Your French estate agent will be one of the most important elements of your buying journey in France, so it is important to consider what you are looking for from your agent, and choose carefully.

Choosing the right French estate agent is one of the important elements in buying your dream home in France. The wrong choice could result not only in issues with the property you buy, but also with the legalities and regulations you need to deal with. Not only that, but you could find yourself in a region that doesn’t suit you as much as you’d hope.

So, what do you need to look for?

What professional accreditation does a French real estate agent need?

The first step before any other considerations is professional accreditation. It’s of paramount importance to have one who’s legally and professionally certified. This means they must possess a Carte Professionelle (‘professional card’) and its number must be displayed on their website.

It is important to be aware that many agents operate on a freelance basis in France. As a result, they don’t necessarily have the professional qualifications, contacts or understanding of the marketplace. Choosing a French estate agent who works with a reputable firm makes it much more likely that you’ll get a professional experience. Their experience means they’ll be able to quickly take on board all your exact requirements and won’t show you unsuitable or expensive properties. Choosing a French estate agent who is not backed by this accreditation could result in you paying over the odds in legal fees and falling in love with a property that you may not legally be able to buy.

You’ll also want to check they’re members of either the FNAIM, the SNPI or the UNPI.

When conducting your research for a new estate agent, it is of paramount importance that you choose one who is legally and professionally accredited and in receipt of a Carte Professionelle.

Make sure to talk to your French estate agent before making your final decision. You need to ensure that they can give you additional knowledge about the area you are looking at, and can explain the subtle nuances of buying property here. Without this additional information you are much more likely to struggle throughout the journey and your first few days in France.

What are the financial aspects of working with a French estate agent?

You will also notice some subtle, but potentially expensive differences, such as French estate agents’ commissions – typically 5-10% in France, compared to the 1-2% in the UK. It certainly pays to start researching potential estate agents as soon as you can.

You are perfectly at liberty to instruct more than one agency to carry out your property search in France. Many agents will have inter-agency agreements so the commission will be no more if you look at properties with a number of agents.

Many agents will require you to sign what is called a “Bon de Visite” simply to confirm that you have seen a certain property with them rather than any other, since a fair proportion of properties will be on the books of multiple agents. This is standard practice and means you won’t bypass them to go with a different agent on the same property.

You need to ensure that the French estate agent you choose takes on board all your exact requirements.

You need to ensure that the French estate agent you choose takes on board all your exact requirements.

What language requirements should you consider for a French estate agent?

Lastly, but definitely not of least importance, you need to make sure that the estate agent you choose can converse with you in English (unless you are fluent in French yourself). After all, a language barrier when discussing the intricacies of an already challenging process will make everything more difficult. Ideally, they should have a C1 or C2 level on the European Common Framework, if they’re not a native speaker.

“During our conversations with France Property Guide and reading through their guide, it became abundantly clear to us that we had received a less than suitable service from our estate agent. Perhaps this was our own fault to begin with, as we had booked a seven day viewing trip and spent the first few days trying to find a suitable French estate agent. The one that we eventually chose insisted on taking us around to properties above our price range, and it was only by luck that we came across a property with most of our required features at a cost we were happy with.”

Mr & Mrs Roberts

Bought their property in the Languedoc in 2014

What should you do when you first contact your French estate agent?

It’s also important to find out how proactive your chosen estate agent is before you use them. We would suggest contacting them with a brief before the trip. See then if they get back to you, how long it takes for them to reply, and how relevant their response is concerning your search and the properties that you are interested in. Your agent should listen to your requirements carefully and make suggestions according to your specific needs. They should also be able to help you over and above property viewings, by telling you more about the local area and facilities, for example.

We have spoken to many would-be homebuyers who have had bad experiences with less reputable agents in the past. Thankfully, we have been able to direct them to trusted agents to help them and meet their requirements at a time when others have let them down.

Don’t get caught out – research any agents you plan to work with carefully, seek recommendations from people you trust, and anyone you know who has made the move before.

The France Property Guides team has been working with a small group of trusted French agents for years. Start your search off the right way and see what they have to offer on our French Property Portal

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