General information on beginning the search / Where would you like to buy real estate?
House or apartment?
New building or old building?
What does the price of the object depend upon?
Who is your negotiating partner for acquisition?
The current market situation on the Cote d’Azur
Acquisition of an old building / Viewings / Appraisals
Preliminary Contract ( „avant contrat“)
Role of the notary / „acte authentique“
Additional expenses for the purchase („frais de notaire“ or „frais d’acte“)
Purchase of a new building
Purchase of land
Foundation of a S.C.I. („société civile immobilière“)
Purchase on the basis of pension („viager“) as a special form of property acquisition of real estate
Taxation of the gain („plus value“) from sale
Right of succession
Conducting a sale / Preparations for the sale
Landing stage for your boat: Buy or rent?

As we belong to the Guild of Estate Agents, it probably won’t surprise you if I plead in favour of entrusting the sale of your property to a colleague (or perhaps our partners in the South of France). There are many reasons for this, a few of which are named here:

- Using their knowledge of the market, estate agents offer you a correct estimate of the value of your property. Apart from this ebook and occasional publications on this subject in the regional or national French press, you will not find a correct insight into prices/market tendencies anywhere, other than by good estate agents. Reading property advertisements in the press or in Internet is certainly useful, but it only offers you insight into the price “demanded” by the other sellers and not the price actually paid.

- Agents guarantee you that your sale will be processed correctly, if applicable. In this connection, we wish to point out that the profession of an estate agent (“agent immobilier“) is very strictly regulated in France. Conditions for access to this profession are legally stipulated and of a very high quality, even exceeding those in Germany. If a potential estate agent has the prerequisites necessary to obtain a license, the authorities certify this by issuing a “carte professionnelle“. Proof of a financial guarantee issued by a bank is also a prerequisite for this certificate.

- Cooperation with an estate agent is especially advisable if the seller is not familiar with the legal practices. Once again we point out in this connection, that this ebook’s digression into legal matters is not intended to replace the knowledge of an agent/notary/legal expert, but pure and simply serves to provide an insight into the basic principles. The aim is to enable the seller to follow the elements of the sales process at all times and thus to remain in control of the process.

- Agents know how a property should be presented in order to have success with selling.

- Working with an agent saves you a great deal of time, or in some cases, makes the sale possible at all - due to temporary absence, which may possibly come about (in our experience, a buyer who adapts his planning to suit a seller is extremely rare).

Certainly, all this is not without costs: The agent receives commission if he is successful. The amount of this commission is laid down in writing in the mandate that he receives from the seller of the buyer. The agent can be engaged by either the seller for the sale of his property or by the buyer for looking for a suitable property. Both mandates must be in writing and must satisfy particular formal requirements.

Another point regarding the agent’s commission: The amount of the commission is not regulated. However, the tariffs charged by the agents for his efforts must be openly displayed in his office for all to see. The commission is usually included in the purchase price indicated to the buyer. In southern France it normally amounts to 4% to 6% excluding French value added tax (currently 19.6%). The estate agent only receives his commission if he can show a mandate from the seller or buyer and if the conclusion was accomplished with his collaboration.

Choosing an estate agent: When choosing an agent, you should be aware that the state, having such strict requirements regarding standards, guarantees a certain minimum quality. Additionally, we recommend checking if the estate agent is a member of a standard organisation e.g. the FNAIM (Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier, Normally this ensures that the estate agent continually educates himself further, is provided with the latest judicial and other information and so on.

Another recommendation: It is certainly also useful if you can talk to your partner in your mother tongue, and if he can also offer you a German speaking contact for the other parties in involved in the transaction. For example, you will realise how important a notary is, who can explain the contract and the legal situation in German, at the latest when you do not have these services at your disposal.

To conclude the topic “estate agent”, one more remark regarding a question, which is, in our opinion, very important – “should I give my estate agent a sole mandate or should I commission several agents with the sale of my apartment/house”?

The answer that springs to mind is that if you have 3 agents, the chance is 3 times greater than with only 1 agent with a sole mandate (motto “more hands make light work”). This is, in our opinion, false. Why is this? :

Agents have a ranking order for their efforts to advertise a property from your portfolio. For instance, suppose an agent has an advertising budget allowing him to place a full-page advertisement in one of the large property newspapers on the Côte d’Azur (e.g. “Résidence“ or “Properties“), costing him several thousand Euros. How do you imagine he will decide which of his objects to advertise?

Right: Most certainly the object for which he has a sole mandate. And for several reasons:

a) He can rest assured that none of his colleagues sells the object while the advertisement is running (if this is within the period agreed in the mandate). This is established in his sole mandate.

b) His colleagues see the advertisement and will make contact with the agency having the sole mandate, if they have a customer for whom the object may be suitable. A joint deal may then come about.

Thus, you can fundamentally assume that an agency will make more advertising effort / invest more in marketing for a sole mandate than for a simple mandate. This is not surprising.

And so it will certainly be in your own interests to appoint your agent with a sole mandate to look after your affairs.

One more tip: If you should decide to give an agency a sole mandate, you should not be afraid to determine, together with the agency, which advertising efforts the agency is to undertake, in return for the sole mandate. If appropriate this can be laid down in writing.

A further, not altogether unimportant argument in favour of a sole mandate is the circumstance that in this case, only one agency has access to your property and not several. This allows you to retain good control of what is happening in and with your property while you are not there.