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BY LEGGETT IMMOBILIER

Thinking about selling your property in France? Here’s what you need to know

Owning a property in France can be a wonderful experience. Selling it, however, can be less so. With France’s ever-changing regulatory landscape and heavy administrative burden, doing it all on your own can be stressful and fraught with risk, even if you know the market. Using an agent could be a great option which can save you a lot of both time and money. We explain why.

Thinking about selling your property in France? Here's what you need to know

Selling a house in France can be complicated for a number of reasons, and while you may choose to sell it privately, asking for the help of an agency can make this process much easier.

Roz Collins and her husband had been running a successful business renting out their gites (holiday property) in Poitou-Charente for almost 10 years. Then they had to return to the UK and sell their French property.

But finding a buyer wasn’t that easy.

“Although our house was stunning and had beautiful views, a number of factors made the selling quite challenging,” Roz says.

“First of all, the property is a converted barn, so it’s not an ordinary holiday home property, and secondly we put it on the market just when Brexit happened and then Covid followed, and the market just died,” she says.

What’s more, the house was in a quiet, rural area, with the nearest other private property being a quarter of a mile away, and the nearest town, Angouleme, about 50 km away, so the house was not exactly in the middle of a bustling city with lots of prospective buyers passing by.

The Collins had put their house on the market privately but soon realised their chances of success were low.

Are you planning to sell your house in France? Get some help from the market specialists, Leggett Immobilier

“You’re very unlikely to find someone driving around in the country who will notice the property without any marketing, especially if it’s an outside-of-the-city property,” Joanna Leggett from the estate agent Leggett Immobilier says.

In fact, unlike just posting on one’s social media, real estate agents such as Leggett reach a much broader market and are able to get a better final price thanks to their marketing expertise.

Furthermore, using an agency is the only way to get worldwide coverage and attract international buyers who are looking to buy properties in France. “Brits, Dutch, Belgians, Germans and lots of Americans are interested in acquiring a property in France,” says Joanna.

“The best way to advertise and reach the most people is really to use an agent because we do all the marketing at no extra cost – it’s also the best way to get the best price because an agent will be a more experienced negotiator and will be more neutral,” she says.

One day, Roz got a call from Stephanie, an agent from Leggett Immobilier. “She had noticed our house was on the market, and was convinced she could sell it,” said Roz. At that time, the couple had considered other agents, but Stephanie was the only one who followed through.

“She was so tenacious, extremely professional, really thorough, followed up on questions, gave us feedback,” says Roz.

“We always said, ‘if somebody is going to sell this place, it’s going to be Stephanie’”. And that’s what happened.

Overwhelmed at the red tape involved in selling your house in France? Contact Leggett for advice

Roz Collins, right, with her husband, Derek.

Selling a house can be stressful, and usually involves a lot of red tape and administration that perhaps not every seller is aware of, especially in France.

And for the Collins, Stephanie’s help was priceless.

The Leggett agent was there to smooth out the process and conduct all the tests and reports that need to be done before a house is put on the market.

In fact, having an expert conduct a ‘Diagnostic Performance Energétique’, i.e. a diagnostic report which identifies the estimated consumption of energy of a building as well as the effectiveness of the insulation, is compulsory.

Other surveys on termites, lead paint, asbestos, the electricity supply, as well as septic tanks and numerous other issues are also mandatory.

Additionally, agencies such as Leggett take care of all the conveyancing and organise everything without the seller having to worry about a thing.

“We have the official capacity to draw up the ‘compromis de vente’ which if you were doing that yourself, you’d have to liaise with your notaire,” Joanna says.

“An agent will spot things like, ‘Is the buyer looking for planning permission for a swimming pool?’ or, ‘Are they looking to convert the barn into a house?’, and can get the compromis drawn up much quicker than would the notaire,” she says.

The agency also organises the signatures of the buyer and the seller, digitally or on paper, and then has it sent through to the notaire.

“Once the compromis de vente was signed, Stephanie went to the notaire personally on a number of occasions, she followed up, she took care of all the paperwork and she even met up with the buyers and picked up the contract herself in the UK,” Roz says.

“She was extremely helpful, particularly for us because we were in the UK, but she also helped our buyers with their visas, which was amazing,” she said.

“We couldn’t have asked for more.”

Want to sell your French house for the best price and with the minimum of fuss? Contact Leggett Immobilier

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PROPERTY

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

If you're researching the French property market, you might have come across mentions of 'courtiers' - here's what they do and whether they are necessary.

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

The French ‘courtier‘ is usually translated as a broker, and the Notaires Association describes their role like this: “the broker is a true intermediary in banking operations. His/her role is to negotiate the best rates for you, but not only that: they will also find the most advantageous financing conditions for the realisation of your project.”

Essentially they act as an intermediary between you and the banks, so they’re only required if you need a mortgage or a loan in order to buy your French property. 

Their job is to research the best deals for you and then to help you put together your application and ensure that all your paperwork is correct – unlike the notaire, instructing a courtier is not a required part of the process, so the decision on whether to instruct one is up to you. 

So is it worth it?

Among French buyers, around 30 percent of mortgages are obtained using the services of a courtier, and this rises to 60 percent among young, first-time buyers, who generally find it harder to access credit.

Some of things to consider are your level of French and confidence in negotiating French bureaucracy, your financial situation (since French mortgage lenders tend to be stricter than those in the UK or US) and whether you currently live in France or not (since there are extra hoops to jump through for overseas buyers).

READ ALSO Is now a good time to buy a home in France?

“Things have changed,” Trevor Leggett, group president of Leggett International estate agents, told The Local. “It’s now more important than ever to work closely with a reputable broker.

“In France it is all paper-based, very old-school and extremely bureaucratic, a different world entirely to the UK. Preparing the client “dossier” so that it will be accepted is an art form.”

READ ALSO MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

He advised non-resident international clients, particularly, who may not be au fait with the French system to seek the help of a broker who knows the ropes.

“The question is no longer really about savings,” he said. “It is about finding a bank that can actually lend to the client profile, interests rate are secondary. 

“It occasionally happens that one bank can be played off against another, or to shop around, but it’s a rare event nowadays.”

READ ALSO Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

And he had no hesitation in recommending that prospective buyers find a broker to sort out the financing.

“The lending market has tightened for international buyers and a good one is worth their weight in gold,” he said.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Time-frame for buying and selling property in France

In France, you make an offer on a property and then you begin the mortgage process (while in the UK it’s the other way round) so problems in getting your mortgage approved could lead to you losing your dream property.

“[Using a courtier] can be the difference between buying and not,” added Trevor.

“It’s not just any possible language barrier – but understanding the process and the different players in the market.”

How much?

The cost of hiring a courtier is borne by the buyer – but how much do they charge?

The courtier usually charges a percentage of the total mortgage amount – fees must be fixed in advance and are only payable once your mortgage application has been approved. 

Fees vary between different areas and different businesses, but the average fee is €2,000, which amounts to around one percent of the purchase price.

Many brokers set a minimum amount – around €1,500 – for smaller loans, and take a percentage of larger loans, so how much you pay depends on your property budget. 

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