Innovative ideas on house selling in France!

As there had been a fair bit of discussion at the start of this year on property selling on this site, I appealed for innovative ideas on how to sell our small house in the Aude. I am delighted to advise that despite delays caused by the French summer, we have today finalised the sale of this house and handed over the keys to the charming new buyers. It was sold direct - which delighted by OH no end. While I am the first to admit the £:euro position has helped, there is still an awful lot of property out there waiting to be sold so if anyone wants to find out what worked for me, just drop me a line! Excuse me while I put away all those cleaning materials and return to my glass of blanquette!

If you have signed a 'form' as a buyer, I guess you mean the 'bon the visite' proving that this agency has showed you the house, you can not buy directly from the owner anymore. However, if you find the same house for sale with another broker, but for a lower price, this probably means this other broker asks less commission. You have the right to switch realtor and go to the other AI. The first agency will kick and scream, but the law is clear, you are allowed to make the competition work. Of course you can also tell the first agency that you've seen the same house cheaper elsewhere, to make him relinquish part of his commission as well. And then you still have the right to haggle, to try and get the price of the owner down.
Normally sellers have calculated in at least 10% 'haggle space', so start with an offer about 20/25% under the asking price to give you room to manoeuvre. So if the property is listed for 200.000, offer 155.000. Look on the big property sites to find comparable houses in the region and compare prices (still taking in consideration that these are all asking prices, not the amounts the houses will eventually be sold for.

The average time to sell is between 3 and 6 months, but on Immogo (for sale by owner exclusively) we have houses that have been for sale for two years, with 20 or more information requests, and still no sale. The sellers are often a bit optimistic about the asking price, or to stubborn to go down. Or they are shocked about a low offer and refuse to take the interested buyer seriously. So in stead of negotiating, they slam the door.

We often see that when the seller has tried to sell for a year or so on Immogo, and then decides to take a real estate agent after all, the house is sold through the agent relatively quickly. Not because Immogo didn't work, but because the agents 'talks' the price down from the start, and helps the seller cope with low offers and the negotiation. So then we earn nothing, because we only get paid 1% in case the seller came through us. And when we ask about the final selling price, it is often 30% or more below the asking price on Immogo. Go figure.

In view of a lot of what has been said (it'seems a bit of a minefield !)....when one has seen and already viewed the ideal property (and lost ones heart to it but trying to remain calm).....what does one do where the seller has listed his/her property with numerous agents....but I have already viewed the property, therefore have signed 'the form'.....

I am worried that someone who has contacted through another agency will get there first.....Is it a good idea to make contact with the other agencies to make clear my very strong interest.?....or is that a 'no-no'....

As luck would have it I have only just listed my own property for sale....(makes me all the more anxious about missing the boat on this one)....Does anyone have any figures on the average tim it takes to sell up and buy in France ?....and does the signing of contracts and moving day business work the same way as in England ?

Nope wont work using Barbara's post...I get this message....

This error is commonly encountered when a read lock is set on the file that you are attempting to open. Possible reasons for this:
Another user has the file open, either on the same computer that you are using, or on another computer.
Word crashed at some point in the past and left a read lock on the file.
Another application has an exclusive lock on the file, preventing Word from opening the file.
A custom application is running and has opened this file (possibly on another user's computer). It may have opened the file using an incorrect method.
To correct this problem, close all applications, restart Word

Please send methe link direct...


Hi John

Our property was in an agents window in the centre of our local town. It generated 3 enquiries after which the agent seemed to give up - despite regular chats with my husband. When I put the house with an additional agent who also posted on the French-property website, I achieved 3 times more viewings than them - and the price wasn't massively different!

As you say, different methods for different people!

Hi Hilary

I hope you find the info of use. I hated being reliant of agents who did very little - just gave me reasons why the property wouldn't sell. My actions tripled viewings and got the sale!

Hi Zoe

Several people seem to have been able to access the information I posted to Barbara Dene's enquiry on page one of this posting. If that doesn't work, please feel free to send me your email and I will send you the info direct. I'm on Good luck!

This is very timely for me Jane.....

I have been thinking abou the prospect of moving for some time (now that I've lived here for a while, I realise that I have taken on too much, physically & financially), so, despite liking the immediate environment and a good group of my French neighbours, the proximity to Bergerac & Lalinde and the fact that it's not isolated, I am keen to sell.

I know that i will have to take a 'financial hit' pricewise, compared to the price I paid in 2007, but after a very recent visit to a more northerly department in order to see a property that I had already discovered on the internet and was keen on , plus a couple of other potentially interesting viewings, I have 'fallen' for the one I was/am now very keen on.

