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Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
Now is NOT the time to look for property to purchase or rent in France. The owners and agents take their annual vacations between July and August and therefore the pickin's are slim and the services unavailable. That being said, I've known many buyers to find real bargains in the month of August for that very reason -- those sellers and landlords who are in the market are desperate to find a customer...so if you are particularly tenacious, it can be both the worst of times and best of times.
Still, it makes more sense if you plan for the Fall to maximize your search potential when "La Rentrée" puts everyone back at home, in the mood and the mode.
The real estate landscape in France continues to try to evolve into a more cooperative environment among agencies, but without an "MLS" (Multiple Listing Service) like in the U.S., that will be truly near to impossible. Even the franchised agencies, such as Century 21, ERA and Orpi are just that -- franchised and therefore the agencies are individually owned and operated. While they may cooperate better among them, their nature is to protect their best offerings which would yield the total commission rather than offer them up to their "sister" agencies and share commissions.
The Wikipedia.org definition of a multiple listing service is "a suite of services that enables real estate brokers to establish contractual offers of compensation (among brokers), facilitates cooperation with other broker participants, accumulates and disseminates information to enable appraisals, and is a facility for the orderly correlation and dissemination of listing information to better serve broker's clients, customers and the public." Because all properties in the U.S. with some small exceptions, are part of the service, a broker is more focused on "the client" than "the sale." It is natural for an American to depend on one agent to find the right property, rather than contacting multiple agencies, simplifying the process and putting trust in the agent.
This is not so in France. Paris is the most stalwart market of the state with less willingness to share information than most others while the agents in the South are more open. In Nice there is what they 'call' an MLS -- The Paris Sharing, but it's no more than a Web site and a cooperative to which many, but not all, agencies belong. It's a start...but incomplete.
For the average buyer, having access to the entire market is near to impossible without the assistance of a "chercheur immobilier" or search consultant. The French agencies which offer this service perform the search free of charge and are remunerated upon the final sale by sharing of commissions. It costs the buyer nothing in fees, but sadly, the service works against the buyer because 1) the chercheur is working for nothing until a property is sold and therefore is wasting a lot of time with less-serious clients (what we call "tire-kickers") and ultimately has little incentive, 2) is obligated to share commissions with the agencies and therefore is at an immediate disadvantage having access to only the lesser properties the agencies cannot sell otherwise and 3) is loathed by the agencies for both of these reasons.
Smart buyers employ bona fide search consultants who charge a fee, but provide a true service. We are one of those agencies and in fact, was one of the very first to offer the service -- as long ago as 2002, specializing in a North American buyer, hence our slogan "French Property the American Way."
We understand that North Americans and other English-speaking foreigners have particular needs and that approaching the market from their American perspective is very important. Trusting in the agent is key, as well as understanding the landscape...the laws, the language, the process, etc., etc., is what makes or breaks a successful investment.
Not all search consultants work the same way, but we offer the service with an advance consultation fee based on an investment budget that includes the consultation, the search and the visits. At the final signing of the deed, there is a finder's fee based on a small percentage of the price of the property. We provide all the resources which would be difficult for you to find on your own, particularly those you can trust, and we liaise throughout the purchase process to the end. In addition, we provide mortgage assistance and advice, as well as associates to manage renovation/decoration, utilities hook-ups and finally property management.
Regardless of whether you choose our service or another of equal standing, I'd never advise a foreigner to navigate this landscape alone without professional guidance. That could end up costing a whole lot more than the fees associated with the service.
If you have any questions whatsoever about the way it works here in France and what you can expect, do not hesitate to contact us and ask. Our motto is full disclosure, honesty and trustworthiness, with only the interests of our clients in mind...not our pocketbooks.
P.S. The Adrian Leeds Group and our partner Paris-Sharing, is seeking a "Chief Number Cruncher" -- We could have called this job "chief controller" or "management accountant" or "online payments manager" or "spreadsheet wizard," but our needs cover all of these. In fact, the job is as big as your potential and curiosity. We are also seeking a "Hospitality Operations Manager" -- a customer-focused, energetic, resourceful operational manager who will make our guest's dream come true, supervise a complex process of service delivery, from booking the apartment to ensuring all goes well during the guest's stay. For more information, visit Paris Sharing or send your LinkedIn profile or CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
P.P.S. French Property Insider will not be published on August 4th while I am vacationing on the island of Mallorca -- a new adventure for a European vacation. You will still get your promised 50 issues a year, however!
Working and Living in France
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Consultation can be arranged in person, by phone, or email with Adrian Leeds.
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