Estate agents - Who do they work for? Seller or Buyer - Legal rules?

I am trying to find out if there is any French governing body, other than FIAM, that provides guidelines and rules to which an estate agency or property company should abide. And any form of ombudsman or complaint group (other than a legal advisor)… We have been told that it is a French estate agency’s duty to disclose the type of sale: i.e. regular vendor-seller; tenant in occupation; liquidation sale etc. prior or at the time of offer. We are trying to confirm this with little or no success. Any help appreciated or guidance. This is needed for friends in the UK who are potential purchasers. Thanks.

Hi Lizz,

You can find everything here : Estate agent legal duties
In a nutshell:

  • He must be registered and have a “carte professionnelle” that mentions whether he is competent for sales only, or sales and property management, etc.
  • His fees must be displayed at his agency or on his website if he is active solely online.
  • He must have a mandate either from the vendor or the purchaser (search mandate).
  • He has to provide the purchaser all available information about the property. He must notably warn the purchaser about visible defects and the results of the various diagnostics (abestos, lead, termites, etc…). Nevertheless, he cannot be held responsible for the hidden defects.
    Regarding the owner, if the estate agent prepares the compromis de vente or the promesse de vente (he is entitled to), he will be held liable for all mentions on this document. that’s why he has to check the vendor’s property deed.

Hope this will help.

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Sorry, I forgot. There is no governing body but associations that set professional rules for their members to abide to. Joining one of these associations is optional.

Christian, I wonder if you could help us, we saw a house, put an offer in
that was accepted by the owners. At the time we had no idea it was a
liquidation sale and the agents kept on telling us the compromis de vente
was nearly ready, the manager was doing it, there was a slight delay for
three months as our lease nearly expired on our rental property…as the
days dragged on they eventually told us to go to a court in Angouleme with
a 10% deposit cheque and that was the first time the court made it known to
us it was a liquidation sale. they had all our particulars, our french bank
account details and the case went to court in 2 mins, allowing us to buy
the property. Our own notaire was befuddled but he received all the court
papers at the last moment and we signed and agreed to everything as we were
told and handed over the money.

The house diagnostics were not worth the paper they were written on, we had
to have new electrics, new plumbing and many other faults we were unaware
of. It has to be blunt cost us a small fortune, now we think they should
have told us it was a liquidation sale at the time we made our offer, if
not before. It would have made a difference to the amount we offered in the
first place, let alone the 7 months it took to complete.

If you could shed any light, I would be so grateful, only knowing our
rights would help.

regards Liz

In response to the original question, they ONLY work for themselves.

I think you might have hit the nail on the head there!

I wouldn’t claim extensive experience in the French property market, and with apologies to any agents who are reading this but it strikes me that, typically appointed by the vendor but paid for by the buyer they seem to consider themselves immune to actually doing anything or bearing any responsibility.

Thankfully our purchase went through without significant issue but we wound up paying the agent something like 9k€ for a couple of viewings, a boiler plate compromis and, er…, not much else.

Goodness only knows what would happen if some outfit like Purple Bricks had a serious go at the French market.

Liz, I am not a specalist of liquidation sale. Let my think a little about this.



You should have been told the property was a liquidation sale buy I guess the agent would claim that they did and it was lost in translation.

When you went to court alarm bells should have started ringing and at that point you should have told the judge that you were not aware at any stage that this was a liquidation sale and it could have ended there. Unfortunately you signed.

In terms of the diagnostics, they simply tell what the current state of the property is and how you interpret that information is up to you. But unless the property is new or has been renovated it is a GIVEN when buying property in France that electrics and plumbing need to be redone so you always factor that into any offer you make. If the diagnostics misled you then you could have claimed against the diagnostic company but you have rectified all the faults. So it is to late.

In terms of the other serious faults (vice caché) that were hidden the owner should have told you about them. If you were not than you could claim against the former owner. Your insurance company would do this. Trouble is it sounds like you have fixed them. To late.

So basically, you are going waste time, energy and money trying to take legal action against whoever you think is responsible. But looking at this objectively, you are with respect partly to blame for your naivety. You could see a solicitor just for your own peace of mind but I can’t see them saying anything accept dropping it. If they did take it on it will take years to sort out and cost you a fortune.

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