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Some thoughts about estate agents

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Last week I decided to sell my house in France.

Visited agent no. 1 in nearest town. They advised me to use no more local agencies as to see my property all over town in agents windows would imply desperation on my part. Any thoughts?

First agents said some clients use six or seven agencies to market their properties with very negative results as this gives the impression of a house difficult to sell.

Agent no. 2 in next nearest town listened to the price I had agreed with agent no. 1. "The market is very flat", she said shaking her head , "Drop the price by €50,000 and we will have a much better chance of selling quickly as interest in your property will be higher".

I may be a novice at selling property but it seems to me that the more places you advertise your house the more likely that someone will see it and decide to buy. Hence I have another two agents coming this week.

Should I have an A.V. sign at the foot of my drive ? Yes or no ? I suppose agents may think that with a sign out front anyone can make their way to your front door and make you an offer hence cutting out the agents fee !

Also as regards the house price, I think that it is fair going on what I paid for the house and the work done since we have lived here. Dropping the price by  €50,000 is a lot of money to me whereas for the agent a loss of 5% of €50,000 is very little indeed. I would read into this that it suits an agent to have a quick sale for less money. Look at the gain in the big picture with less work involved and a pick up in the housing market with the cheaper properties being quickly bought up and leaving the agents a clear run at selling the more upmarket  properties with a larger return on their fees. So win win for the agents but not for me.

The bottom has fallen out of the American housing market. Do you think that investors will now be looking for a lovely house in France ?

Advice much needed. Thank you.

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In almost the same position.Forget agents pricing,its a case of thumb in b-m,brain in neutral.yes there are difficulties,but we have had so much poor marketing/photographs,do it yourself at the price you can afford.There seems to be no rhyme or reason with agents,when you want to sell,the market is flat,drop the price 50000 or 500 million euros!!!! when you want to buy---mais oui everyone wants the same house,and the price is accordingly high!!I thought UK was bad but here,its so un proffessionally incompt,I,m going to try my own thing-only history will prove any success.I am going to use some agents as well-but no one is going to have exclusivity.The agents are supposed to do the selling,which means selling in the true sense,not just attaching a few badly taken photgraphs to a measly incorrect,usually,description and leaving it up to anyone else.Then they may be able to justify a portion of their exhorbitant fees.We are looking to move areas,not leave France,but one of the problems we find are that properties are only advertised in the region of____,which means that exporatory visits to the area are impossible to make before persuing any interest.Some of the addresses we have shown interest in are not even in the same department by 20 miles-just a waste of everyones time and money.Good luck anyway,wish us the same.Feel better with that off the chest Agents!!!


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Milly I couldnt see where you are (Is it a busy tourist area) ?

When we were searching for our house there where estate agents , where you would walk in to there shop and the actitude was either rude or to over the top trying to push us into visiting places which was the oppersite of what we had just told him we wanted . Then there were places where the leaftlets had turned brown because no one had been in their shop for weeks by the look of it. Then there were agents who's houses seemed a lot higher than simular houses in other shops. These are not the agents I would go to sell my house.

Other places had staff that left you alone to have time to have a look then came over to offer help. The offices were busy with other people (mainly English ) looking for houses. Fresh leaflets good information (on line ) and sensible prices. Now these are the people I would go to . Dont go to one just because its the nearest, get out and pretend to be a buyer for a few days and see which are the best agents. While your at it check out the prices for houses like yours and come up with your own price . No agent is going to want you to go with another aswell, we did see some houses advertised in a few places , I never once thought this person must be desperate I thought they were just coving a wider audiance.

Yes have a sign outside as we and I know others we met while serching where spending a lot of time driving around and noting numbers of places for sale and looking at the villages to see where they wanted to be . If some brave soul knocks on your door all the better the money spent on agents fees can be shared between you . If my french was better I would of done just that .

Advertise on the web in as many places as you can and even make your own site if you can , that is where al the overseas buyers start. We saw ours on the interenet in an estate agents site before we went to france and although we looked at a few hundred others that was the one we brought in the end.

why not add a link to your site if you have one as Im sure there are a few people here looking at the moment .    

My thoughts on the American market is that it will more than likley go up again so now is the time to invest there, But people with them will be holding on , not selling now .

Best of luck with it all and I hope you sell it soon[:)] 


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Milly, I can only give you a view from someone who was using the Internet to search for properties from the UK and then making visits to view.

