Real vs. advertised costs of property

Hi there!

I’m new on this forum so thank you again for your patience!

I will be starting my property hunt in the French Alps this year and I have a question for the more experienced people out there. I heard something that I would like to get confirmed. A colleague told me that the difference between the “real” price of a plot or a property can be quite different from the advertised price online, particularly when the seller is targeting foreigners. How much, on average, would you say that the price of a property can be negotiated down from whats shown online?

The underlying story behind this is that apparently there is a rule in France that if someone offers the seller the asking price, they are obliged to sell so the seller lists a much higher price than what they would be happy to sell for. Can anyone confirm or debunk?

Thanks in advance!

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It’s perfectly true that under French law, if a buyer offers the asking price then the seller is legally obliged to accept the offer.
I don’t follow the rest of your logic. Why would a seller list a property at price lower than they would be happy to sell for, what would be the sense in that?
To answer your question - well you’ve answered it yourself really. If a seller is targeting foreigners/living in dreamland and advertising their property at a grossly inflated price, you should be able to negotiate it down a lot, provided the seller is prepared to become realistic. However if a seller has set a realistic price to start with, or already reduced the asking price, they may not be willing to take less. There’s no hard and fast rule and “on average” would be a bit meaningless, it all depends on the property and the seller.

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Hi Anne,

Sorry if I wasnt clear and again, thank you for your patience :slight_smile:
I didnt mean that the seller would list below what they would be happy to sell for , what I meant was that I heard the seller would often list a price significantly above what they would be happy to sell for. Of course this is not uncommon elsewhere but apparently the cases can be extreme in France where buyers sometimes managed to buy a property for 40% less than was advertised online, which is far more than I have experienced in other countries.


It would make sense following your comment about the seller being obliged to sell if someone offers the asking price to always list far above the “real” price. What I am curious about is how cheeky the sellers are in their inflation of that real price :slight_smile:

If you do your research about the local market you can easily spot inflated prices… and there are many guides that give the average cost-per square metre for each area. Usually broken down into flats and houses, and then new, old or renovated properties. So if something is on offer for an exceptionally high cost per sq metre you need to ask why.

It is said that the official price would be low with the expectation that a “side deal” was done with monies passing directly from buyer to seller “under the table” - that way tax on the property was only paid on the lower “official” figure.

How much this actually went on I have no idea - I’m not clear it benefits the seller too much, though obviously it benefits the buyer.

To what extent it is current today I do not know - I could see it happening in a completely private deal between buyer and seller but not where an estate agent is involved - which I am sure is the majority of transactions.

For various reasons I offered our seller his asking price and there was no hint of any expectation of a clandestine arrangement.

With our our house, we negotiated a price for the house and then a price for the extras we were buying at the same time - which didn’t attract tax. It was a private sale, so no estate agent. But these items were carefully listed by the notaire, so not inventions, although the price for each item was perhaps top of the range :wink:. It included things like pieces of furniture. Buyer was happy as they got the price they wanted, we were happy as saved us a small amount of tax, notaire was happy as all legal.

I am in the process of doing this right now. It seems that its a bit of a “free for all”. Some comments saying the vendor would be offended if a low price was received and some saying try it on with a cheeky offer.

The Immo I met on Sat couldn’t have been less interested in the property. Knew relatively nothing about the circumstances and didn’t really engage. At the lower end of the market where margins are lower, they aren’t really interested as the profit is lower. I get it.

best of luck Andre

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Sometimes a cheeky offer really does win out.

In the adjoining commune an offer of 45k was made and refused. The property had been empty and on the market for a few years, hence the low offer - anyway it eventually went to auction.

The property sold for 15k at auction, to the people who had offered 45k :rofl::hugs:

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Karma :slight_smile:

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Try to be flexible on what you are looking for, very difficult to find all you want in just one property.
We know of several people that have found a ‘bargain’ with a cheeky offer.
Good luck :crossed_fingers:

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Or you could do what we did…have no plan to buy but fall for a lovely little house while on a short break and go for it.
No tick list to fill, no previous idea of what might work, just a feeling it’s for us.
Its either brave or stupid, I’ll leave you to decide on that, but I’ve lived my life on impulse and intuition and it’s done me okay so far!!


Hey @Julia261 Thats quite a story. I commend you for following your gut instinct. I’m not so good at that, but I am trying.

We are embarking on our French Odyssey and goodness knows what it holds in store for us.

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All waiting in the notary now. Can’t wait for it all to complete.
Good luck with your purchase!