Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Don’t listen to the neighbours

We frequently find that our clients seek our advice before putting their property on the market, which is reassuring, of course. But then imagine our frustration when they then proceed to go ahead based on the opinion of a “well intentioned” friend or neighbour.

There are some classic examples – here are just a few:

Diagnostic reports

We advise all of our vendors to get all reports done before they go onto the market. This includes the fosse / drainage report and the famous termite report. By law, you are only required to have the DPE (Energy) report to place the property on the market.

Friends often advise to just get the DPE report done at this stage. The others can wait. The termite report goes out of date quickly.

The reality is that without knowing the outcomes of your diagnostic reports it is near impossible to provide an accurate market valuation. What if the fosse doesn’t not conform or there are major electrical anomalies…

Going down this route invites what we call “double negotiation”. In other words the buyer negotiates on your asking price, and then comes back to haggle further once they discover the problems, (whether they are large or small).

Even if you are lucky and have “clean” reports, having to request these reports after you have found a buyer inevitably causes a delay. Sometimes of up to 2 weeks – most notably for drainage reports. This means that you cannot sign a contract (CDV), and effectively you are giving your buyer longer and longer to reflect and perhaps change their mind. Many sellers find the 10 day cooling off period bad enough, so why add to it.

Oh, by the way, most diagnostic companies will offer a free updated termite report. Many also offer a discount for getting the entire package done at the same time, so a discount price for getting it done at the outset.

N° of agents

In the UK most people selling use a sole agent. France has traditionally been different, and has been multiple agency.

Friends tell you you have more chance if you use a bigger agency or several agents. They cite that the bigger agent gives you more publicity, so you have to be on their books. Because it doesn’t cost you anything you can go with 2,3 or even more agents, and increase your chances of selling.

Wrong on both counts! Sole or Exclusive agents have a proven track record of selling more quickly and getting the asking price for your property. Listing with several agents means that you end up on the same portals at different prices (due to the variances with agent’s fees), making you look desperate for a sale. Rather than increasing your chance, you are actually decreasing them. On an exclusive mandat basis, will can control the marketing process, provide extra advertising if required, and manage your viewings professionally.

Oh, and as for going with the biggest agents, just do the maths. They have over 15,000 properties on their books. In a whole page advert they promote 12 properties, so you have a 0.08% chance of being on that page, (actually less as these figures are rounded up).

Your house in unique - keep it that way with the advertising. Exclusive clients like to buy an exclusive property!


We are very experienced in the geographical areas in which we operate. We know how much a property has sold for, we have access to industry data and trends. So we can give you an accurate estimation for the value of your house.

Your own brain and your friend tells you that you can always reduce your price, but not increase. You also think well it cost me A and we have spent B, so we will ask A + B plus a bit. That might work in a rising market or in the UK, but this is France!

Modern properties generally have a rate per square metre habitable for your area. Older properties will also have that, but in addition will vary enormously depending upon the character features, or quality of renovations undertaken, and indeed potential cost of repair / maintenance.

Starting at the correct market price is key. The first 3 months are critical for you to achieve the best price. There is an old saying in the property business that “time is not your friend”. What this means is the longer that you are on the market, the lower your eventual price will be.

We know of many vendors who have ignored our advice about pricing, and have gone down the wildly optimistic route, but remain for sale 5 or more years later!

Strangely, you will find that these people also ignored our advice about sole agency and diagnostic reports.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Latest client testimonial

Once we had made the decision to sell our house in France it was important to find an agent who would present the property in a professional manner. After doing the rounds of a few agents we came across Allez-Francais and liked what we saw on their website and invited Richard Morford over.

From the outset we were impressed and liked Richard’s approach and within no time at all photos were taken, description written and floor plan drawn. The floor plan was an important inclusion so often not included by other French estate agents. Presentation is everything and the photos went a long way in doing this. Richard spent a great deal of time on the photography and the subsequent selection of best shots to use. Those taken using the drone were really impressive. Our house was on the website in no time at all and was being presented in the best possible way.

Some will say it takes years to sell a French house and yes this is true, in many instances it can. But there are many factors that sell a house, none more important than the house itself and the asking price. We set a realistic price and within weeks we had a viewing and had accepted an offer for the full asking price. But you also need an agency that doesn’t just list your house, you need one that takes an interest in it and you as the owners. We can say that our choice in Allez-Francais met every criteria we set and we could not have been happier with the outcome. Thank you Richard and Nikki for all your efforts and assistance.

We would not hesitate in recommending Allez-Francais.

Sheila & Alan Brown

1st April - April Fool / Poisson d'avril ..........

We are still here, uncertain about Brexit even though the 29th March was set in stone ages ago. It is fair to say that Europeans are watching this farce played out with increasing weariness. So moving on, no doubt we will return to the subject in the weeks / months ahead.

As a small company, we are very aware that there is a wide choice for our customers out there, and we genuinely appreciate your custom. Our enthusiasm and professionalism sets us apart from the larger companies out there, and we regularly have wonderful testimonials, some of which are highlighted at the foot of this newsletter.

So why do clients choose Allez-Français? First of all, I think that smaller is better. We are closer to the action, we know our properties, our areas and you do not end up dealing with Head Office to arrange viewings etc you deal with us directly. Our focus has always been on providing rapid responses to telephone calls and e-mails, usually within hours or even minutes, rather than longer delays. We cover a large part of S W France, and 3 geographical areas in some detail, all of which are popular with UK & International buyers in particular.

Larger agencies may seem to be an easy "one stop shop", but prove to be anything but that from feedback that we receive. Viewings of 5 or 6 properties in an area such as the Poitou Charentes can result in accompanied visits with 3 or 4 (or more) agents, who vary enormously in talent and experience. Our team is made up of experienced agents who have been with the Allez-Français team for at least 5 years. They are successful because they are enthusiastic and professional. They will guide you as necessary in accordance with your requirements and demands. Often, we are able to propose a property that you may previously have overlooked, based upon the feedback that you give us during your visits. Often, our sales are in conjunction with those clients who have chosen to spend at least a 1/2 day viewing with us, allowing this flexibility.

Don't forget, we can introduce you to a range of complimentary services, primarily Currency Exchange and Mortgage Services. During Q1 of 2019 alone we have seen the £ to € fluctuate between 1.10 and near to 1.18 - that is a 7.25% difference if you got your timing right or wrong, which is what some of our clients have done by having a frequent dialogue with Tom and his team at Foremost. A reminder also, that all of our contracts (CDV) are drafted and signed with a Notaire (not the agency) and similarly, all deposits are paid to the Notaire (not the agency).

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