Help our agents to help you!

Written by: Graham Gilbert Date: 20 March 2008

All French Property Centre agents are well-established, officially registered agents with years of experience in helping both French and UK residents to buy French property. They work in an industry which – unlike its UK counterpart – is highly regulated, and which offers buyers much more protection under the law than they would have in the UK. Many, but not all, are actually British ex-pats themselves and they have a genuine desire to help you settle into your new French home.

Here are some tips for helping our agents to help you:

  • Know what you want – any agent is only as good as the information he or she is given. Divide your search criteria into those which are essential and those which are merely preferable and on which you might be flexible.
  • Have your finances in place before you start – this will allow you to move quickly if our agent finds the house of your dreams. See our list of Mortgage Providers.
  • Meet our agents and view properties – this confirms in their eyes that you are serious and not an ‘armchair buyer’. Ask for an appointment via our site, quote the reference numbers of properties you would like to view and include your search criteria.
  • Don’t arrange too many meetings with different agents in the same day; France is a vast country and a morning or afternoon is soon taken up with travelling time between three or four rural properties especially.
  • Please be on time for appointments: have the agent’s phone number on you and let them know if you’re going to be late or not show up – a courtesy call in advance means they can reorganize their diary and allocate your slot to someone else.
  • Agree to meet the agent at his/her office: not only do you have the reassurance that they are a bona fide agent working from legitimate premises; but they will be able to show you other suitable properties on their books before taking you out on any viewings. A property just taken on that very day might be exactly what you’re looking for!
  • Talk! An agent is only as good as the information he or she is given and now that you are face-to-face, communication will be easier. Check that the properties you’ve earmarked to view meet your non-negotiable criteria before setting off. A grey area is sometimes condition: ‘à rafraîchir’ (‘to freshen up’) should at most mean that a new kitchen or bathroom is required whereas ‘à rénover’ (to renovate) should be used to describe a property needing heavier work. It sometimes pays to be flexible and open-minded – it is not unknown for people to buy the exact opposite of what they initially say they are looking for!
  • Don’t ask for a floorplan – they don’t exist in France!
  • Do sign a ‘Bon de Visite’ if asked by the agent. This form merely confirms that it is this particular agent who is introducing you to the properties you are viewing. This guarantees the agent their commission in the event of your buying.
  • Be Prepared: take drinks/snacks with you to keep you going and wear appropriate clothing (yes, there will be mud on farmland in winter!) Try to keep children or pets under control – or better still leave them with family or friends so you can concentrate.
  • Take notes/photographs: these will remind you later of the pros and cons of each property if things become a blur.
  • Give feedback after viewings: comments such as ‘property x would’ve been perfect if only ……..’ will allow our agents to refine their searches and get a clearer idea of what’s in your mind’s eye.
  • Be guided by our agents: If you fall head over heels with a property then do take the agent's advice on whether you can make the vendor an offer, they will know whether there is room to manouevre - for example if the vendor needs to release funds quickly. Unlike the UK, a property can be on several agents' books and someone else can be offering the full asking price while you are still negotiating. You are only really in the driving seat when your offer has been accepted, you’ve signed the Compromis de Vente and you’ve paid your 10% deposit (you still have your 7-day cooling-off period during which you can change your mind and be refunded your deposit). Our agents will guide you through the process.
  • Keep in touch with our agents; if at first we don’t succeed then keep the communication channels open. When you’re back in the UK it is invaluable to have someone on the ground who knows what you’re looking for and who has their eyes and ears open for you. The gift of finding your ideal French property will be the more delayed, delighted.

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