Your Insurance for Finding the Right Property
As I was walking into the building of Le Palais du Soleil last week, I was stopped by a couple who recognized me from House Hunters International. They were so happy to have spotted me because they have been looking at properties to buy, but weren’t happy with “their agent.”
Like most Americans who come from a system that we know as the “Multiple Listing Service” (MLS), the relationship one has with “their agent” is very different from what a buyer has in France. With the MLS, “their agent” has access to all properties on the market and expects to share their commission with the selling agent. This means that “their agent” works more for the buyer than the seller…for them, in this case.
In France there is no such system. In fact, this is why we exist, which I explained to them. “Their agent” was showing them properties that made no sense to them, wasting their time. They made no effort to find them a property, or even return their calls. For us, that kind of behavior is perfectly normal. An agent who can only sell the few properties their agency has listed and doesn’t want to deal with a foreign buyer—who needs a lot of hand-holding and perhaps language translation of documents, which would be very costly.
In America, because the properties must be accessible to all agents, there is usually a system called a “lockbox”—a box that holds the key to the house that usually hangs on the doorknob or nearby and opened by a code. This isn’t widely used in France. In fact, I’ve never seen one at all. This means the selling agent must either have the keys or arrange to meet the seller at the house or apartment. It takes coordination with everyone’s schedule.
The bottom line is that you, as a buyer, cannot expect to land in a location in which you have interest, contact one agent or agency and see properties that day that suit your wish list. The agency might have access to some, but those properties may not match your parameters, and they don’t care. They just want to sell what they have to sell…and may tell you just about anything to make the sale…or at least not tell the entire truth.
What we do is just the opposite. We scour the market for properties that fit your parameters. We only set up visits to see the properties that interest you. We work with agents who understand and appreciate our value as your representative. We do all the necessary due diligence and uncover any hidden or less-obvious problems with the property. We advise along the way. We are not “married” to any agent, agency or property because our interest is YOU. We protect you. You go into the transaction with your eyes wide open.
We think of it as “insurance.”
And the additional good news for you is that if there is a commission share with the selling agency, we pass on that savings to you! That could easily save you about 2.5% of the price of the property. For us, to accept the commission would be a “conflict of interests”—because then we’d be owing to the agency and we never want that! This commission share happens about half the time in the south of France, but almost never in Paris where the agents can be more independent, and therefore where it is even riskier to buy without us!
So, try to plan ahead. We need at least one week in advance of your arrival to do the search and set up the visits. This way you can see as many properties as possible, but only those that fit your needs, so no time is wasted. And the chances of finding that perfect property quickly are greatly increased!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. We were among the first expat real estate agencies to provide services for North Americans seeking to move to France or invest in French property. We have years of experience as well as relationships with top industry experts to help you with everything related to French property. Please visit our Services page for the full range of assistance we’re able to provide.