If it’s time to bid au revoir to your home in France, the market might just be in your favour. Here’s how to help yourself to a quick sale at the right price.
No matter why you want to sell to your French property (and we understand that it might be a happy or a sad choice), the market in France right now is buoyant in a way that we haven’t seen in the past 10 years. Good properties that are sensibly priced are coming on to the market and selling swiftly. This is a new phenomenon and it means that , if you have been toying with the idea of selling, this could be the moment to set the ball rolling. So, what should you expect from the selling process, and what can you do from the comfort of a UK armchair?
The first thing you need is to get an idea of the current market value of your property. A good agent in the area of your French home will be able to offer a free market appraisal. That might include examples of similar properties that have sold recently but also properties that have gone on to the market at too high a price and are ‘sticking’ as a result.
The market is good right now but it’s not a free-for-all and for a long time now, the internet has meant that buyers have been able to do plenty of research and therefore form their own opinions about value. A busy local agent will have current experience of the price the market will support for a particular type of property in a particular area.
Of course, if you want to try a speculative price that’s a little on the high side, you can give it a try but be prepared to wait longer for that one person who just falls in love with the property.
Best foot forward
First impressions can be everything and making your property look as nice as possible to potential buyers may take a little planning if you live elsewhere. It will repay the outlay if you can find someone local to keep the grass cut and bat away the cobwebs before any viewings. As you get into the summer season it always looks better if the pool can be is open and flower beds kept neat. If the house has been locked up for a long period of time it will be a good idea to have the windows opened and the rooms aired.
It goes without saying (doesn’t it?) that the property should be left clean, tidy, uncluttered and with beds made so that it looks its best on the day.
If your decor style is a little on the flamboyant side, consider starting to declutter (pack what you’re keeping, sell what you’re not). Brightly coloured walls aren’t to everyone’s taste – trends are more firmly in the neutrals, greys and off-white range at the moment so you might want to take a paintbrush to a room or two.
All the contracts needed to advertise your property online can now be signed digitally so there’s no bother with printing, signing and posting paperwork. It’s very straightforward and safe.
More and more property searches are done online these days, from initial internet searches to video tours, and 3D tours and even Livestream viewings where only the agent is at the property and prospective buyers dial in. Live streaming gives buyers an amazing opportunity to ‘walk through’ a property as if they were there, stop and ask questions and have a real look around. At the very least this can help someone rule a property in or out of a shortlist for a physical viewing and, on occasion, it can result in an offer.
If you have good wifi or a strong phone signal at your property, it may be worth asking your agent about offering Livestream viewings to prospective buyers.
Viewings often happen with little or no notice in France. People change their spec as they do their first few visits and realise what they are really looking for, and so an agent will have to add different properties into a tour at a moment’s notice. If you can leave a set of keys with the agent then you’ll have the best opportunity to capitalise on any possible last-minute visits. Second best is to leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbour who can open your house up in time for visits. Another option is to fit a key safe somewhere discreet and give the code to those people that might need it.
One thing to consider seriously if you are selling remotely, is an exclusive mandate. This way you would have one point of contact rather than trying to deal with multiple agencies.
The rise and rise of the internet as a search tool has some side benefits. The days of the tyre-kickers are well and truly behind us. Those holiday makers who took every rainy day as an open invitation to view properties just to pass the time are very few and far between and today most people who plan a viewing trip are in touch with an agent well in advance.
This means that, if a viewing is scheduled, the person looking to buy is serious and a decent agent will have checked how they intend to fund the purchase before agreeing to a visit.
Complete the deal
You might choose to offer your property for sale including contents, in which case there will be little to do when you get a deal. Otherwise, you’ll need to arrange to empty the property ahead of completion. Either way, the completion can go ahead without you being present if you sign a power of attorney (a procuration).
Whatever your motivation for selling, you will have a bank of memories of your place in France that no one can take from you – and that’s as good as money in the bank.
Julie Savill is marketing director of Beaux Villages Immobilier estate agency in France