Real Estate Agency in France
Buying real estate or a chateau in France can be a daunting challenge and knowing where to start is a key element in the process. Most serious buyers begin by searching the internet but how to get to the right agent is often quite baffling and confusing. Sifting through lots of unattractive or irrelevant listings only adds to the frustration.You will most likely experience a wide range of options but all with fall within the following categories.
Licensed French Agencies
France is no different to other counties: there are both good and not so good services when buying a property in France. A company that is legally authorized to sell real estate in France will have a license. This licence is called a Carte Professionnelle and it should be easy to find the agents license stated clearly on their web site. Once you have established that you are dealing with a licensed agent there are two agent business models operating in France: The Value model and The Volume model.
- The Value model
The majority of French estate agencies follow the volume model. This business model is based on a larger staff and as many properties as possible often with a high turnover (of both). Due to the size of the team the company owners tend to be more focused on staff management rather than real estate. The volume model usually cannot support niche product since the time it takes to sell a more specialised property can be longer. It works well for someone who is expecting to do a lot of market investigation themselves and does not need so much local/language/legal expertise. The caution is that there tends to be the pressure of closing sales competing with customer service since this model needs volume of turnover to succeed. The easy way to identify this type of business is to look at the property portfolio. If they cover everything from the cheapest renovation project to higher end properties they will typically fit this category.
- The Value model
These are agencies which are focussed on particular price brackets of the French property market or specific geographic areas. They are specialized with fewer properties and they are likely to be more selective offering higher value real estate from a smaller inventory. These agencies are fewer in number, “boutique” in nature with a business model based on handpicked properties. The agent will know the property very well and be able to give detailed advice. The disadvantage is that they can be more focused and so for some there is a worry that perhaps they are missing the perfect property. The basic premise is based on providing a service to buyers and sellers and as a result the quality of images and website content will tend to be noticeably better.
The French Agency business is full of “middle-men” who quite often position themselves as if they are Agents. The most prominent of these are marketing companies who are usually property portals gathering information and properties from licensed Agents. They are typically not based in France and they offer the advantage of a wide range of choices over a large geographic area of France. The primary problem with this type of company is that they invariably don’t have local knowledge and they will be unlikely to know the properties as they are typically based offshore.