We would often find a house and think 'that looks interesting'. Normally, the photos were limited so we searched for another agent with the same house and a different set of photos - which would sometimes curb our interest.

Sometimes we would not be able to find another agent with the same property, and the sole agent might have, at best two photos and sometimes one photo - email requests for more not always bringing many more.

There were a few agents that showed us houses with whom I would possibly put a house on a sole agency basis. But, there is little difference in cost when using either a sole agency or multi-agency. In addition, as well as number of photos, some agents are easier to find on the net than others - as well as some having excellent websites and others being very basic.

As for desperation, we found that some agents would tell us who was desperate (as well as telling us that far lower than the price would be accepted).

We did find at times we would be in an agents and they would suggest we looked at a property and we would reply that we already had an appointment with another agent to view it - interestingly, with one property, the agent was enthusing about it until we told him we would be viewing it with another agent. He immediately started to tell us what was wrong with the property - something that we would have spotted without his warning.

So, in a very long winded way, from my viewpoint, it is sometimes helpful to the long distance buyer if the property is multi-agency.


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Take a long hard look at who you think will buy your house. Our house in the UK was no problem popular part of the outer suburbs of London. Maison Secondaire in France was too well finished and expensive for local french market therefore UK buyers. Current house in France will probably be French from Bordeaux when we want to sell.  Suggest you at least mention the Department and what type of property to get better advice. In general investors with brains buy when the bottom has fallen out of a market  Also remember anything is worth what somebody will pay for it raher than what it cost. We looked at  a number of places where the asking price was clearly the cost plus the money they had spent/wasted  


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[quote user="maude"]

I thought UK was bad but here,its so un proffessionally incompt,         Maude


From someone who can't even spell the words, or make any sense, to criticise, it must be bad.


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"immofr" wrote one line of personal criticism

"Maude" wrote 15 lines of text ,and has shown her understanding of the house selling situation in France,  and made the effort to contribute to this posting!

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Great spelling...and an English degree does not make a good person or a happy person....some of the brightest people make gramatical mistakes.

Back to property....I am arriving Sunday night armed with house purchasing equipment...have rented a car from Bergearc airport and have booked a few hotels having explored the relevant internet sights.It will be good to see what the level of hospitality on offer is this summer.Our last visit was just before easter and some of the interesting  hotels were not operational.

What I have done.....apart from the obvious is to provide a character sketch for some of the agents......capture their imagination and suddenly things begin to happen.We have been offered a property which was viewed by the agent just yesterday and is not officially on the market just yet.Exciting.So off I go to try to find a great property.

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Some honest thoughts - I work as an agent selling to mainly UK clients.

1) The market is pretty flat generally. Obviously it varies from area to area but in particular there seems to be less UK buyers this year than previous years. There are lots of possible reasons why which would justify a seperate thread.

2) To an extent it is true that putting your house with lots of agents can be a bad idea. This is mainly the case for the local market who will tend to watch more closely which property is available with which agents. If these agents then advertise with UK sites your property can appear several times, sometimes for differing prices which can be confusing for UK buyers.

3) Do you think that your house will be bought by a French or UK buyer? If a UK  buyer then look at the agents that target UK clients. Look at the UK websites and see which agents advertise more than others.

4) No agent will like an AV sign! If you think that your house will appeal to a local buyer then try an AV sign. If it is more likely to appeal to a UK buyer then you have nothing to lose but risk wasting some time and energy with people who cannot afford to buy.

5) There is very little advantage to you in signing an exclusive contract with an agent.  You are perhaps better off choosing the best two agents in your area and trying a private ad yourself on one of the better websites.

Good luck with your sale, all of this is just my opinion,

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I sold my  own house in a very remote part of Aude with an advert in French Property News  on-line.  It cost me less than £100 and I had many UK viewers.  It sold in a month.  French buyers are less likely to pay the price you want - UK buyers are used to UK prices so they think they have got a bargain in France.  If you offer to help them get settled with the transfer of telephone, bank accounts, electricity, etc. it will be a good selling point if they are first time buyers in France.

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Frankly the first agent was right and also protecting his/her income in a flat market, when a house is all over the internet they are normally desperate to sell and/or something is not as it seems with the property so I think it is better as P says to use one or two recommended agents.

