We have been house hunting since met July and have met both very good and some not so good agents. We have been shown properties that have no resemblance to the photographs and the worst properties visited include those with tenants occupying them, unprepared to let buyers see all the property or make it difficult to view.
As this will be our final purchase,(we hope) after living in many countries worldwide, we want to make the right decision. Any more advice from individuals regarding the estate agent world who have been helpful to members of SFN would be very helpful as we are becoming very disillusioned. We have travelled up to 2 hours in any direction in our current search and have several more to see over the coming weeks. It was our hope to find and make an offer before Christmas, but, as the days drag on and more and more properties arrive on the market it beccomes increasingly difficult.
We did find somewhere recently that was an ideal renovation project (we are looking at both ends of the market but must have land as we keep pigs and have two cows in calf in our current rented property, leased until July 2016). Unfortunately, after we had placed a (cash) offer in writing which we thought reasonable in comparison with similar properties on the market and despite a right-of-way crossing the land; we were then told by the agency that actually there was an offer made earlier in the last month, that was still on the table - for the FULL asking price (?) - the property concerned only had two rooms (loads of potential though) and needed a lot of work obviously. There is no compromis de vente; the apparentlly elderly French seller is under the impression, thanks to the agency, that a mysterious buyer, prepared to pay the full asking price is goint to return, cash in hand early in 2016. As it is a sole agency transaction, and they have also refused our request to take our builder with us to review our own offer, we have to walk away.
Some comments I would make to other property seekers:-
1. Use agencies recommended by successful buyers.
2. Ask any Agents for dates of on-line photographs.
3. Ask how long the property has been on the market (not just with its current agency).
4. If possible, talk to neighbours for a number of reasons, - introduce yourself; see if they are willing to give you information on the area; find out if you might like to live next door.
5. Ask to see plan cadastral prior to driving two hours (only to find "adjacent" land, in fact a)miles away b) in 6 plots dotted all over the landscape c) youhave to cross neighbouring fields to reach it
6. Always ask if the land is rentedor used informally - walk away if it is.(land used by others can be rented by them for 9 years and rights passed on to family.
7. Ask if sitting tenants are a) cooperative and b) what agreement they have to move out.
8. Ask the agent to remember to bring the keys (2 instances).
9. If you make an appointment, then keep it - expect the agent to do the same.
10. Some notaries will give you a fairly good valuation for frhe ee on the understanding they will do the work on your purchase. This prevented us from making a huge mistake in value.
11.Offer 1/3rd less than full asking price. Be prepared to increase slightly ONLY. Check similar properties in the area to compare prices.
12. Empty properties usually mean very keen sellers!
13. Talk to the vendor if the agent lets you (Many do not).
14. Whether an agent is good or bad does not depend on nationality.
15. If you are looking in a specific area, try and find some English/English speaking (we do speak french) people living locally to get their opinion on the area.
16. If you are interested in the property, talk to the local Mayor - just to introduce yourself.
17. If your French is good, do not tell the agents (sneaky I know,but it has revealed some facts occasionally) unless you really trust the agent.
18.Visit the property at different times - i.e.between 12-2 te local school yard is noisy, and it will be from 7:30 am-9:00; traffic is busy 8-9ish and from 4:00 pm. Visit when its raining or very cold.
19. House buying is the same all over the world - NEGOTIATE.
An agent in the UK whom we really like, once said "Buyers are liars"..... so are some sellers, Estate agents and banks, do not be ruled by your hearts. Use common sense. If its too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are a seller, please note that buyers do like to see ALL the rooms, they really appreciate a little tidying up (not asking for a "dressed house", but please shove the dirty laundry under the bed and preferably make the bed). Removal of the 6 rusting cars outside may help. You are trying to sell, please make our visit welcome - its not our fault you are moving.