Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Selling a property in France? Estate agency fees and 'Mandats' explained

In the UK, it is more common for vendors to have a sole agent contract with their estate agent, and pay a slightly lower percentage in fees, than for a multiple agency. Here in France, the opposite is the case.

It is illegal for an agency here to advertise a property without a valid mandat, and it is also normal for the agency to have a simple diagnostic check carried out to confirm the energy efficiency (DPE report) for the property.

The mandat sets out quite specifically who pays the fees (buyer or seller), and the details of the property being sold. Good agents will describe the property in reasonable detail, and include land parcel numbers.

The mandat also needs to be signed by all parties involved in the ownership. We sometimes come across examples where an estate agent has only obtained a widow’s authority for a mandat, when in reality, if there are, say, three children by their marriage, the three children should also sign the mandat and subsequent paperwork. Without this detail, the agent could be doing an awful lot of work for nothing

There are three types of mandate, which are outlined as follows:

Mandat exclusif: Exclusivity means that no other agent may sell on your behalf and nor may you sell direct during the period of exclusivity, which lasts a minimum of three, months and unless cancelled continues until the conclusion or expiration of the contract.

Mandat semi-exclusif: Semi-exclusivity means that no other agent may sell on your behalf during the period of semi-exclusivity but that you may find a buyer by your own direct means (word of mouth, or private advertising, for example) with the proviso that you then pass that client to the agency to take care of the sale. In this case the commission is halved. The period of semi-exclusivity is likewise a minimum of three months and unless cancelled continues until the conclusion or expiration of the contract. This type of mandat is only to be recommended for those able to put the time and budget into their own advertising. It also saves you becoming involved directly in the price negotiations with a buyer.

Mandat simple: The mandat simple is the non-exclusive type of mandat and means that any other agent may sell on your behalf, or that you may still find a buyer directly yourself and you are not obliged to have an estate agent deal with any of the formalities if you do so. In this case you have the opportunity to go with multiple agencies and your property will be seen by more potential buyers as a result.

However, a word of caution – do not make the mistake of instructing too many agencies. Agents charge different fees and as a result the property will appear at different prices, often on the same websites, which can give mixed messages to buyers. Two or three agents at the most should suffice.

If you want to cancel your mandat you will need to do so in writing by recorded delivery, and this is not normally possible during the first three months.

When choosing an agent to sell your property it is wise to check their website first of all, since over 90% of buyers make their initial viewing decisions online. A good website should be easy to navigate, have quality images, and perhaps floor plans or video. Believe it or not, some agents are slow to respond, even when the market is quiet. Your agent should offer good internet exposure via their own website, plus the use of quality international portals. You want to offer your property to buyers of all nationalities, not just the British or French.
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