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Buyer Beware…Put Your Trust in the Trustworthy

A woman looking at the real estate listing in the window of a real estate office in France

With so many Americans and British moving to France (as per my recent French Property Insider Nouvellettre®), all the real estate agencies are scrambling to get a piece of the action. They are recruiting English-speaking agents to build their team to appeal to this blossoming market. In addition, there are more and more English-speaking buyers’ agents jumping on the bandwagon.

One of the largest international agencies (U.S. based), I am told (by someone who used to work for them), that their philosophy is to add agents as fast as possible, train them up, and then let them sink or swim…with no “sectors” or geographical limits for the agents. According to my source, this is making some markets very overcrowded with their agents, which can confuse the market. Their particular compensation package is more generous than a typical French agency (such an American idea!) so even some seasoned agents have signed up with them. But, if as an agent they are new to the market, this can be a challenging situation that they don’t warn them about when recruited.

A real estate agency in France

For you, as a buyer, there is the old adage, “buyer beware.” A buyer’s agent who doesn’t search for property without any financial commitment from the buyer, meaning they will do the legwork on the hopes of finding something the buyer will like well-enough. Yes, that can save the client some money, but there’s the other old adage, “you get what you pay for.”

The agencies are always leery of buyers’ agents who are “kicking their tires,” just like the buyers are “kicking the tires” of the buyers’ agents, because they aren’t qualified in advance as serious buyers and therefore a lot of time can be wasted. In addition, the buyers’ agents expect to share in the agencies’ commissions, but the agencies are loathe to do that and generally steer clear of buyers’ agents who are not paid by the buyer, but by the commission split. This means they won’t have access to the best properties as a result.

A real estate agency in France

This doesn’t happen to us. Yes, we work if and when we get paid to work. That means we have only our clients’ interests in mind. It also means that the agencies work well with us, because we bring them qualified clients without it coming out of their pockets. It also means that we manage the clients and their “dossiers” (files), eliminating a lot of the work they might have to do, especially when it comes to hand-holding a foreign buyer. We also provide all the resources and do all the due diligence, so a buyer can depend on us to protect them on every level.

People who have lived in France for a while and have gotten a general “lay of the land” may tend to think they don’t need a buyer’s agent because they can go directly to the agencies themselves and visit properties on a whim on their own time. This is true, but the “can do” doesn’t mean it’s smart to represent oneself, or do the legwork oneself.

A real estate agency in France

The agencies have no way of qualifying these buyers and therefore may not take them very seriously, so the agents may not rush to return their calls and requests, like they might ours for that reason. They also hesitate to take on a foreign buyer, depending on how well they speak French or have an understanding of the process to make a purchase because it means a lot more work for them. In addition, that buyer has to be aware that the selling agent/agency represents the seller, not the buyer and therefore has no protection from the falsehoods they might tell or the information they might not provide that would prevent them from purchasing their property.

I’ve seen too many people go off on their own and end up making serious mistakes—such as making a bad judgment about the location (the number one most important attribute of a property), purchase in a building that will incur expensive future assessments, buying a property that has a “vice caché” (hidden defect), or not having fully understood the bylaws that prevent them from renting their property, when that was the initial investment intention. The list can be long as to what judgment errors can happen without the assistance of a professional who is looking out for their interests.

A real estate agency in France

We have an incentive program we offer to our rental search clients that reduces the fees by 10% if and when they make a purchase within two years of renting a property. We understand that these clients will have been living in France for up to two years gaining confidence to think they can do it on their own, when in fact, it’s still a big risk. Instead, it’s a kind of false confidence that can lead to those serious mistakes.

Our mission is to protect you and advise you with only your best interests in mind. All of our agents know that money has nothing to do with that…that as long as we put the customer’s needs, desires and interests above all else, that being 100% trustworthy ultimately benefits everyone in the long run.

Don’t underestimate the importance of working with those you know you can trust.

A la prochaine…

Photo of Adrian Leeds in an article, The World's Best Real Estate AgentAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Yesterday, Edith de Belleville made a fascinating presentation about the history of the Parisian Jews during the 17th-century at Après-Midi! Imagine? No need to. Read the report, see the photos and watch the video of the entire session by clicking here.


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