Thursday, September 23, 2010

French estate agents - the tricks of the trade

I'm just back from a trip to the UK where I met up with the team from FrenchEntrée and my colleague Rebecca Russell from Cote Abode who had flown in from Nice.

After a full on day of brainstorming and plotting our marketing strategy for 2011 we hit the pub and, over a chilled glass of wine, started telling war stories of the tricks that some local immobiliers get up to.

Rebecca kicked off with with the tale of a local agent on the Riviera who had added 10% to all of the room sizes in an apartment. This would be bad enough in the charente where prices are low but it's a dastardly trick in Nice.  Fortunately Rebecca is eagle eyed, diligent and a terrier when it comes to negotiating on behalf of her clients.

I then pitched in with a story I have previously posted - the one where an immobilier in Cognac put a picture of the next door house on his website and in his shop window because "it was prettier".

Guy had a similar tale.  He had been looking to buy in Aubeterre and had enquired about a particularly pretty house, only to be told it had just been sold. 

He bought something else but when he was next over he saw the same house in the agents window.  A few discrete enquiries with his neighbours revealed that it actually belonged to the cousin of the owner of the agency.  It's used to get people through the door where they can be shown other "legitimate" houses.

Gaelle, who is from Dijon, laughed out loud at this and said it's so common that the French even have a name for this:

"Le produit d'appel".

It made me chuckle too.... but I suspect that if you have spent time and money coming over to specifically view one of these non existent properties then you wouldn't be joining in quite so heartily. 


John said...

This is so true !! ... and an excellent reason for using the services of someone such as Graham Downie and his team. Reputable French Estate Agents ( of which I would like to think I am one !) are more than happy to work with Property Search Agents such as Graham, and together find the client the perfect little "Gem" - properly described ... actually available to purchase ..and at the best price !! In fact Graham and I are due to meet up again soon to discuss just such a client cooperation ( I havnt forgotten Graham ... get the coffee on !!)

Alison Morton said...

Interesting object lesson from my FrenchEntree colleagues - thank you!

And I thought all estate agents, were friendly, cuddly creatures, with shiny bright eyes and hearts of gold...

Seriously, I think most are - one of my best friends is one and she's lovely. But she's a sharp businesswoman all the same.

But these stories illustrate perfectly why using a property finder is so logical - saves heartache as well as money.

graham downie said...

Hi John - coffee always warm & strong for you. And yes, you are one of the good guys for sure.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes i could not agree more these estate agents are so dishonest, you really should not be dealing with them alone especially without a property finder, after all that reglementation and loi hoguet/insurance means absolutely nothing at all they are all out to get you how funny ha ha .
Really come on guys you cannot be serious we are not all like that

graham downie said...

Hi anonymous - welcome and thanks for joining in.

If you read back through the blog you'll see plenty of entries where I praise and recommend good local agents. Many of them have become friends and are the reason that I enjoy my work here so much.

Go to the April entry "Looking for an immobilier in Ruffec?" as an example.

If you're in the game yourself I'm sure you too have a few stories to it about fellow agents, vendors, buyers or notaires.

Feel free to share & keep reading....


Anonymous said...

Thank you Graham for clarifying that one By the way should have that game of golf sometime soon. we have been very busy indeed lately having sold 52 houses in August which should give you an idea of the level of recovery,
5 sales yesterday alone if it carries on like this we may see price increases again in the early part of next year inn the low end of the market at first, as you know the supply of good cheap property can dry up quickly in a small county like this, This has already happened in the Alps as it did a few years ago here. we hope this does not happen as higher pricing do not make it easier to sell houses.

graham downie said...

Am hitting the ball like a dream T so you might want to put the golf off for a while.

I had heard that you were busy and it's good to get it confirmed. Transaction numbers are all important to our businesses.

Let's hope things continue in this vein :-)