Need Help Purchasing or Selling a Property in France? You Came to the Right Place!
I know it’s really hard NOT to look in the windows of real estate agencies or peruse the property sites looking at properties to buy in France. And then there’s the strong urge to visit some properties while you’re on the ground in France. It’s a natural thing to do, and from a North American perspective, one might think it’s also really simple. In the U.S. because of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) you can talk to one agent and have access to everything on the market. On top of that, they use a system of lock boxes so that any agent can access the property to show it. That’s what makes it simple in the U.S., but that’s not the way it works in France.
What happens here is that we find a lot of folks who can’t help themselves from looking in those agency windows, going into the agency, seeing one or even two properties the agency has for sale, or falling in love with a property they have seen online, and are ready to make an offer that minute…a form of immediate self-satisfaction, even though they basically know that it’s a bit impulsive, especially when making such a big decision.
I want to caution you, however. Because there is no MLS, each agency only has its own group of properties they wish to sell, so your choices will be very limited. And the agents who only have those properties to sell may do or say what they need, just to convince you…otherwise, they lose the sale to another agency or property. So, in this case, it’s “BUYER BEWARE.”
Fortunately for impulsive people, we have a service designed just for you. It’s not the best way to go about finding the best property for you to buy, but at least it will prevent you from making a big mistake. We call it “Purchase Assistance.”
Here’s how it works:
You must find the property yourself and identify it as the property you want to buy. For a fee, we will visit it on your behalf and give you a professional opinion. If it gets a thumbs up, then you’re good to go and we can take over the job of doing all of the due diligence and holding your hand all throughout the process, including providing all the resources and ensuring that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed so that you can walk away with the keys to the property of your dreams with no risks. In this case, you will have paid a commission to the selling agent and a fee to us for doing this work to protect you…but it’s worth it to have that confidence when spending so much money. We like to think of it as “insurance.”
If the property gets a thumbs down, then it’s a different story. A property can get nixed for a lot of reasons, especially the ones you find online which don’t tell the whole story. Many properties advertised on agency sites are actually already in process of the sale which takes several months, but they don’t want to remove the listing until it closes. Agents will also show you properties that are “under contract” just in case the sale falls through and you could be their backup.
If we don’t recommend you buy the property you found, we cannot turn around and go chase after another property you found yourself for the same fee. We will, however, begin a full search to canvas all of the agencies and all of the possible properties on the market to find you something as perfect as possible. And the reason this makes so much sense is not only because your choices will multiply tenfold, but because if we introduce the client to the agency, the chances are high that there is a commission to share —about half the time outside of Paris (where the agencies refuse to share commissions). Fortunately for you we count that commission share toward the fees we charge, meaning you get a big fat savings…of about 2.5% of the price of the property!
So, the point is, that it’s not worth you doing this on your own. In the end, you could end up paying us very little to have done all the work and protected you along the way.
Let me outline this more clearly for you. Let’s say you find a two-bedroom apartment in Nice with one of the “zillion” agencies there that you really liked a lot. You’re dying to get your hands on an apartment with a sea view and a big balcony. This one has it all…at least it seems so…and the agent told you it had been a good short-term rental apartment in the past so you’ll make tons of money. You see it needs to be renovated and the agent convinces you can do a new kitchen and bath for under 15,000€. Now, you’re drooling and can’t wait to sign on the dotted line.
The listing price is 500,000€. The agency commission included in that 500,000€ is 5% or 25,000€. You have no idea if this is a good price or not, but you want this property so bad you can taste it. So, you make an offer, or you say “I’ll take it” and the agent suggests that you sign the pre-sale agreement in his/her office as quickly as possible…maybe that day even! They don’t want to lose the sale, and they tell you that there is another buyer chompin’ at the bit. If you don’t commit to it NOW, you’ll lose it. That’s what they might say and you won’t know if it’s the truth or not.
That’s when we get a call from you anxious to make this happen with the fear that you might lose this dream apartment, the one that they told you would make you tons of money in rentals plus it has that fabulous sea view and a big balcony. What more could you want? Sign now!
This is dangerous! All of the documents are in French. Do you understand French legalese? Do you understand the system? Do you know how to structure the purchase? Have you read all of the diagnostics, the homeowner assembly notes, or the building bylaws? Stop now! You never want to sign an agreement without the sanction of a Notaire who will take responsibility for the documentation and the transaction.
We can explain that with our service, our advance fee is about one-third of the fee we charge to do a full search, so yes, that’s a savings. And for our fees, we will do all the due diligence to protect you, provide all the trusted professional resources and perform all the tasks necessary to finalize the purchase.
If everything looked great, and you had proceeded with the purchase, your costs would have been the 5% agency commission, plus our fees to do the work and protect you.
But, let’s say while we were looking at the documents, we discovered that the property does not have the necessary permissions to rent short-term (even though it used to be a rental at one time), and our designer/contractor gives you a more realistic estimate to update the kitchen and bath—more than double or triple what the agent said (who wanted to sell the apartment, remember?). Now the property doesn’t look so interesting to you—but at least you found out before making a big mistake.
