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The Search Process

A property for sale sign with the coastline and Nice in the distance

How does the search to find a property in France work?

There’s no real secret to it. But, start with the idea that there is no Multiple Listing Service in France. Sure, there are websites that act as “portals” on which you can find a lot of listings, but not ALL listings…only the ones the agencies are willing to pay for listing online. That means the best properties probably aren’t online.

Logo from the splashpage for the MLS website

Next, add to that the fact that agencies are not always willing to share their commissions with another agency. This NEVER happens in Paris, but does happen in the South and other parts of France, where we find it to be the case about one-third to one-half of the time. Consider that a really salable property needs no other agent/agency, so why would they share their commissions?

This means that the agencies aren’t sharing their information, either. Even chain agencies are each franchised, so even if they belong to a group, such as Century 21, Orpi, Era or Keller Williams, they might behave very independently.

Storefront facade for A Coldwell Banker real estate office in Paris

Take all this into consideration and realize that the agents only have their pocket of properties to sell, therefore they represent the seller, not the buyer. You as a buyer, cannot trust the agent to give you unbiased advice and information. They don’t care what you buy, as long as you buy it from them. So, you can imagine what information they might give you, or not give you, in order to make the sale.

Add again to this, that the agents aren’t really prepared to hand-hold a foreign buyer, which is a considerable amount of work. When I hear complaints that the agents don’t respond to requests, it isn’t surprising, knowing that you may be the kind of clients they don’t want…and maybe don’t need, either.

An apartment for sale sign in the window of an apartment in Paris

The truth of it is that this is the reason we exist. We’re your insurance that someone has your interests in mind and only yours…not the seller’s.

The search for properties is an arduous task as you might have already discovered. We go online to see what the agencies have listed, but we don’t count on that list being viable. Lots of properties will stay on their sites until the final closing which is months after the commitment is made to buy it, so many of the listings aren’t available at all. This is true for signs you see in their agency windows or on the properties themselves. Really great properties don’t stay on the market more than a week and the really, really great properties never make it to the websites because they can sell too easily. It takes making a good relationship with the agent/agency to unearth the truly great properties.

Facade for a real estate office in France

And this is something we can do easily, because we bring them a qualified client for which they have to do nothing, since we’re doing all the heavy lifting and hand-holding. They LOVE us! And that means they will LOVE YOU, the client, too.

Visiting properties isn’t as simple as you might think, either. The agents don’t have non-stop access to properties with a key in a lock-box that anyone can enter. Every visit must be set up with the seller and the agent must have the keys. All this takes time…to do the research and set up the visits.

Real estate office in a half-timbered, stone building in France

Let’s say you land in a place and you get the urge to visit properties on the market. If you walk into an agency, they will either lick their chops or ignore you, depending on their need to sell a property or not. They will have immediate access to maybe a handful of properties, but not necessarily to the ones that fit your need and desires. They don’t care—they just want to sell SOMETHING.

And if you walk in unrepresented by us or another agency, there is definitely no commission share. You’ve gone “direct.” You’ll be on your own. With us, if we bring the client, and if we have a commission share, we refund it back to the client, so it’s a savings of about 2.5 percent of the purchase price!

A woman looking at the apartments for sale display in the window of a real estate office in France

The point is that the best way to do an effective and efficient search is to plan ahead. If you contract with us at least one to two weeks ahead of your stay in France, we can do the search, line up the properties—only those that make sense for YOU—and set up the visits to fit your schedule. The agents will immediately know that we bring the buyer and therefore will be willing, when possible, to share the commission.

You might think you’re financially ahead of the game by representing yourself, but I can assure you, it’s a big mistake on many levels. There is simply too much you need to know and learn in advance that can seriously trip you up and cost you beaucoup bucks, not to mention time and aggravation.

A real estate office on a sidestreet in Paris

The Notaires who process the transaction, are also not really your advocates. They will represent you and protect you in the transaction itself, but it’s not their job to hand-hold or advise, either. So, whether you do this with us or another agency, one that represents the buyer, don’t do it alone. Do it with professionals you can trust.

You can trust us to always be 100 percent truthful and straightforward (even when the truths are hard to take) so that you are protected on every level from making big mistakes. Ask any of our clients if this is not the case!

To learn more about what we do…FOR YOU, visit our website.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds on her laptop, outdoors in Villfranche-sur-MerAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Adrian is everywhere! Not only do we have our Adrian Leeds Group website, you can also like and follow us on our two Facebook pages: Adrian Leeds Group and Adrian Leeds On House Hunters International, Twitter and Instagram. If you haven’t done so already, LIKE us today!



  1. Rebecca Lopez on April 20, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    I recognize the location of your closing picture…enjoying a sunny day at the Dry Bar in Ville-Franche! We enjoyed having a late breakfast there on our first day arriving at La Belle Terresse. Hope you have tried the Acai Bowl with the Mango Caviar… that was fantastic!

    • Adrian Leeds Group on April 21, 2022 at 8:48 am

      We haven’t tried the Dry Bar yet and the Acai Bowl sounds delicious! This photo was taken when Adrian was having lunch next door at Lou Bantry.

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