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Do French Estate Agents Know How to Take a Photo?


EdF
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After several years trawling through French estate agents web sites, I am still amazed at the often appalling photos shown. I've seen a photo of a sofa against a blank wall with no other photos available, often there are photos of everthing in the house, but no photo of the outside. Apartments are often shown looking from inside towards a balcony door, but the supposed view is just a brightly lit square. No wonder some stay on the market forever.. Perhaps there should be a competition for the worst ever photo?
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[quote user="EdF"] I am still amazed at the often appalling photos shown. [/quote]

Wish you could have seen the photo of the house we bought, the ideal photo if you dont want to sell a house. The main photo was of the barn door and the larger opening above where they would have passed stuff thru for storage.

But was good for us I guess :)

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And the narrative - if they have bothered to include any - is often not a lot better... Many of them don't seem to feel the need to "sell" the property at all.

I know in the UK agents have been accused of going too far the other way, with exaggerated, if not downright misleading, descriptions (banned now, of course). But French property adverts often give very little idea as to whether the property might be remotely appropriate. This is not entirely helpful when trying to compile a shortlist of places to view from 600 miles away.    

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If the photos are rubbish the property owner has to take some of the responsibility - it is us owners who employ the agents and like most salespeople the vast majority of estate agents respond best to some gentle management and coaching.

When selling insist the agent uses your own good quality photos for at least some of their advertising if they can't come up with anything half decent.  Ultimately it is you the vendor who is paying them (handsomely) and you should demand good quality pics.  This is a depressing thread for those of us trying to sell via agents - potential buyers being dismayed by a poor service!

Every agent I have spoken to has been delighted to use my pictures (one less thing for them to do) and I am no great photographer with a cheapo camera!

Perhaps, rather than search for rubbish photos we should start a quest for which agents produce beautiful photos and excellent descriptive details...

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I found it was very common if a property had two photos available, both were the same photo only the second was taken two inches to the left. [:)]

When I was looking a few years back I found the Bluehomes site excellent, it always showed loads of photos and slide shows of each property. However,  I don't think it is as popular nowadays and has much fewer properties on the site for some reason.  In any case, we ended up buying a property without seeing any details at all. [Www]

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I once sacked a UK estate agent following a visit to his office, posing as a prospective buyer. We had had no interest in our detached 3 bed house with large garden so I wanted to see how his staff dealt with interested parties. The lady on duty that day did not know me.

When I asked what was available in a particular location (i.e. our location), I was surprised to be told they had nothing on their books in that area at present. After pointing out that I had seen an advert for a house in our road, she eventually dug out some sales particulars hidden away in a drawer.

I was even less impressed when I discovered that although the leaflet had our address and asking price on the front, the remaining particulars were for a 2 bedroom maisonette 3 miles away from our home, i.e. a completely different property!

I waited until the boss returned and pointed out it was hardly surprising that we had had no viewings. He claimed that was more to do with "market conditions".

So I went home - after withdrawing instructions - and prepared my own advert and photo for the local paper and some home-made sales particulars to give to viewers. The property was advertised just the once and was sold for the asking price within a fortnight. (I received an order from the local council to remove my unauthorised home-made For Sale board - to which I suspected the estate agent had objected - but when the council's letter arrived I had already taken down the board as by then the house was sold.)

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In the UK, I have always provided my own photos for the properties I have put up for sale.

My argument to the estate agents at the time was that, as I worked in the photo industry and I could take and print photos better and cheaper than them (our photo lab produced all the mini pics for all the estate agents in the area),  I would supply the pics and they they would reduce their fee.

Never had any argument from any of them...

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Having to be careful what I say, being married to somebody who works for a French estate agency, but I think this just reflects how things are done in France. I'm not saying it is right, but there is little appreciation of marketing principles in the industry, all stemming from an original desire not to be too specific or make a house too easy to identify, and it will take a lot to change things.

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I'm in a similar position to Will here (Mr Cat being the co-owner of several estate agencies), and I have to agree. 

In fact, I have even been known to sneak onto their website from time to time to substitute better photos, but the less said about that the better [:$]

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There is no excuse for bad photographs appearing in estate agency documents or on their websites. That said, because so many sellers insist on signing multiple mandates with a number of agencies (and at the same time reserve the right to sell privately) it is not surprising that exterior photographs - the ones a buyer really wants to see - are designed so that the property cannot be easily identified. This is to ensure that the in the event of a sale, the agency that first shows the property and has a signed 'bon de visite' from the potential buyer, can earn his commission. If a seller wants good photography then he/she should sign an exclusive mandate with only one agency and let them get on with the job of marketing the property.  

Regarding 'For Sale' signs, agency signboards are banned in certain towns (such as Collioure near where I live) for aesthetic reasons, while private boards are allowed. In other towns it is the other way round, or there is a total ban to prevent the sort of proliferation of signboards frequently encountered in the UK.

P-D de Rouffignac

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I totally agree. It can be really frustrating to see a listing with 10 photos of the wonderful land and outbuildings, and absolutely nothing of the actual livable main house or part of it! It's the same here in Austraila. They will list an apartment that is 200 metres from the beach and all they show is a picture of the ocean. We know what a surf beach looks like! As someone has said though, I guess if you do the leg work and actually look past the photos and actually visit the properties if you can, the rewards may await you!

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Cathy and Will a nd everyone....

Put yourselves in the position that I have been in....looking at properties in France for many years...and, I have purchased a couple...in different regions.In both cases when I wanted to sell the properies the agents were unable to do so.I sold my own houses.. for .the one in Charente I placed an add in a magazine....when a prospective buyer called I described to her everything relating to the house:what was around, the setting the atmosphere.I think at that moment she was moore than interested and she, my first caller purchased the house.

The second property was near to St Malo and  none of the local agents could capture the picture and valued it at a price which was half of what I achieved.The wind mill was facing the windy coast line and I managed, without a huge effort to secure an editorial [written by me] and a photo in the two most important property sections belonging to the most prolofic newspapers.

I was receiving calls from many countries and the house was sold to a Londoner.

One of my interests...and has to been for a number of years is French property...I find it most interesting and beautiful...and extreemly variable....Maison Bourgoise, Hotel particulars, Arcachon villas...chateaux from all the different periods...the red briques villas of the Somme....to name just a few.So there has been a quest to find a property in an area which is right.Not so easy when the estate agents  have tried so very hard not to furnish relevant info and the diirty words...more photos please.It is a costly mission to tramsport yourself into France for several days...hotels and such like on A WHIM..A house may be located near to Bayeaux but could be in the middle of now where 6 miles from the nearest shop and with a pig farm next door...not iideal for B and B.

So the estate agents are too vague....What is certain...is that if they were prepared to be more helpfull and iformative they would sell more properties.One...or maybe more UK based Estate Agents have, in the past suggested that I was an agent merely because I requested extensive detail before I  was prepared to travel all the way to  a remote region....having seen one photo and a vague description.

I have to admit that I am tempted to engage in the selling of houses....but my first thoughts are to be in France and to begin a new stage in my life.The puzzle pieces have been created and I await the results.

a

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We have been driven mad or to total derision by the "photos" on estate agent websites. However the French are not as plugged into searching via the internet as people in the UK.  However it's interesting that when photos do appear on the particulier sites, they are often far better than those produced by agents. Part of it is the terror that you may go behind their back, identify the property and approach the owner 'direct', thereby costing them their overinflated 7% frais d'agence. One agent recently told me that she'd lowered her frais to 5%. She blanched when I told her that if she sold property in England, she'd be on 1 - 2 %.  The cost of buying and selling property in France is about 11% of the price....would have thought for that you could get a photo that was at least vaguely indicative of what the place looks like.
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While I must agree with whats been said here,  99percent of the estates we went to view with gave us terrible (some times no) details for the houses with dark dingy photos, most interior rooms taken with the shutters shut !! But then as always happens we ended bying the 3rd house we saw on the first day(after 10 more days and another 90 viewings ) from an estate who had the best photos and an even better upbeat positive attitude to all the houses he took us to. I had contacted him months before on the interenet and had emailed him almost daily with houses from his and other sites to give him an idea of what we were looking for. When we arrived he sat us down made us a coffee and took half an hour to talk to us about areas we liked and what we wanted from our village and house. as we talked he removed houses from the pile he had but together for us. as he was talking to my husband I went through this little pile and pulled some out and but i would like to see this one or this one, he replied no you wouldnt which at first put my back up and he could see this and said  trust me, then we went out in his car and he drove us around all day to show us 9 houses in the first day, we really liked number 3 but as this was the first day we wouldnt let our selves get to excited as we passed through villages to see other houses he pointed a couple that he had pulled out and he was right I wouldnt of liked them mainly because of the situation within the village or to overlooked ect. We had another half day with him before moving on to other estate agents and areas. Not one of the agents were a patch on him although one we agreed to meet in a cafe and who had kept us waiting half an hour did pay our bill for all the beers we had comsumed and she was very sweet but sadly every thing she took us to see was passed a joke. Half way through the week we were quite depressed by what we were seeing but every evening we took a picnic and drove up to the village where we had seen the house we liked we sat by the lake and took some of the local walks explored the village on the fifth evening we rang the estate agent and asked if we could look at it again right now as we are sat on the door step out side, he was surprised but drove right over and let us in. we had brought a torch and tape measure and Hubby had his electric testing machine thinghy with. So while I roped the estate agent into measuring every room and I took hundreds of photos hubby was crawling around the attic and the cellar testing every thing in sight. We went home that evening and talked for hours and looked at the photos and the next morning we put in an offer and went off for the day with another estate agent clinging to our phone waiting for it to ring.

