Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Renovation project - Selling or buying a house in France

Renovation project - Selling or buying a house in France

photo courtesy of
Selling a house can be quite simple in France. There are 3 main ways to sell a property:
1.      Use an estate agent
2.      Use the Notaire
3.      Sell it privately
There is no additional cost for the seller to use all methods and a lot of different agents. We have chosen an international agent and the local agent to ensure that we get full coverage, we have also used another agent that appears to be mainly social media and internet based.
There are large differences between each of the options, the biggest being the amount of fees that are paid.
In France the buyer pays the fees, though personally I think this is ridiculous and just a good selling ploy. Yes the fees are on the buyers paperwork showing clearly how much was paid, but ultimately it is the seller who takes less as you do not want to advertise without the fees as any potential buyer would be shocked at the total fees due. But this is just my big bug bear and nothing is going to change it.
So the fees range from approx 6% to 10 % of the property value.
We were able to negotiate the fees with the two main agents; the other agent came in at 3% fees (even I would not want to negotiate that down!)
1.      So what do you get for your money with an agent?
First you get a very enthusiastic person come to visit you and write-up your property and take photos, though we took our own as we wanted to make sure they were just right.
Then you generally don’t hear from them again, unless there is a viewing booked.
The agents will advertise on the internet and the big portals such as Greenacres, zoopla, right move etc (many of which you can do yourself for a fraction of the cost)
The biggest benefit of an agent is that if you have a non French speaking buyer they may feel a lot more comfortable with an agent ad some people will only buy using an agent.
BIG TIP if you are looking to buy. Look at private ads as well, you are just as protected!
So depending on who your agent is, you may get a lot of contact or you may have to chase them up on a regular basis, but you can change them with no problems.
2.      So what do you get with a Notaire?
Basically very little in the sales department, they advertise your property without fees (yes you still pay immobilier fees) and tend to put it in a file in the office for anybody to come and look at, we saw our last house in there when we were looking to buy this one. They are not always kept up to date. Other Notaires may be a little more proactive.
However the Notaires really come into their own once you have a sale and ours are excellent, friendly, professional and able to speak French and English so a massive bonus.
3.      So what happens if you advertise privately?
Basically quite a headache, but it is a headache that can save the buyer up to 8,000 Euros in our case and let you put your house on the market at a much lower price.
So far we are advertised on Greenacres, Zoopla, place in the sun, le Bon-coin and a number of social media sites and the cost for 3 months has been 48 Euros. (Quite different to 8000).
I have made it sound very simple and really it is, as long as you can take good quality photographs and are able to complete a write up and often you will need to do that write up in French.
You will also need to be able to receive e-mails in French and answer them quickly; I opted for no telephone calls as I still struggle with some french accents.

But if you are confident enough you really can save a fortune.


  1. Jenny this is such a helpful blog as we are still wanting to move to a place with no stairs, it still scares the life out of us, I guess if you are only using a notaires you would have to find the property you want first then ask that notaire to sell yours, hopefully yours will sell before the one you want goes, hope you get a buyer for yours soon. x

    1. Thanks Roz, we are lucky that we have not chosen an actual property, just an area (so we are back to our tent if we sell!) selling yourself is a lot easier than you would think. you do not need to use the same notaire for a sale and a purchase, but it does make life a little easier

  2. Since my husband and I are planning to buy a house in France in the coming year, this information was very helpful. I even showed him your beautiful house and he thought maybe we should move to Brittany instead of Languedoc. Your house is beautiful so you have us thinking.

    1. thank you, Brittany i one of our favourite areas of France, the landscape is amazing the beaches are so close by. For us it is the climate, Brittany has no extremes and we are ready for some very hot summer sun, Good Luck with your move and if we can be of any help just shout