Buying a house privately in France

Buying a house privately and avoiding steep estate agent’s fees of 5-10% might seem like a good idea and and an appealing route to take but, if you are house hunting in France, it pays to understand the French property market first and to know the region. In France, 30% of people buy property privately (know as entre particuliers). The figure is even higher when you take just French buyers and sellers into account. There are, however, various pitfalls to be aware of if you are thinking of taking this route.

One of the problems with private sales can be that often the owner has decided to sell privately because they think their house is worth more than the local agents have estimated. They might be right but it is unlikely; most sellers will ask at least three agents to value their property before putting it on the market and these agents will usually know their area and the market very well and have a very good idea of the value of the house. Of course they might not take into account the very expensive finishes and special details of which the seller is hugely proud but it is a competitive market and they will have an idea of how much anyone will pay for a certain type of property in a particular area. Hence, with a private sale, you can in fact end up paying more than a house is actually worth.

In addition, the seller may well advertise the house privately at a higher price than it is being marketed with an agent; something that happens surprisingly frequently and often catches out foreign buyers. Even more importantly, however, there are sometimes other reasons why an owner doesn’t want to sell through an agent. Usually this is because there are either problems with the property or the location, something that an agent will be obliged to point out to the buyer but will not necessarily be discovered by a private buyer or picked up by the Notaire.

Don’t let this put you off private sales, most are fine but it is important to know the area and the prices or at least have a professional by your side who can advise you. If you need help with your property search, please get in touch:

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