It was ours, with in days the test where done and all the paper work sorted and we were signing our first lot of legal paper work, as we left the estate agent gave us the details and photos make up into a poster for us to put up on the wall while we waited for the final papers to sign back home in England. A year later and Its still up on the wall and I look at it every day on my way out to work.

So there are some good ones out there. [:)]                 

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  • 2 weeks later...
I asked an agent for any additional photos of a property we were interested in, and was sent several rather odd views, including a close-up of the bathroom sink, complete with dirty water and a pair of pants drying on the edge.  I assumed that they were trying to tell me I wouldn't like it.
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Having re-read (and contributed to) this thread I am starting to ask myself why potential buyers are so hung-up about photographs of properties. I have dealt a lot in apartments, mainly on the Mediterranean coast and port areas near where I live, and frankly an empty or sparsely furnished conrete cube does not look good, however artistically presented. I have seen some real horrors transformed by their new owners who had the wit and imagination to visualise what could be done. (I have recently bought a wreck and done it up, as readers of French Property News will know). I am always dismayed when the camera is produced by the potential buyer and realise at this point there is no sale going to be made today.

There are other more important points to note - aspect, absence/presence of sun, sound/thermal insulation, safety, access, parking, neighbours, year-round or fulltime occupancy of the building (for 9 months of the year I am virtually alone in my apartment block of 80 dwellings - some people might find that scary) and so on. There is absolutely no substitute for local knowledge and advice, and a personal visit. No amount of photographs can tell you what you really need to know.

P-D de Rouffignac

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P-D makes a good point, though as someone who has bought apartements on the Med coast too, I have to say "I get the camera out!"

This is because I rent my apartments out and to do so I need to advertise them. From reading this thread it is apparent that people like to see (and fall in love with) a good photo.  I appreciate that; and will not purchase any holiday-investment property that I plan to rent out if it doesn't photograph well.  A couple of great photos will have the tennants flocking way better than any flowery written prose or list of facts and stats (hours of sunshine, scope of view, size of rooms, thickness of insulation, quiet friendliness of neighbours, meters to this and metres to that etc - no matter how valid these things are).

Perhaps P-Ds viewers were investors themselves (or purchasers with a longterm view on re-sales)?

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Okay, I can do you a fancy photograph - but will you thank me if later you discover that the property has zero insulation, never gets the sun, is plagued by noisy holidaymakers, or that the syndic has voted for urgent repairs in the next few weeks (three blocks in my area are each having to spend 70,000 euros to bring the lifts up to norms - an average contribution of 2000+ euros per apartment owner)? Even if you are planning to invest/let to tenants rather than live in the property yourself, these things can affect the viability of your purchase.

P-D de Rouffignac

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  • 1 month later...

Nicole you have been to that house as well!!!!

I have seen some photos of just the yard wall, no interior pics at all, I mean would you even go and look. Fortunately when I purchased my house the Immo had taken superb pictures both interior and exterior. But I knew as soon as I went in that it was the house for me, no regrets so far.

cartref

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[quote user="Will"]

... all stemming from an original desire not to be too specific or make a house too easy to identify, and it will take a lot to change things.

[/quote]

I agree about the "limitations" of French Estate agents - though my personal experience is quite a few years out of date now.  I also notice that most of the work they do seems related to protecting their commission.  However, why do I see Estate Agent's "For Sale" boards up outside houses.  If I were a buyer and given the commission they charge I would drive around my selected area looking for boards on suitable houses and knock on the door, thus saving myself a significant sum should I find a suitable place.  for people living in an area and wanting to move locally I would expect they would notice the boards in their normal to'ing and fro'ing and the agent you never be contacted.

After all, as the agents (used to) take you to the house, there is no need for a board to help you identify the correct front door as you are always accompanied.

Ian

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Compared to the quality of advertising and photographs real estate agents do in Australia, it's no wonder the French housing market is dead (compared to Oz and the UK). They are shockingly bad and trying to get more info and photo's out of French real estate agents is a nightmare too!

I don't think they realise that advertising is what sells things. You don't advertise well, therefore you won't sell well. It's that simple.

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