Driven by property shows on the small screen, demanding French property buyers are turning to the profession because they know hiring a property hunter will not only save them time and money but also the frustration of yet another wasted viewing trip. The key is to work with one with a bulging little black book overflowing with contacts in the area you intend to buy.
A property hunter is only ever as good as the brief you give him. You have to have done your homework before taking one on.
Still unknown a few years back, the profession of property hunter started in the United States. Now, they are proving indispensable in France too. The French real estate market does not have an MLS. That means that one property can appear on several different agent’s websites, often at different prices. For a demanding buyer looking for a second home or even a permanent residence this can be a challenge. Your head starts to swim. The frustation mounts. Hours of valuable time can be wasted viewing properties that are unsuitable but which looked ideal when you saw the pictures on the internet.
A property hunter is dedicated to finding you the right property in the right place at the right price. His job is not to find a buyer for a property but to find a property for you, the buyer. He or she will have no loyalty to one agent over another. He will know value for money when he sees it and help you pitch your offer accordingly.
The challenge in the French property market at the moment is not to find a property that you like. It is to find one that you like with a vendor who is flexible and willing to negotiate a realistic selling price.
Armed with that all important list of search criteria, you have agreed together, your property hunter will have a good idea of where he can find your ideal piece of real estate. There is just one important demand he will make of you. You will be asked you to sign an ‘exclusive search mandate’ committing you to work with him, for at least 3 months. The agreement will set out his terms of business and what you are expected to pay for his services. Understand, the best property hunters work on a no win no fee basis so if you do not buy a property through him, his services will cost you nothing.
Fees vary according to the final selling price of the property concerned and range between 2.75% for a property bought for €300,000 or less to 1.5% for a property sold at between €1.5m and €2.5m. If your budget is more than this, no doubt a lower fee could be negotiated. You may wish to set a fixed fee to ensure that your property hunter has no interest in the price that you finally pay for your dream home. That’s possible too. Note that the best chasseur immobilier require that your budget is a minimum of €350,000.
Note that your property hunter will not share any part of the vendor agency’s commission. He or she will remain independent and fully on your side. Part of the negotiation process, will include ensuring that the vendor agency reduces its fee so in the end, hiring a professional property hunter should, in most cases, not cost you any more than if you had done all his work yourself.
Living in the region, your property hunter will know who to deal with and who to avoid. His personal network will include independent professionals, agencies, individuals, developers, and small property management companies. He will have viewed a lot of property over the years so will know the best places to look for the style of property you wish to buy. Each region has its own individual style.
He will pre-visit likely properties and report back to you on each one. You can then draw up a short list of properties you feel are worth viewing in person. Your property hunter will then schedule all those visits and even meet you at the airport and recommend hotels, if you wish.
Finally, he will help you negotiate the price with the seller. He will know what is a fair price in today’s market. This will probably mean a nice discount. His mission does not end once you have the keys in your hand. He will be there to answer questions and make recommendations after you have taken possession. For instance, if a property requires renovation or bringing up to date, your property hunter will help you source the businesses, craftsmen and decorators needed.
Discretion on both sides is important. Many vendors of prestige property are not keen to market their houses openly. They want to be sure that potential buyers have what it takes to complete the purchase before they will agree to a visit. Your property hunter will help facilitate this process but you will probably have to provide a proof of funds also.
Your property hunter will do all the initial research. Pre-visit likely properties. Sort the wheat from the chaff. And make recommendation.
You will pay the right price for the property in today’s market. The majority of asking prices have come down over they years since 2008 but there are still owners around with unrealistic expectations. No matter how beautiful the property, these are not worth viewing.
Buying in an unfamiliar market, has its pitfalls. Finding your way round is not easy. Then there is the language barrier too. Having someone on your side who can guide you through the buying process will help you avoid making mistakes.
Another major advantage is having someone who knows his way round locally. Someone who can make introductions. Someone who is there to answer those niggling little questions that come up. Not to mention, working with you to ensure that your renovation project goes to plan.
A property finder is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Good ones are difficult to hire. They are very much in demand.
Remember that a property hunter in France must have a ‘carte professionnelle’ by law in the same way that an immobiler or realtor must. But the comparison stops there. The property hunter is a service provider dedicated to you, the buyer. A good one will do a lot of groundwork before even getting in his car. Research online is crucial. To find out more about working with a property hunter in the south west contact us now.
Rory Ramsden is a French property finder and buyer's agent working for high net worth private clients wishing to buy a chateau, manor or vineyard in the south west of France. He has lived in France for 8 years after spending time travelling the world on business.
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