Wednesday, 17 April 2019

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 The termite report goes out of date quickly.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.

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