So, like you, I am keen to try and sell direct (that seems to be the preferred method of several of my French neighbours nearby) ....have just written a detailed and (I hope), persuasive ad.....but interested in your experience.

I'll try uploading your advice from the other post....

Thanks for nice !

Hello Jane, have just seen your post. We’ll be pleased to hear from you re ways that we can promote/ sell our property. Thanks in advance. Zoe

The most pertinent part of your common sense advice is;

Our buyers said they knew as soon as they walked into our house that this was the house for them…

The right buyers walked into your home. There are many ways that that can be made to happen, private advertising and web sites, leboncoin, expat forums, estate agents etc., etc., etc. There is no one way that could guarantee that those buyers, or others like them will ever see your property. I bought my house through agents, it was a photo in their window. The support and advice that they gave me during the purchase was superb and the simple, seamless process could have been a nightmare without their help. They were worth every cent.
Different approaches work for different people in different situations and it is always interesting to see how other people have fulfilled their aims. Thank you for sharing your experience.

The Devil is in the detail!

"Sold as seen" is standard - it is the way (some) agents will try to prevent a buyer from arriving at a better understanding of what they're looking at that forms my question.

It never ceases to amaze me at how careless folk can be when dealing with their own money;- The need to learn more about a major capital asset is before signing any contracts..... even if it simply leads to having a few conditions inserted into the initial paperwork......

If I ever find a fair answer, I'll share on SFN, of course.

Ho hum...... "caveat emptor", as they say.

p.s. Brian, you need to tell your sweep to move up here..... after another fruitless week of waiting our flue is still in need of its summer brush! The 'plumber position' (stay in all day and nobody comes) is rapidly becoming the 'sweep posture'...

Yep, pretty well sums things up.

Not necessarily for you except the first paragraph David.

Actually age does not inhibit web skills. There is a couple down the way who both 'retired' from farming at about 80 two years ago. The husband bought his first ever computer from some of the sale of land, milking sheds and so on then some of us (late 60s moi) popped in and out. This is somebody who had never touched a typewriter and only written what was necessary since leaving school aged 14. Apart from dairying regulations the family had no books and bought the weekly local paper which they 'looked at' but basically had out of loyalty. Anyway, he got going and soon got the hang but then his wife was curious and wanted a go now and again so in the end they bought a second PC. They are now teaching other members of the farming community in this district how to use computers, designed a simple website and are helping the poor buggers who are broke and have to sell up by using leboncoin or putting up blogs. So, you can. I don't count because I have evolved use as the infernal machines developed so would be biased.

You remind of one point there. 'Exclusive mandates'. The bit I have held back thus far is that it is her indoors who is a part-time agent, simply because the last crisis all but killed off our work which has still not entirely picked up. In point of fact she does not like the job but she seems to be very good at it. In fact, although part time she is one of the top agents in France for the people she works for and in the 'league' agents construct to look at what each other are doing, her position often works out with her being in the top 80 or thereabouts in the whole country. There are things she does. Firstly she refuses to have anything to do with exclusive mandates which basically mean the agency holding that get paid whether they sell or not, so that paying out more commission is the outcome. Some take 50% of the commission but others insist on the full amount thus the selling agent often has to reduce commission after doing the work. It includes when an agency put it up after the initial agent visit and never go again, no viewings or anything. They will also demand the commission if the vendor sells themselves. There is one particular agency who try to get all of their local agents to get exclusive with some other kind of mandate they call a 'professional mandate' that ensures they get money and push for people to renew every three months or so. They occasionally take people doing a tour of properties to view even if the people would have no interest whatsoever, just to get a bon de visit to prove they are working for the vendor. So she says keep out of them. She also recommends some people go to other agents as well, no exclusive mandate with any of them though, and make sure the mandate is open enough for whoever sells to get the commission without a competitor claiming any.

Before the sale starts she checks all diagnostics, will call in the people, then checks what is in outside buildings. She has more than once found piles of decaying white asbestos sheets, so asks for the people to get in a contractor to have it removed and the building cleaned out by them before any diagnostic work. The point is that there are people who do these things and that is where she also benefits from a reputation that is getting her more mandates than she actually wants because of other work particularly. Anyway, once sales are near completion or completed she then helps with electricity, water, gas if it is there, ordering heating fuel of whatever nature, telephone advising on local schools, doctors and other things. She works closely with the notaires. Now they are finding her vendors, beside people she sells for and to advising others to go to. The consequence is that by being above board a few local competitors have pulled their socks up, although the one thinks the way they have gone toward the aggressive and quite ruthless is better (like heck), so that now there are happy buyers and sellers instead of people who feel aggrieved. Quite a few of her colleagues are equally helpful and honest, indeed the one who is usually top of the agency's sellers but who works 18 hour days, is one of the people who started her on that trajectory. She gets so many requests for taking on properties that she gives them away to colleagues and people with other agencies she trusts.

