When selling a French property, it can be confusing to know what to consider when choosing an estate agent. Here’s some expert advice.
You found your dream French property, but now it’s time for a change – perhaps you’re planning to downsize, move somewhere more convenient, or have new business commitments. Either way, if it’s your first time selling a French property you may be wondering whether to put your trust in one estate agent or sign up with several agencies. Matthew Cameron advises how to best proceed.
When selling a French property there is no right answer to whether you should use one or several estate agents, so long as you are careful about the choices you make. First of all think about who the property will most likely appeal to: if it’s an international market, then using an international agency or at least one that is well-recognised in other jurisdictions, is likely to be a good idea.
Using multiple agencies is likely to broaden the scope of potential buyers, although it may result in higher commissions being payable. If you decide to employ more than one agent, be careful to ensure that any potential buyer should only be introduced by one agency, at the risk of having to pay two amounts of agency commission.
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When engaging an agency, give consideration to the terms of the sales mandate you will be asked to sign. This is not just a meaningless form, it constitutes the contract between you as seller and the agency, setting out what you both can and must do, and what each party is entitled to.
The terms of the mandate should specify a minimum length of time before either party can terminate it, should they so wish. The mandate will also set out the maximum period for which it can run before it simply lapses (presuming no buyer is found).
More importantly, it will set out how the commission is to be calculated: a fixed amount, or a specific percentage of whatever amount is agreed.
There are a number of terms within most standard mandates for sale and these need to be understood in some detail. A firm of solicitors with expertise in French law should be able to analyse the mandate in advance of its completion, to ensure that it is in order.
Once the agent has been formally instructed in this way, the next step for them is to carry out the standard pre-sale diagnostic checks before (hopefully) finding a buyer very quickly!
Matthew Cameron is Partner and head of French legal services at Ashtons Legal