This is a subject that has interested me for quite some time. having studied the french property market for over 30 years and with 10 years negotiating experience here, I’ll throw my 2 pennies worth in. Indeed, vendors will naturally be over optimistic when placing a value on their property, particularly if they have perhaps paid over the odds in the first place, as was sadly the case with my clients, a lovely retired British couple , who had lived abroad before, but spoke very little French and thus relied on a local British agent to ‘hand hold’ through the process from search to signature. To cut a long story short, a 3 bedroomed detached property on a lotissement with a real value at the time of somewhere between 380,0000 and 420,000 absolutely top whack, and not previously listed on the agents own website site was ’ found’ by the agent and sold to them for 550 000. A price which pleased both the French vendor and the British agent enormously… Sadly, the couple found the language barrier difficult to overcome and after a couple of years decided to sell, engaging the same British agent… Result? Unsurprisingly 3 visits in 18 months, no offers. Other agents were offered the property, myself included (I was employed by a large all French company) with just one accepting to market the property at the same, grossly inflated price. I made it clear that with all good conscience, we would be unlikely to attract interest at the current asking price and left them with a valuation that trod a delicate line between reality and damage limitation for them. It was slowly dawning on them that they’d been well and truly ‘had’. Eventually the property was sold by another French agency at over 130,000 less than the asking price, which of course impacted their future plans considerably. They would have saved a lot of money and heartache had they paid an impartial translator to accompany them in their search for a property in France.
Sadly, this is a long way from being an isolated case and I’d be here all day if I were to recount all the horror stories!
There are other british and the occasional french agencies who seem to be trying to create a UK style property boom all on their own, with, frankly laughable asking prices for properties and which within a matter of weeks re appear at a substantial and sometimes quite unbelievable reduction. This would indicate that either:
A serious problem with the property has been found.
A real lack of professionalism and training on the part of the agent or their ‘Agent Commerciale’ if they are unable to value properties correctly.
Perhaps I’m being cynical by suggesting maybe a deliberate strategy on the part of the agency to encourage both French and British owners to sign the mandat de vente by playing on the ‘foreign buyers have bigger budgets’ myth ( particularly attractive to french vendors) or the ‘need for ease of comms’ vulnerability of British vendors and then once vendors are tied in to the contract, blaming a downturn in the market/ Brexit/ the Royal baby or whatever, for the resulting ( but perfectly normal) lack of interest in a vastly overpriced property… For any agent, an impressive portfolio is pivotal for healthy sales. It’s a numbers game and Ag Co’s are usually under pressure to bring in a minimum number of new mandats per month.
A property at the correct market price for the area - which is easily verified by good internet and local research including town plans etc ( vital for both buyers and sellers) with professional photographs, an honest description ( even more critical for overseas buyers ) and a professional translation, is a property that will normally sell within a reasonable amount of time if marketed correctly, whether by French agents, British agents or indeed your own good self, if you are willing to invest a good amount in advertising. An overpriced property will lose credibility very quickly if subject to frequent or significant reductions and thus may well sit on the market for a good while longer, even after a price reduction. It is well worth refreshing the advertising at the same time with a new set of photographs which reflect the current season, perhaps taken at different angles and also that any new improvements to the house or gardens.