Anyway, what these people all do is insist on very exhaustive suspensive clauses and all but signing in blood on what stays and goes, helping to make an exact inventory of both if necessary down to the bread crumbs if that need be. The agents who work that way do not necessarily sell faster than anybody else but at least they advise on prices reasonably honestly, adjust and are flexible with their commission, will stay in touch with clients, calling or visiting occasionally if they have no viewings for them and discussing changes if that will help that they do not oblige anybody to accept if they do not agree. Quite a few of the people are also multilingual rather than just vaguely bilingual although I have been called in to help with some regional dialects/accents from the UK and Germany when occasionally imperative. Otherwise all of this comes from hearing about it and sometimes giving an opinion on the ad that goes up. As Barbara said some way back, it is the property that sells, but the ad and price contribute. Agents are mediators and that is all. Those who make the pushy salesperson then do minimal work do not enhance the reputation of people who, like most other working people, actually work fairly hard and even when successful only just keep their head above water.

There will always be a number of people who are currently based abroad in places like Hong Kong, Dubai

and Australia...there are special forums where private sellers can parade their properties?

I work with a company in California which offers rentals from all over the world....they also have a For sale

section. The properties are all quirky ....lets say...or stylish. There is an initial fee to participate and a

% to be paid if you sell through their introduction. I have not listed a sale through them as yet.

In the past I have suggested to major estate agents in London to advertise French properties in

their London sites....they appoint sub agents in France....who then have sub agents.

I was once a professional voyer who visited scores of properties and took up lots

of time from the agents commercial. During this journey alone I could write a small

book about the characters I met on the way.

Oh dear's enough to put you off your breakfast....;-)

Having literally, just within the last 2 days, gone on the market, I'm already breaking into a sweat! If we were only a different generation we could 'fly' through' the process of web skills etc!....We have bought and sold 10 properties here in Poitou-Charentes in the last 12 years, ( not all our homes!) and this farmhouse property (with TIC Ruffec/Chaunay, in case anyone is interested!!), has had a viewing within 2 hours of going on-line, so don't even go there with stress for OH via cleaning and 'staging' ..with 2 more lined up within the next 5 days....

We have met with some right dodgy immo's in our time, and have, not being in a tearing hurry right now, commissioned just one non-exclusive immo (which we trust and admire), to have on their books our place 'til Spring. Because we received, from an alternative source before placing with said immo, an enquiry about the property, we ensured the immo knew of the interest and agreed a 'decent reduction' deal to be made,should this prior enquiry via internet sources lead to a purchase....

As to Notaires, I guess we have been fortunate in our choices, having used the services of 3 different ones here...Having said that - the very best piece of advise we were given, once, was to put anything and everything into the 'Compromis du Vente Clause Suspensive', that a seller may have concerns are buying a lovely place, but with a barn choc full of c**p...insist at the outset, via your Compromise, that said barn is cleared as a condition of sale! one Notaire said to us..." 80% of Immos will lie and are 'somewhat' dodgy, and therefore, for you, I don't care if your 'Clause Suspensive' runs to 4-5 pages....all the same to me, but you have to understand that, unless you have certain things in writing, here in France you will not have a leg to stand on without paperwork.." ....i.e to try to back-track and fight your corner, especially being 'Englais' (we're Welsh here,but hey-ho!) and it's a 'neigh chance'!!

...Just thought!!!

Exactly, one of the local ones who is doing the little parcel of land beside us we are buying has a secretary who is obviously not. Maître herself has wonderful habits like not being in her office when she has an appointment because the secretary has forgotten to do her diary, plus she is incapable of signing things that are prepared for her until asked several times. Nicely or the wait is longer. It is nothing to do with doing whatever to foreigners since our neighbour is buying three quarters of the entire plot and was the one who went to her... Plenty of people go to one of the others within half an hour drive and at present one is getting a lot of trade from the agent I know best because he is fast and reliable.

Many notaires don't actually do that much as all the clever stuff is done by the secretaries. A good secretary in a notaries office is worth his or her weight in gold.

Nah mate, that's the Japanese clients, but sometimes dealing with the old dragons of notaires.

Yes, to much of that, especially the beginning and end.

It was indeed Ford. He shafted more of his contemporaries than just about anybody to boot. Extraordinary how people profoundly hated in their lifetimes are fêted after their decease!