If you’d love to buy in France but just can’t find the right property, or you lack confidence in your French language and knowledge of the market, you need a buyer’s agent.
What’s the worst thing about buying a home in France? Or indeed any country? Well actually, for many of us it’s all incredibly exciting and great fun. The whole process from first searching online, through making lots of visits to view property, negotiating a price, organising the notary, connecting utilities and moving in.
For others, it’s all a bit of a headache, especially given the different language and currency. But it’s worth it for the joy of getting that French home.
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And for still others, maybe the majority, they just don’t know where to start and don’t have the time or energy to make all the necessary steps. So it remains a distant aspiration.
But there is an easier way. For anyone who wants to buy in France but lacks the time, knowledge of France, French language or bandwidth within their busy lives, there are buyers’ agents.
Although relatively rarely used in the UK, using an agent to look after your side of the property search and transaction is the normal way things are done in many other countries.
Home Hunts is one company that offers a buyer’s agent service. Their Director Tim Swannie explained the advantages: “Our job is to find the perfect home for our clients and then to help them negotiate the most beneficial deal at the best price.”
A buyer’s agent does all the hard work for you
“There are some challenging aspects of buying a property in France. Clients worry about language difficulties, distrust over an estate agent’s advice, uncertainty over how the buying process works, a lack of knowledge about the French property market. By choosing Home Hunts’ buyer’s agent service they can do all the hard work for you.”
So how does it work?
It starts with a consultation. Clients want the home of their dreams and each buyer has a unique collection of needs and often-complex criteria. This, explains Tim, is where a good buyer’s agent excels: “They have to relish the challenge of finding a perfect property match, whether holiday apartment or family home.”
It’s vital that your agent becomes a trusted ally in the search, so look out for a company that gives you one principle point of contact throughout your search. They should live and work in the area where you’re looking, speak both your language and French fluently and know the local market intimately. “It’s also important,” says Tim Swannie, “that the consultant acts solely on behalf of the client and remains dedicated to fulfilling their needs throughout the process.”
If you are ready to buy in France within the next few months and still have questions, don’t hesitate to call your France Buying Specialist, Yasmin, on +44(0)20 7898 0549 or email France@propertyguides.com.
With your requirements understood, your agent will start the searching process across the entire market. Indeed a good buyer’s agent with an ear to the ground may already know a few potential properties, that could be coming on to the market soon or are available but not being advertised.
The buyer’s agent will create a long list of properties, and then analyse every long-listed property first by carrying out an initial viewing by themselves.
The property only makes the potential viewings shortlist if it fits the criteria. The second stage of property viewings is carried out with the client. Remember, this is your agent, not the vendor’s and their job is to be your eyes and ears, to be totally honest and open about properties. While the vendor’s agent may gloss over potential problems, your agent will outline all the good and bad points, from noise to potential renovation problems.
Once a property is selected the team guide the client smoothly through the process to the end. Although finding the property is the most obvious advantage of using a buyer’s agent, as Tim Swannie explains, the next stage is where they really add value: “A Home Hunts consultant is able to uncover more information about a property than the buyer could have done alone. The details are then discussed with the client and can inform the buying and negotiation strategies. How long a property has been for sale, the owner’s situation, how flexible prices really are, it’s our job to investigate the details that are important for our client.”
Your agent should, in short, be able to save you money. “We’ve been working with all of the estate agents for around 15 years now, so we’ve built up a great network and unrivalled knowledge of the property market,” says Tim Swannie.
Make sure you know how your purchase could be impacted by a no-deal Brexit with our guide, How to Live in France After Brexit.
After the sale, a buyer’s agent will often continue to offer support. After all, much of their business will come from referral and recommendations. They will also be the people to recommend other support and professionals. “In terms of the service we offer, it is constantly evolving because we tailor-make it for each client,” says Tim. “We pride ourselves on helping our clients before, during and after the sale. Everything from currency exchange, tax and finance through to renovations, rental and property management.”
Buying in 2020
With the likely effects of Brexit kicking in over the next year, buyers’ agents expect to be busy. If Brexit goes ahead as planned after the transition period ending in January 2021, the clock is ticking; you should have unti then to buym become legally resident and maintain all your current EU rights. Many buyers will need help to do all that in the next year.
Tim Swannie and Home Hunts are ready for the rush: ““Initially [after the referendum] people panicked, but whilst enquiries from the UK have dropped, we have found that those enquiring are more serious about buying. Although the number of British buyers dropped after the Brexit referendum, the number has increased over the last few years. In 2018 just over one-third of clients hailed from the UK and in 2019 more than 50% of buyers are Brits.”
For a no-obligation introduction to Home Hunt to kick-start your property search in France, simply fill in our enquiry form below. They are free for you as a buyer to use, as they receive a split of the selling agent’s fee, and so are completely unbiased with their advice. Their job is to find the best property for you, at the best price and under the best conditions.