This is when we can transfer the Purchase Assistance Service over to a Search for a Purchase. We will apply the advance fees you paid to a new and higher search fee, so nothing is lost. We will ferret out dozens of properties from many agencies. We will find you something similar, or much better, and perhaps at a better price, too, because we know how to negotiate with the selling agent who, remember, wants to make the sale. And best of all, if the agency is willing to share their commission with us, you will have a savings of about 2.5%!
In the end, you’ll have a better property having cost you less, with a whole lot less work and angst.
Either way, we never recommend making a purchase in France on your own, unless you are already well versed on the market and the process, you have plenty of time to really do the legwork, you already have your own resources and you’re confident you can understand the documents. (Keep in mind that if you have the documents translated to English, the high cost could have been better spent having us do the heavy lifting explain it all to you!)
The bottom line is that if you are perusing the agency windows or surfing the internet, if you let us do the search and make the introduction to the agency, your chances of finding a perfect property FOR YOU are much better and definitely safer, while potentially saving you quite a bit of money. So, are you sure you want to go do this on your own?
Now, let’s say you’ve decided to sell your property and need help doing that. We are licensed and can list your property for sale, but we are very discriminating—we will only list a property that we recommend our clients/readers buy and only those that fit the profile of our market. This doesn’t mean that the property you own isn’t fabulous! It just means that we know when we can be successful and when we can’t.
In cases like this, rather than take on the property as our listing, we offer what we call “Sales Assistance.” We can handle all the elements of the transaction between you and your prospective buyers, taking the work and stress out of the sale. We perform all the tasks that you’d be required to do as the seller of a property, but don’t have the time, or wherewithal to do…much less the resources we have.
We’ll help you price the property, and contract the various resources. We start with finding a listing agent that we know has a good chance of selling the property quickly. Working with them, we will contract a licensed diagnostician to provide the necessary diagnostic certificates required for the sale. We will also employ a Notaire and any other professionals required. We act as the liaison between you, the Notaire, and the Syndic (managing agent) to provide all of the documents required by the sale and do the due diligence, including the Promessse or Compromis de Vente and Acte de Vente. And we can sign the documents on your behalf with a specific power of attorney.
In other words, we can manage the transaction on your behalf seamlessly while you sit back and relax. And you can build in the costs of the service to your selling price so that you’ll have no out-of-pocket.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with John Hadida at March’s Après-Midi Paris
P.S. Sorry if you missed attending yesterday’s Après-Midi with tax advisor Jonathan Hadida! The good news is that you don’t have to miss it, even if you weren’t there— the session was recorded! You can learn more about it and watch it by clicking here.
P.P.S. SPECIAL NOTE TO VOTERS OF LOUISIANA:
If you are as unhappy with the way the U.S. treats us citizens living outside of the U.S., I have a special request for you Louisiana voters. Please send the following email (with your own edits, of course) to Katie Hadji (Legislative Director & General Counsel), and Hunter Thompson (Policy Advisor), with a copy to Laura Jane Snyder and me. Below is a template that you can use or feel free to modify it to suit you. Most notably, you can personalize the description of the problems you face as a result of U.S. laws.
Just be sure that the email you send does these three essential things: (1) Indicates the district in Louisiana where you are registered to vote, (2) states that you are not able to travel to Washington DC, and (3) asks for Senator Cassisdy’s office to meet with AARO on your behalf.
Dear Ms. Hadji,
I am an American living overseas who is registered to vote in the [INSERT NUMBER] district of Louisiana.
As an overseas American directly affected by the extraterritorial application of a number of U.S. laws. These laws concern, in particular, taxation and banking, as well as social security and medicare, voting, and citizenship.
Senator Bill Cassidy’s committee assignments include the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP, Ranking Member), and the Senate Committee on Finance. The subject matter of the HELP committee includes pensions; the principal subject matter of the Finance committee is taxation. These two subject matters are of vital interest to overseas Americans. The extraterritorial application of U.S. tax laws, including the taxation of pensions, makes it difficult for me to invest and save for retirement, own a home, operate a small business, and even have a bank account in the country where I live. Senator Cassidy’s membership on these committees means he has considerable influence over the laws that directly affect me and all other Louisianans living overseas.
The not-for-profit Association of Americans Resident Overseas (https://aaro.org/ (AARO) does vital work advocating on behalf of me and other overseas Americans, including others from Louisiana. I understand that you have been contacted by Laura Snyder (copied on this email) seeking an appointment with your office on either May 10 or 11, 2023, during AARO’s Overseas Americans Week. The purpose of the meeting is for a delegation from AARO (Laura Snyder together with one or two other persons) to discuss with you the taxation and other issues facing overseas Louisianans (and all overseas Americans), and how Senator Cassidy can help them.
I ask that you please meet with the AARO delegation. I live overseas and am unable to travel to Washington, DC. The volunteer members of the AARO delegation are well-versed on the relevant issues and I ask that you consider them to be my representatives to you.
In advance, thank you.
IF YOU ARE NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE IN LOUISIANA:
If you would like to assist with the campaign in any way, but are registered to vote in another U.S. State, please send an email to Laura Snyder letting her know where you are registered to vote, the state and district. Laura will be in touch and anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated!