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?