As for houses all over the internet. we looked at one in the Creuse, all the pictures showed lovely square Yorkshire dales stone walls and it looked completely restored, but every agent in the UK and the area had it. When we went and looked, and there is no substitution for doing this, the agent, a Dutchman told us it was not worth looking at, we insisted and found the square stone walls were actually render over stone scored with a chisel and the French owner had installed a staircase in the ground floor lounge that would not have looked out of place at the Ritz, problem was it had taken 2/3 of the lounge space to get it in, so to compensate he had made the bedrooms into a lounge and the loft area into bedrooms, but as he could not cut the main cross beams in the roof space at waist height, he had made the bedrooms into caves you had to crawl into through paper mache entrances. It had to be seen to be believed.

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Ironic when owners are keen to attract a non-French purchaser - for example English - who think they are getting a bargain in relation to property prices back home! Depends on your point of view, I suppose, whether you are a buyer or a seller. Perhaps also a good time to consult an agent with expert local knowledge of comparative property values in the area.  

Peter-Danton de ROUFFIGNAC

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Hi Everyone,

Thank you for replying to my post. Other opinions are very helpful.

I suppose what's giving me a bee in the bonnet at the moment is the difference in estate agents attitude to you when you are the seller rather than the buyer. If you are selling your house and moving within the same area,  perhaps upgrading to a larger house, agents are tripping over themselves to be of help with the hope of selling you some other house on their books. However if you are moving out of the area they seem only interested in the potential your house has to make a quick fee for them. Remember dropping your price by perhaps 25,000 euros is only a loss of about 1,250 euros for the agent. Peanuts for monkeys!

Thank you for your help.


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I am a layman regarding realestate but my background (I'm French and bought a property some eight years ago) may help a bit. First of all, beware of agencies that ask an exclusive that will tie you down.

Second, check their credentials... If you would'nt buy from them then do not have them advertise your house[;-)]. I guess it is only commonsense after all. You should trust the agency and be sure that the service they offer is worth the money as they will take a fee on all sales.

Where I live (Haute Ardeche), agences immobilieres do not have representative offices within a 30 minute drive of most places they advertise, sometimes they do not even know the property in detail. Their aim is to sell quick and easy. No wonder they are often bypassed by potential buyers and sellers. 

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We have our house for sale also, in the Languedoc.

We are advertising privately with various websites - FPN, IFP, Daft.ie (Irish property site), Green-acres as well as French sites namely, Vivastreet, pap.fr. We have also posted messages on various forums, Angloinfo, Thisfrenchforum.com, the-languedoc-page.com.

One of the best places to advertise privately to the local market is in the local free paper, in our case ParuVendu. We've placed an ad online which appears in the weekly "annonces" and this does generate enquiries, both from private individuals and estate agents as well who are looking for good property for their books.

We've said "yes" to every agent who has called us so far - I truly believe in the logic that the more places it's seen, the more likely you are to find a buyer and it definitely is not a sign that you're desperate - it's an indication that you're pro-active in promoting your property.

One word of advice - listen to the agents and take their advice on board but don't let them boss you around.

It's true that at the moment the market is flat, but there are buyers out there and the best thing to do is your own bit of market research and come up with a price that YOU feel is appropriate - the agents don't necessarily really know any more than you can find out for yourself, so don't let them try to convince you to drop your price unrealistically just to make a quick sale (unless of course, you're really desperate to sell).

The other thing to bear in mind is the agents' fees. They all vary, so you risk having your house up for sale at different prices all over the place and that's just confusing for everyone involved, especially the buyer. Personally speaking, we have managed to reach an agreement with all the agents with whom we have a "mandat" - we have told them what our net vendeur price is and what we want the price to be "in their window".

Strangely enough, they have ALL been accommodating in this respect and seem to understand that it's the best solution all round, although the fee is less than they would normally charge. it is important to bear in mind though, that we have done our research in the local market and feel that we were in a position to state our price and fee structure accordingly.

One other word of advice, DO put an A.V sign outside the house. We have done so and we have had a few calls in response.

We've also received enquiries from the various private ads we've taken out onthe internet, from Canada, ireland, Denmark, Normandy, Paris, USA and UK. The house has been for sale for about 6 weeks in total, but only for 2 weeks with local agents. We started at a price that was too high just to test the market, but have now come down to a far more realistic level, in fact a very "bon prix" according to the agents.

Finally, if you can, create your own private website with lots of photos and link to it from wherever you can. We have our own - www.forsale.in-fleury.com if you'd like to take a look to see how we've done it.

Hope this is of some use to you and good luck with the sale.

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