What should you ask of estate agents?

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Deborah Morley

We recently bought a house in Cruzy through a local estate agent. (the house was advertised with 2 agents and unfortuanalty we seem to have choosen the wrong one).
we were bullied into a completion date and upon completion the estate agents promised to inform all necessary authorities ( EDF, water and taxes) about the change of ownership but this was not done, as soon as the estate agent got the cheque from the notaire we have had no corresspondence with them, they have ignored all our emails/phone calls for any help and assistance.
Personally i think estate agents should help with the change of ownership administration but beyond that i suppose as they only make their money by commission it would be unreasonable for any buyer to bombard them with constant questions and requests for assistance.
We have managed to sort the EDF and water bills but does anyone know whom we should inform of change of ownership for the 2 types of tax?
thanks in advance.


Deborah, The notaire will submit the Acte de Vente to the Bureau des Hypothèques, and the change of ownership will be noted. However, if the house is your second home, you will have to let the tax office know the address to which you wish bills to be sent - otherwise you could find they are sitting in your French letterbox incurring a lovely 10% fine for late payment!

As far as general help to buyers and sellers is concerned, I always offer a complementary translation service for all Compromis documentation, and I also attend the notaire free of charge to translate on 'the day'. thsi saves the buyer a fair amount of money! I help with opening bank accounts, arranging insurance cover, set up the utility accounts, and get the phone connected. But I have also done various things such as ordering wood and making doctor's appointments, and selling furniture. I don't charge for this, and it really does take up a lot of time. I fyour agent is not out selling, they aren't earning, so please be aware when you ask your agent for non-house related favours!

Sam Mooney

Ask for anything from your estate agent. Sometimes we can help and sometimes we can't. Time is an issue for me, I'm a one person show and so in addition to finding houses to sell and showing them to potential buyers I do all the admin and maintain a website - and try to have a life.

One thing that's made it easier was spending the time to track down local service providers who are or speak English. I now have a contact list of an insurance agent, a banker, a currency broker, a mortgage broker, and someone who helps people with things like EDF.

I also give my clients a written overview of the process of buying in France so they know what to expect and when it will happen.

And of course I go with clients to the Notaire to sign the compromis and the acte.

Craig McGinty

Hi all, many thanks for these tips and advice from the coal face, I'm sure people will find it very useful.
All the best, Craig

Paul Berry

My feelings towards estate agents in France are not very printable. If an agent attempts to charge 25% commission I feel that one is entitled to ask for the moon.
Fortunately I did not complete the deal but other brits have done so under the same terms. I was under the impression that the reasonable charge for the purchase of a piece of land would be about 10% but felt that the 25% figure was too high.
Whilst the land may have been worth the total price asked I feel that because the agent did not intend to pass an appropriate percentage of the figure to the seller of the land it is they who are being short changed. The downside is that the Brits are being blamed for all the inflation in property prices when an unscrupulous agent is lining his own pocket and not passing a true amount to the French vendor.

Wendy Dunwell

I work 2 days a week for a Dutch Agency here in the Correze, All agents are obliged by law to publish their % commission charges by law, we do and they range from 5% for a 500,000 euro property up to 10% for a 20,000 Euro piece of land.

Also all our properties are advertised with the commission fee included (no hidden extra's)

25% is incredible!

however perhaps it's best to ask what sort of fees are being charged before falling in love with your dream property?

Please Paul Berry do not place us all under that assumption of greedy agressive salespeople, it's simply not true.

The reason I work for this agency is because I bought my house through them and they were fantastic, I was accompanied to the notaire, the electricity, water and Insurance companies on the day of completion.

Reputation is everything here, please bear in mind that most Agents are situated somewhere close to the property you will buy and you may well be bumping into them from time to time.........

Craig McGinty

Yet more useful advice, thanks once again, all the best Craig.

Nick brooker

I've just returned from the Loire and Sarthe valley regions where I'm looking for a home.

I have to say that most of the agents were extremely unhelpful and only briefly responded when asked specific questions. At one viewing I was even allowed to wander around to look at everything myself, while the agent chatted with the owner.

Having said that, one agency has been extremely helpful and although they have no 'English Speaking Agent' on their staff, made every effort to communicate information in English. They also voluntarily explained all of the fees, transfer taxes, regional and local taxes for all of the properties I viewed. On my behalf, the owner was automatically asked about the regional and local taxes payable, average heating and electricity bills, most recent works carried out and costs, etc.

With the amount of money being invested, it is clearly necessary to establish a good relationship with at least one salesperson in at least one agency to get a clear understanding of the process and the responsibilities of the different people involved in the transaction.

Bitching about agents and responding to such criticisms is all a bit pointless really. All transactions of this kind should be entered into on the premise of 'caveat emptor'.

Kevin Donovan


The agent via whom we bought our house was completely helpful and supportive in every way. This was the case throughout the purchase process, and subsequently when he helped us to organise electricity and water connections, and sat with us though a telephone call to (also helpful) France-Telecom as we organised our phone line and broadband.

Peter Elias

I am an agent working in the Poitou Charentes and am staggered at a 25% fee. The norms are more like 5 or 6% rising to a max of 10% for a ruin or a plot of land.

Some agents are more user friendly than others, we will always accompany clients to the Notaire, and make the routine changes to utility bills etc.

Agency fees, like Notary fees are set out on a scale, and the higher the value the transaction, the less in % terms the fees. This is normal in life and does not differ very much in France to the UK in principle, except that the level of fees is higher all over Continental Europe than in the UK.

Ask what level of service the agents offers from the outset - and if they don't respond appropriately, vote with your feet !

Peter Elias

Helen Coles

I work with an agency in the Gers & into the Pyrenees Atlantic.
Our fees are clearly stated, the total commission of which I receive a part only exceeds 6% in exceptional cases.
Clients both vendors and purchasers are given as much help as they need. Don't forget just how stressful selling a property can be!
I offer clients a three month complimentary package to help them re-locate successfully. Everything from visiting the notaire's office; inscribing children in school; all utilities etc. It really makes my work worthwhile.
Don't ever be bullied into buying a property and if you have doubts about the agent or their representative my advice would be to walk away.
In my opinion 25% is sheer greed.

Paul Berry

I am pleased to see that a number of people agree that I did the right thing to walk away from a deal with 25% commision. Whilst I accept that most prices are quoted with fees included it is not until you get deeper into the paperwork that you are given the breakdown of what amount is for what. The answer is as stated ASK FIRST and be prepared to walk. Other people who are being duped by this agent are possibly not checking the figures carefully. As I said before it is the seller who is not receiving the fair value and the buyer is getting the blame for the greed of the middle man. All my comments relate to one agent in Mirambeau and I would say BE CAREFUL!. I apreciate that all agents can not be tarred with the same brush

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