House Hunting Trip to France
Looking for properties for sale in France
This article talks about house hunting in Languedoc because that’s the area we work in however it applies to any region of France.
You’ve done your research, and you’ve visited and found the area that’s right for you. You’ve spent time researching property on the internet. From your research and your exploring you’ve established a wish list and a budget. It’s time to come to Languedoc, visit houses, find the house you want, and buy it.
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? This can actually be where things get frustrating. And this is where we can help.
Pick dates for your visit.
If possible make sure there isn’t a bank holiday while you’re here. The French take bank holidays and weekends seriously. You may be able to make appointments to view properties for sale on a Saturday but you’ll be hard pressed to find an immobilier (or owner) who will show you houses in Languedoc on a Sunday or holiday.
Plan to stay for at least two weeks if you can. This will give you time to see houses and to make a second visit to any that you like. Also time to make an offer and have it accepted.
If you’ve decided to look at properties near Carcassonne don’t stay near Béziers, you’ll spend a lot of time driving back and forth. If you’ve decided to look in two areas stay somewhere in between.
Make appointments to view properties.
In this area people list their houses with more than one immobilier, sometimes with as many as 7. Don’t assume that the you’ll see a wider range of houses by making appointments with a lot of real estate agents. You won’t.
Pick one or two immobiliers.
You’ll have an idea from your research which agencies seem to have the kind of properties that you’re looking for. By now you are probably in contact with an agent by email or on the phone and have a list of potential houses to visit. Make appointments for the visits.
I read a lot about buying property in France that says always meet the agent at their office. My personal experience was that I had been emailing back and forth with an agent, picked houses I wanted to see and made an appointment to meet him – I thought to look at houses. Instead he handed me off to someone else who sat me down to go through the book. The agent was charming but she had absolutely no idea what I was looking for and was just using price as a guide. I showed her the listings of the three houses I wanted to see and she said they were all sold.
Finally we decided on three houses that I wanted to see. She could only show me two because she couldn’t get in touch with the third owner and she would only be able to show them to me in the afternoon. I hung around for three hours and we set off.
First house was ok but didn’t sing to me. Second house? Don’t know. We couldn’t get inside because the owner had forgotten to leave the key in the hiding place.
Frustrated? You bet.
This isn’t necessarily typical but if you go to an appointment expecting to immediately go visit a house and instead are parked in front of a book of listings you have to realize that the agent really hasn’t paid any attention to what you want. It’s ok to leave at that point.
If you feel that you’re being pressured to look at houses that you don’t like, leave. Once you sign a bon de visite the agent should tell you where the house is. If they won’t, leave. This is a major step in your life, you need to feel comfortable with the person that you’re dealing with. If you aren’t then find another agent.
Looks can be deceiving
Keep in mind that you really can’t tell anything about a house in Languedoc until you’ve seen the inside. If you hate the area, fine, but don’t dismiss a house just because it looks a little sad from the outside.
Make the offer
When you find a house that you like and are ready to think about making an offer, sleep on it. Arrange to go back the next day and look at it again. If the house needs work you might want to arrange for a builder to visit with you to give you an idea of the costs involved. You’ll know that it’s the right house if you want to make an offer and cancel any other viewings you’ve arranged. If you want to make an offer and keep looking at other houses ‘just in case’ then it isn’t the house for you. Don’t make an offer.
Signing the Compromis de Vente
Before the Compromis de Vente can be signed the various inspection (expertises) have to be done. The may not be finished in time for you to sign the Compromis in person but you will have time to meet the Notiare.
The Notaire will explain the procedure for buying French property. They will also explain the various ownership options and the advantages and disadvantages of each. You can do this from home by fax but you’ll have a better understanding of the process if you do it in person.