Buying a Property in Brittany, France

Graham Dooley has written numerous articles for the press about living in Brittany and specifically about buying property in Brittany. We thought that you would find them useful and have included the articles on this site. The links are below:

Article:  To Buy or not to Buy – that is the question – but from whom?

By Graham Dooley – BRETON HOMES S.A.R.L.
Agence Immobilière, Brittany.

I have been in Brittany, France for 13 years and in that time I have seen the property market change several times. There are literally hundreds of property agents in one form or another advertising their wares predominantly on the web and also in the many other journals and property exhibitions available around the globe today.

We have clients from all over the world and have sold to citizens from as far a field as Hong Kong, the USA and Australia.

So when you see an advert for you dream home who are you buying from? The French property market and “Agence Immobilière” remained a mystery for many years to the general public and during the 80,s contact was made via an intermediate usually in the country where the prospective purchaser resides. Then followed a letter of introduction or fax and of you went in search of your property.

With the advent of the web it is now possible to view a vast array of French properties all over the web and go direct to the agency. You probably will not save a great deal of money as the agency normally pays the commission to the introductory agent however in this case the agency will not normally negotiate on the agency fee if they are paying out large commissions.

The problem is that over the past few years agents offering to sell you a French house have appeared on every street corner and often hundreds of tempting properties are shown on the web. You see them, make a reservation and find that when you arrive to visit the property of your dreams was sold long ago.

You have to get real in the French Property Market and go and see for yourself. An idyllic stone cottage with potted geraniums, shady terrace and within walking distance of your croissant and baguette will rarely have time to be loaded on the web page before it is sold.

So who do you buy from?
This is a professional estate agency and has to have a Carte Professionnelle issued by the Prefecture. In order to obtain the CP the owner, principal or Gerant of the agency must have professional qualifications! It is possible to mix and match for example several years experience in an estate agency or other administrative position (normally 10) can be combined with qualifications however the formal qualifications that are necessary have to be obtained by a diploma or professional experience or both.

For members of the European Union, in general, one has to have proof of a three year university education with a degree and two years of experience. The professional title can also be obtained two years after the baccalaureate with a diploma in law, economics and commerce.
In order to meet certain ethical criteria. The following people can not become French estate agents:

• People who have imprisoned by the French court.
• People who are undischarged bankrupts.
• Public officials who have been dismissed, or others that have been dismissed by their professional association.
• People who have been convicted guilty by a foreign court under the same conditions as above.

They sell, negotiate and usually work under the umbrella of an Agence Immobilière or Notaire. They can have an office but cannot display properties in the window as they are not estate agents.

The Notaire is principally a government tax collector not just estate agent. Buying directly through a Notaire will not necessarily save you money as he/she will put their own negotiation fees on the sale. If you buy through an Agence Immobilière, if they have a mandate or authorization to sell the property the Notaire should not normally put negociation fees on top. This is for the agency. If however you engage the agency to search for a property on your behalf i.e.” Mandat de Recherche” then it is quite possible your final fees will include some negotiation fees.
Always ensure they send you to an Agence Immobilière or commercial agent. Always ask whether or not their fees are included in the Agency Fees or on top. The long established reputable agencies provide a good service to connect you with the network of professionals in France and will never ask you for their commission directly.
This is ok but remember you will have to do all of the paperwork and ask the right questions. Do not forget to ask the private buyer to provide you with a valuation from a notaire or agent. I have known some cases where a property has been advertised privately for almost twice the market value.

If you wish to go down this route then good luck. When you meet the guy or girl outside the bar always ask for identification and if they have a commercial agents card. Never pay cash up front or at all and always pay the deposit and balance to the notaire.

At the end of the day good luck and from BRETON HOMES we hope you find your dream however and wherever your search takes you.