- Get the right price
We explore the best ways to get the right price for your French property here, but it cannot be highlighted enough just how important this is, particularly in light of the recent economic crisis. If the property is overpriced it will not sell, but if the property is under-priced you could short-change yourself. Prospective buyers will have access to all the information about your property and the comparable properties on the market at their fingertips, so will instantly be able to write your property off if the asking price isn’t suitable. Particularly since the global recession, buyers are savvier and more cautious about investing in a property that isn’t worth what they paid for it.
- Prepare an information pack for your agent
Before you start this process, put together all the information you can get your hands on for you agent. This will make it easier for them to educate themselves on your property, and be in the position to quickly answer questions by prospective buyers – all of which will help your property to sell. This includes photos of your property at its best (in the summer, for example) and all documentation, including a copy of the deeds and the cadastral map, floor plans if you have them, the yearly cost of property taxes and utilities, and any invoices for work that has been carried out. It may also be a good idea to note down the nearest amenities, such as shops, schools, transport links and anything else that might encourage a buyer to purchase your house.
- Presentation is key
An immaculate property, both for marketing pictures and for each viewing, will give you a big head-start in attracting a buyer. It may be a pain to constantly ensure you house is tidy at all times but it will definitely help in the selling process. Begin this as soon as you have decided you wish to sell your home – de-clutter all areas and fix all those DIY issues that you have been meaning to look at but never got round to! You could even start to pack up your non-essential items. Spending a little time and money on painting walls and investing in tools could well add €1000s to your selling price. However, don’t presume that new central heating or double glazing will add to the price – buyers may well expect that these things will be up to date. If you have any issues that you can’t fix, don’t cover them up; make sure you are open about everything.
When you have a viewing you will be given advance warning, so you can ensue the washing up is done and all surfaces are clean and tidy. Most buyers will know if they want a property within five minutes of walking through the front door. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bathroom – these should be immaculate. Emphasise your home’s best features Your entire house should be accessible so that all viewers can get an accurate feel of the property, but it is usually a good idea to lock any pets away and make sure that your family members busy themselves in just one room of the house – or even better leave the house, if you can! If you are there, you can answer any questions prospective buyers have, but leave as much as you can to the agent – you don’t want to accidentally put someone off!
- Be actively involved in the marketing of your property
The photos of your house are the first thing that will attract a buyer to your house; so they need to appeal to house hunters wherever they see them - whether this be online or in in print. Check out the websites of your prospective agencies to see if they appeal to you.
Once you have chosen an agency/agencies and the marketing plans are in place, double check all materials yourself to make sure the description of your property is accurate in French and in English. Good photos and a description will make sure your property stands out from the competition.
- Prepare all documentation and reports early
Surveys like you would get in the UK are not the norm in France, although they can be arranged. There are, however, a list of reports and documents that you are legally obliged to have – including asbestos, lead and termites assessments, electrical compliance reports and the energy efficiency rating of the house. It is now a legal requirement for the latter to be included in any advertising – the others can be done once you have a buyer, but we would recommend ensuring these are in place before the property is on the market. In an ideal world this means that the agent could show the prospective buyer that the property meets all standards, but these can also be used to give you an idea of what areas may be a point of negotiation. Your agent will usually be able to recommend you an agency that can carry out all these reports together, and you need to make sure you are aware how long the reports are valid for and what steps need to be taken to get a renewal should you need one.
- Be ready for viewings at a moment’s notice
Some potential viewers may be coming from abroad (like you probably did!) and so will be in a tight schedule for viewing properties. If yours is not available for them to view when they want to, they will probably not consider it further. Make sure you leave a key with your estate agent so they can do viewings whenever necessary.
- Think about your exchange rate
The exchange rate could change dramatically between the day you accept an offer on your property and the day you complete, losing you £000s when you have converted your euros. Before you begin the process, speak to a currency transfer specialist such as Smart Currency Exchange. They will be able to advise you on the best options for you, offer you a better exchange rate than your bank and enable to your ‘fix’ your rate for up to a year – ‘fixing’ the price of your property in sterling as well as euros. Smart Currency Exchange are the UK’s only currency exchange specialist focussed specifically on the overseas property market, meaning they can offer you expert advice as well as their bank-busting exchange rates.
- Be absolutely sure that you want to sell!
Once you have signed the compromis de vente, the contract is legally binding for the seller and unlike the purchaser, you will not have a cooling off period of seven days.