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The 40 Keys vs the MLS

Volume XVII, Issue 33

Les 40 Clés de l’Immobilier

multiple listing service real estate 

The Chambre des Notaires de Paris wants property buyers to be well informed. Hot off the press is their new book, Les 40 Clés de l’Immobilier (“The 40 Keys to Real Estate”) (published by Eyrolles Editions), to provide in-depth information for those who do not have a lot of experience in the real estate market.

When you decide to buy or sell a home or apartment, it is not always easy to identify all the criteria to be taken into account in order not to make costly mistakes. Between rising and falling prices, the cost of access to housing and the limited resources of buyers, between the practicality of new programs and the charm of the old, the difficulty of finding the “home of one’s dreams” and the criteria that must not be compromised…the questions are numerous and the finding the answers can often be difficult.

One reason for this, which their “40 Keys” doesn’t explain, is that the system in France lacks what the U.S. has: the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Wikipedia.org describes it as “a suite of services that real estate brokers use to establish contractual offers of compensation (among brokers) and accumulate and disseminate information to enable appraisals. A multiple listing service’s database and software is used by real estate brokers in real estate, representing sellers under a listing contract to WIDELY SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT PROPERTIES WITH OTHER BROKERS WHO MAY REPRESENT POTENTIAL BUYERS OR WISH TO WORK WITH A SELLER’S BROKER IN FINDING A BUYER FOR THE PROPERTY OR ASSET. The listing data stored in a multiple listing service’s database is the proprietary information of the broker who has obtained a listing agreement with a property’s seller.

This sharing of information in France only happens on portal-type sites to which the brokers subscribe to promote their properties for sale, but this is NOT a sharing of information among brokers. The concept of the MLS is as old as the late 1800s when brokers first gathered in local associations with the basic principal of “you help me sell my inventory and I’ll help you sell yours.” When a property is listed on the MLS, that information is shared country wide, allowing any broker to sell any property and therefore allowing customers to work with only one agent. In effect, the agent works more for the buyer than the seller. This cooperative effort benefits both the buyer and the seller, as well as the agent, operating within a truly free market system, acting as a powerful force for competition. The playing field is leveled as a result, so that even the smallest of agencies can compete with the biggest of firms. In addition, consumers have access to the largest pool of properties plus a real choice of which broker with whom they wish to work.

Quite honestly, it’s brilliant. And it’s American free enterprise at its finest. It’s for this reason that our American buyers in France have so much trouble understanding why they don’t have the same easy access to finding property and why they can’t count on any one broker to help and protect them. And this is why the Chambre des Notaires de Paris is compelled to publish a book such as “The 40 Keys to Real Estate.” This is also why, as property consultants and property finders, we even exist! If the MLS existed in France, I suppose I’d be out of a job!

The “40 Keys” offers explanations on 40 themes, while reflecting on the singular and very important aspects of real estate sales: Does property ownership make someone happy? What are the psychological forces of the real estate market? Which home should one buy for a given budget? The book also takes the view of the purchaser as well as the seller to answer the questions raised by each step of the real estate transaction.

La Base d'Informations Economiques Notariales

French property market report - purchases by foreign non-residents

The writing and production of this book is the fruit of an alliance between the Notaires and the brokers, written by Bertrand Savouré, President of the Chambre des Notaires de Paris; Marie Blanchard, Associate Professor of Private Law Universities and Chargée de Mission in the Chambre des Notaires de Paris. “40 Keys” is also based on data from real estate databases of the chamber including the database BIEN (La Base d’Informations Economiques Notariales), whose analysis illuminates, for the general public, the functioning of the real estate market.

This book is, of course, intended for any reader wishing to make an informed decision in real estate, especially the first-time buyer who doesn’t have the support of…that one agent we know we can trust, like we do in U.S. In France, a book like this is a very small step for a buyer, who must gather a lot of information and experience to ensure he makes the right decisions, trusting no one other than himself, as the agents in effect, work for the seller, not the buyer.

What we do as consultants and property-finders, to compensate for the lack of sharing of information in the French system, is pull together all the various listings into one pool of data, but specifically suited to the buyer’s needs and desires…after determining exactly what those parameters are. You cannot expect to come to us with your list of criteria and assume we will just take your direction without questioning your motivation and goals. It is our job to ensure that you understand fully the project you’re undertaking and what you can expect as the results for your investment and your future. That means putting your ideas under the microscope before setting out on what could be a course leading to costly mistakes.

We also provide all the due diligence on your behalf, to read through the documentation, explain and discuss it, so that you fully understand the documents you will be signing and how that will affect you in the future (inheritance and taxes, etc.). We hold your hand throughout the process, provide the resources and the counselors who will assist you in making informed decisions. In effect, we’re the MLS and we’re the “insurance” that protects you.

Adrian Leeds consulting with prospective buyers on House Hunters International, Epernay

I warn you now, if you are contemplating making a property purchase in France: Do not think you can trust ONE agent, or any agent to represent you as a buyer. Do not think that because you have Internet access that you have access to every property on the market. Do not think that because you work with a Notaire that even the Notaire will protect you from making mistakes. As an American buyer, if you do this on your own, without a representative or consultant, but only with the “40 Keys” provided by the Chambre des Notaires de Paris, that you can be safe and sound making an investment in France. Yes, you can do it on your own, but you do it at your own risk.

Read more about the 40 Keys here (in French).

You can also consult the summary of the book in pdf (in French). 

To learn more about the Adrian Leeds Group complete property services, visit our website or email [email protected] for specific descriptions and rates for each of our services.

A bientôt,

Adrian Leeds - on an episode of House Hunters International

Adrian Leeds
Adrian Leeds Group

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P.S. We have also developed relationships with a number of financial and tax experts to assist our clients. For more information, please visit our Global Money Services page today.

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