEVER to discuss it with anyone other than the agent or the Notaire, and in rural areas this includes the time AFTER you have made the purchase, because you never quite know who is related to whom in the village.

Have fun.

HI Robert,

I am a professional property finder and I usually answer this question saying there is no rule.

In France properties are averagely sold 10 % under the asked price. But estate agents know that, so you can roughly calculate they will overprice 10 % minimum. That means that 20% is quite fair if the owner sells through an agent.

If the owner sells by himself, he usually valuates the property at the price of his dreams and won't go back to reality easily. That's where intelligence is critical as Michelle said.

Good to know: there is less than 2 buyers for one property in rural France, so the risk of gazumping is very low. Therefore, you can make an apparently offensive offer, receive a no and be called back six months later. Patience is money...


Do your homework -assess what work needs to be done (septic tank -8-10,000, electricity update, new bathroom etc) 25% below asking, would be a reasonable starting point, given the market. As others have said -depends on location, time on the market, condition of house.

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We've bought some houses to rent out - all needing work and all from motivated sellers and got them all much less than the asking price - We have asked agents to look out for this sort of house and not been in any hurry to spend our money or been afraid to make "silly" offers.

Results so far

House 1 owner gone into retirement home, relitives looking to sell quickly, recently on market, asking price €28,000, purchage price €19,500

House 2 inherated house, been empty 7 years with damp getting in causing rot in ground floor. Asking price €72,000 purchase price €16,000

House 3 parisian holiday home . Put nice new double glazed windows in and rewired, but then left closed up for 5 years which resulted in a mushroom outbreak which looked much worse than it was. Aking price €42,000 Purchase price €19,500

So you can get a lot more off if you are cheeky and they want to sell and the agent wants their commision - but you have to be happy to walk away if the offer is refused, it's no use getting emotionaly involved with the house first.

I was discussing prices with an French estate agent 2 weeks ago. She said that all prices advertised throughout France, are now far to high. They now expect to be offered at least 20 to 25% less than the asking price on every property, no matter what the price. That's great for those of us looking to buy in the next few months, but not so good for those of you looking to sell, and recoup the money you have spent on your property.

I wouldn't worry about offending. The French typically make cheeky offers. That means realtors typically set sky-high asking prices. It seems to be more of a game here than you might expect. In Paris, where lots of things sell, it is easy to figure out a fair market value but in the countryside, where things move slowly, who knows? I agree with the suggestion that you not get emotionally involved. I have always worked with realtors because I appreciate having some distance between buyer and seller. Also a good realtor can give a rough estimate of the cost of any work to be done. Look at a lot of places. Keep looking even while you are negotiating. Good luck.

We were told by an agent that they tried to restrict advertised prices to somewhere between 10% and 20% above what the selling agent thought was a sensible price. But they often had to battle with clients who wanted a higher price.

We offered at 25% off and ended up agreeing about 22% off but we had an English seller in a hurry because they could see the euro was weakening fast.

good luck!

You could logically rent for a year or two while you waited for the bargain

That's not true Paul. If one makes a silly offer it will just be refused. A sensible offer will open up the possibility of negotiation.

Also Robert remember that in France exclusivity for the estate agent seems to be the exception rather than the norm. When I was house hunting I found several properties that had different prices with different agents.

That's OK for investment properties Tom but if one has spent a long time searching for a "home" and finally found just what one wants I don't think so easy to be dispassionate. Especially if there's two of you making the decision.

Perhaps you've misunderstood my point John. The value of anything one buys is what it is worth to you. You may like a painting valued at €100,000k - and pay that sum. Someone else may look at the same painting and wouldn't pay twopence for it -'s value is what it is worth to you. I wouldn't (and haven't) suggested making a silly offer.

Indeed so John. You are quite correct in saying that. Having been a seller here myself twice in the past, I can confirm that there is no point at all in giving a particular agent exclusivity. There is certainly no advantage to the seller what so ever as far as I could determine. Giving exclusivity just ties one arm behind your back from the sellers point of view. There is no doubt that the selling agent pitches the price according to the area where they will be doing their advertising simply because a Parisien is likely to pay a higher price for a rural property than someone who already lives there. Certainly with the last property I sold, an English Estate Agency was quite open about the fact that they were going to increase the price by 30% purely because they advertise their listed properties in London. From the buyers point of view it must always therefore be better to use an agent who is local to the property being sold, and who is also French. I think the situation can be best summed up by saying that he who speaks French, and lives locally, pays the least.

When selling, a private ad placed at the right time in a London evening paper can work wonders.

I agree, but if you are buying with your heart you will probably end up paying through your nose !

It is all to easy to fall in love with one property - but if you have patience there will be something else just as good around later.


I know Tom, wise words but the number of times my heart has ruled my head in transactions (especially concerning cars and one particular boat ten years ago) is embarrassing to reflect on. It's amazing how one can manage to rationalise what is, in effect, a silly decision.

John ,

If you're getting emotional, it may be time to ask a realtor to negotiate on your behalf. Tell him/her about your love at first sight with the house but let him distance you from the seller. Otherwise the latter will take advantage of that.

A realtor is not free but you can ask to pay him/her according to the price reduction he will get you. That's what I offer my customers to avoid linking my fees to the sellling price. Not all realtors do that.

You can also ask an "expert immobilier" to valuate the house. It will cost you between 200 and 500 € to get a financial "red line" not to be crossed.


Good advice Christian which I'll keep in mind. I'm happy in my current house but will probably move either to one on less land or maybe even an apartment in due course.