Ask the Experts
"I have owned a house in Vendée for 16 years and am thinking of selling it. I recently had an estate agent give me a valuation and was surprised when I had to ask for a written quotation and was asked to bring in documents of proof of ownership for their files. I was expecting them to direct me to a notaire. I did ask about a notaire dealing with it but was told they would carry out the sale. Is this the normal thing in France?"
Peter Elias of estate agency Allez Français (allez-francais.com) replies:There are many methods of estimating the value of a property in France. Fully qualified experts are known as experts immobilièrs and they charge for this service; by comparison, estate agents will generally provide a valuation free of charge.
Some agents – and this could be the case if yours is a modern property – want to see the ownership documents and then calculate the appropriate value from the square metre surface habitable of the property, based on local values.
By way of example, we tend to use a range of tools and knowledge to calculate a value. We would still want to see the proof of ownership documents demanded here, but we would visit the property to see its location and condition a first hand, and factor in matters such as the quality of renovation and the state of the kitchen, bathrooms and heating system. Proximity to airports, train stations, schools, shops and other services would also be considered.
Without a complete set of diagnostics, we are reluctant to advise accurately on price. How can you, for example, confirm a valuation if you do not know if the electrical installation is up to date, or the fosse septique conforms to the regulations? Unfortunately, some agents do offer assurances to their vendors despite not knowing the outcome of these reports.
Some notaires also as estate agents, but their advertising tends to be very limited and they may only find you a local buyer. You can of course appoint a notaire in addition to an estate agent if you wish.
You do not say whether this is a main residence or second home – if the latter, then capital gains tax could be another issue that needs to be taken into consideration.
This article is featured on page 84 of the October edition of French Property News.