As a former agent commercial in Normandy I understand how difficult it is to find an ideal property. Buyers wade through websites, portals, property shows etc.Then discover ‘honeypot’ properties are sold. Or, the photos are 10 years old. Or no mention of that busy road, noisy neighbours, dodgy septic tank etc.
After achieving the ‘purple heart’ and wading through all of these pitfalls you eventually find your dream property. Next obstacle is paying for it. Or, more particularly the agent selling it. Typically agents will charge between 5 -10% of the property price for the benefit of selling the buyer a property. The fee is never less than 5000 Euros. I have seen fees that are eye watering. The buyer then pays the Notaires fees at about 8% of the property price. Therefore nearly 15% is commonly required in addition to the cost of the ‘bricks and mortar’. The Notaires fees are unavoidable and are mainly taxes. Notaires are keen to stress the ‘taxes’ bit as people think they get all the money and go on expensive holidays. The Notaires bit pays for the conveyancing and completion processes.
You can reduce and often avoid expensive agents fees. The private sale market in France is vibrant. Approximately 40 – 50 % of all sales each year are within the private sales market. Inevitably a private sale is likely to suit both parties. If you are not used to transactions in France it can be daunting. But there are specialists who can assist with property finding and facilitating the sales process. This takes a lot of the strain, and expense out of the equation. The cost of such services is a fraction of an agents fee.
It is not always possible to buy privately. Estate agents in France fiercely protect the location of properties and often ‘somehow’ state a location that is nowhere near the property. This is to protect there fee and is often quite irritating, especially when researching at a distance. However sometimes fees are unavoidable. The property may be exclusive to the agent for example. In these circumstances it is still a good idea to have someone who knows the ‘script’ in your camp. A balanced professional perspective can be gained. A relatively small fee can give peace of mind and it is quite possible to cover that fee within the overall negotiation.
All too often clients will come to France, little knowledge of the language, property market, prices and processes. They will reduce there effective budget for a property by paying agency fees for services that are really straightforward and could be delivered cost effectively. Often, and I have been there, people get loss averse and do not want to part with a few hundred Euros for a professional opinion and advice. Steaming ahead with what is a major purchase in a foreign land. Sometimes disaster follows.
Consider the private market, save expensive fees and get that kitchen instead.