Growing up with a broker/realtor parent, MLS became part of my early vocabulary. So when my husband and I began looking at houses to buy in France, I was surprised to find there isn’t a database of all listed homes and properties. I rarely have a gripe about how things are done in France. I love it here and I’m used to the differences in mentality and way of life. This is just one thing I feel could be greatly improved to simplify the lives of buyers and sellers of real estate.
To find a house in France, you must go to each individual agency and see their listings. Not all agencies post their listings online, or will only post selected properties! If you are house hunting, you will need to personally go from agency to agency to find the best deal. Our first house was never listed on the Internet. It was for sale at an agency nearby for 2 years, and then listed at a local agency for 6 months. The realtor told us he didn’t want to waste his time with calls that lead him nowhere since the house was priced very low – our neighbors were shocked at the low price and convinced us to go for it (great decision after all, by the way). All our realtor had was an unattractive, unclear black and white photograph of the front of the house and it’s basic details. We set an appointment to view the house, but cancelled it because we thought we’d be wasting all of our time. One day, we were bored and driving around, so we did a drive-by. I’m so glad we did!
Because there isn’t a centralized database, sellers can list their homes with multiple agencies. Doing this increases the odds they will find a buyer, since real estate agents at one agency are unable to show listings from another agency. You can even sell your home by owner, as well as have agencies showing it. Of course, agencies don’t like this because you’re at an advantage without having to add commission to the price. We’ve recently decided to place our house in Normandy for sale by owner temporarily until baby #3 arrives to help give us the best shot on selling it soon. It’s a bit stressful having a house on the other side of the country sitting empty, especially with a newborn coming along to demand our extra attention.
As a buyer and seller, I find it tedious not having access to a central database. As a buyer, I prefer visiting one website (like realtor.com) to search for homes. It doesn’t matter who’s selling the house, you’ll find all listings in one place. There are websites like seloger.fr, which any agency can list their properties. However, not all agencies post their listings on these sites, and if they do, they may not post all their properties.
In the US, you only need to visit one real estate office to view all the houses on your list, making it an easy process. Of course, some people choose to go with the listing agent for each property to try to add more room for negotiation. When we were searching for a house in Normandy, we met with at least 5 different realtors to look at homes within 25 minutes of each other. We settled on a home that we found on leboncoin.fr that was for sale by owner.
As a seller, I didn’t like handing our key to multiple offices. I would have preferred one person in charge of the key or code to a key box. It took much time showing the house to all our realtors, signing contracts, and now, keeping in constant contact with them. We could have chosen only one realtor to make life simple, but we could miss out on a buyer who visits one office and not the others. Listing it with each office increases the odds we’ll quickly find a buyer.
Have you bought or sold a house in France? What was your experience?
Pat Gregory says
I disagree..my daughter is an immobilier and I think they do earn their fee. In the UK most agents work within a much smaller radius and 9 out of ten houses are occupied, meaning the agent makes an appointment for the prospective buyers to view the house. In France the Agent visits with the interested party sometimes with a list of several houses to see, with the probability of covering anything between 100 to 250 kilometres in a day, depending on how far away from each other! Also there is the language barrier, as the majority of owners would naturally be French, making it imperative for a bilingual agent to be present. The immobilier is also responsible for drawing up the compromis and dealing with the reams of paperwork that this involves, especially if the house is an inheritance, she could be dealing with 5-10-15 different people!!! After a great deal of further paperwork and liaising with the notaries, a date is set for signing of the final contract..and if the buyers are English etc, a translator( my daughter is bilingual remember) is required by law to make sure the contract is understood by all! All documents are translated into English, services put on, schools found for children etc…I think she really earns her fee, compared to what a UK Estate Agent has to do to earn his money!!
I’m a real estate broker in California for over 30 years and all i will say is that the movie “dirty rotten scoundrels” is not much off.
This is the land, SOF , of the summertime rich who come to play with their megayachts and fancy cars.
The agents, who do not need to be licensed (no accountability) just the office they work for hope to find a rich fish or ignorant buyer and are clueless as far as real estate value. The proof is that the prices are priced hundreds of thousands above COMPS who only NOTAIRES have access to.
So if a Scandinavian sees a home thats priced 200k above real value , your daughter or my daughter close their eyes and pitch it for 50k less and as a great opportunity
Only when they go to sell to sellers find out how much they overpaid
And thats why homes stay on the market for years. Unlike California which is days, weeks max.
So nice story about your immobillier daughter which are a dime a dozen and have the worse reputation (and not because they are bad people, but because the system is designed to create greed) So because I live now in Antibes and have spoken with several agents as I was going to open an American agency with FULL transparency as its really disgusting how the French gov’t is allowing this to go on.
The market is stagnant, VERY stagnant and the only solution is mandatory licence for each agent and hold them accountable for disclosures and FULL transparency on COMPS etc. The Notaire fees and agents fees are a scam. Period.
I have closed thousands of transactions in my 32 years and im now retired. The French are stubborn in their old fashion ways…..but change is coming.
M. Gregoire says
I agree with you, the French Real Estate System is broken. Each agency is a small fiefdom with the goal of listing and selling. We have a beautiful house for sale in the South of France. We have 24 agencys involved….basically made our own MLS. Why you ask, because they do not prospect for clients and rarely share information amongst themselves. The companies have an internet site with some properties, they may use a portal like “Luxe Residence” and then they just wait for clients to arrive. Out of 24 agencies, there are only a handful that are worthwhile.
Where in the south of France is your house?
Julie Farrar says
This is very informative. We have an apartment in one of the larger French cities that we bought at the spur of the moment (“yes, we MUST live here!”) and bought through an immobilier friend of a friend. Since buying that one and contemplating upgrading our residence in the future I’m just now coming to understand how the system works. Too complicated. Back in the U.S. we’re looking to move into a new house and all I can say is thanks heavens for the MLS. I can shop for houses from a comfy chair and then call my agent when I see something that meets our criteria. Saves a lot of time.
David Hennessey says
I read your article and the comments with interest.
Perhaps we can chat to exchange stories. I came from North America with my family to France.
I am also created a network to help English speaking people learn how the French real estate system works. Maybe you would like to learn more?
I spend my days in French. I will be happy to speak English with you
Good idea, David. Contact me too!