French Properties Direct is a marketing company which advertises property for sale on behalf of property owners who wish to sell privately. Here Sue Adams, owner of the company, outlines her five top tips for anyone thinking of selling their French property:
Selling your French property in the current market is no easy task. Few people realise, when they buy a house in France, that the property market is slower than in the UK and whereas this has tended towards making the French property market much more stable than that in the UK in recent years the property slowdown worldwide has resulted in a huge amount of housing for sale in France – making it very definitely a buyer’s market. To get ahead of the game as a seller in this market takes planning, so here are our five top areas to concentrate on when selling in France:
As you would expect in a buyer’s market would be purchasers are price conscious. They do their research, compare properties via the internet and will not even consider visiting properties which they feel are overpriced. Whether you are advertising privately or through one or more estate agents, you must take time and do your own research before putting your house on the market. We recommend getting at least three estate agent valuations and then taking a view.
It also helps if the agents have slightly different backgrounds – for example a traditional French agent, an international agent and an agency which comes highly recommended. There is no science to valuing French properties as each house is so different to the next – and you may well find that the three valuations are wildly different.
We sold out own house recently and I followed my own advice here – to discover a 65% difference in price between the lowest valuation and the highest. We sold at roughly midway between the highest and lowest valuation.
A photograph speaks a thousand words so they say and almost all potential buyers ask for more photographs before arranging to view a property. It pays to take time and trouble and, if you are at all unsure, to get an expert to take the photographs for you. Make sure the main photograph (the ‘hero shot’) is the best it can possibly be as it is usually this alone which makes a potential buyer take a second look at your advert.
Choose good weather, no extraneous detail or clutter (e.g. make the bed, take the washing line down and move the car), but tell no lies. Picassa or Photoshop can be used to improve exposure or crop unnecessary background, but do not use it to eradicate an electricity pylon. It pays to plan ahead and if you launch your house onto the market in the spring then take some photographs the previous summer. The swimming pool on a summer’s day is very tempting, but photographed in the depths of winter it loses its appeal.
Before you market your house you must (unless exempt) have a “DPE” report prepared and adverts should include the report’s results. The DPE is carried out by a Societe d’Expertises (you will find them listed in Pages Jaunes). The same company will also do the full ‘expertise’ (termite check, electricity survey, inspection for lead in paint and asbestos etc.) once you have agreed a sale and are proceeding to signing the first contract.
Get several quotes; they do vary in price and you may find you prefer the attitude of one company over another. If you have a septic tank, that should also be surveyed before you put your property on the market. It can take several weeks to organise the inspection and receive the report. More than one sale that I know of has foundered because the signing of the compromise de vente was delayed and the buyers went cold while the vendors waited for their septic tank report to come through.
When you get a viewing be prepared. The house does need to look its best and smell good. Hide clutter, cut the grass, put the coffee on to brew and – if you have a dog, get someone to take it for a walk. If the buyer does not like dogs or if your own pet is particularly effusive this can ruin the first impression of what is otherwise a lovely property. If you are conducting the viewing yourself then plan it beforehand.
Who will do the viewing (the buyer does not want to feel crowded out by several of you all talking at once)? Where will you start and finish? Will you view outside first or inside first? Which door will you go into the house by and in what order will you view rooms? Where will you linger – and where will you walk briskly past? And after the viewing, ask for feedback. Even negative feedback is helpful as it helps you prepare better for next time.
Do not get disheartened if you do not sell straight away. Having your house on the market for well over a year is not unusual, even when the French market is good. Remember, you only need one buyer and they can pop up when you least expect them, so keep going.
Finally – once you agree an offer do not sit back. For sure, you cannot continue to market your house once you have agreed to sell it to someone, but you cannot sit back and relax either. Your potential house sale is not confirmed until the compromise is signed and any period of reflection or clause suspensive has been fulfilled, so deal with enquiries from the buyer or notaire promptly, keep channels of communications open and keep the property maintained to the same standard as it was when the buyer first saw it.
Good luck with your property sale, and for more information on the buying and selling process, have a look at our website where we give more extensive information for both buyers and sellers: