If you’re looking for houses in France, it pays to be prepared. Follow our handy bullet-point guide to making the most of your viewing trip.
* Make sure you have appointments booked with agents – don’t expect to just walk in and see someone. French estate agents are very busy these days with English clients.
* Speak to the agent before you cross the Channel. You’ll feel more comfortable on the day and it helps to know that they speak English if your French isn’t up to speed.
* Ensure that the houses are still on the market – you don’t want to make this trip and find you can’t view the houses you’re interested in.
* Allow at least one full day to view houses so that you can spend enough time in each to get a decent impression – houses in France may be quite some distance from one another.
* Try to arrive in France the day before viewing rather than on the day itself. Viewing is very tiring and you’ll need all the energy you can get. If you have time, it’s good to take several days for your trip, so that you can travel on the first day, see the area on the second, view houses on the third, and then leave yourself a final day to take a second look at something you’re interested in, or get started on the paperwork.
* Go ready to buy the house (arrange finance in advance if you can). If you delay, someone else might snap up the house from under your nose.
* Take refreshments. You may not be able to stop for food and many French restaurants are open only at lunchtimes and evenings, especially in rural areas.
* Wear sensible clothing: you may be crawling through derelict or dusty properties or stomping over muddy fields. Wellington boots are very useful. If, however, you are visiting elegant properties such as chateaux, dress appropriately – business dress is usual.
* Meet the French agent in his office so that you can see his set-up. Don’t just arrange to meet up in a car park.
* Inform the agent in advance if you are taking children with you so that he can tailor the day accordingly (he may, for instance, want to build in more breaks).
* Try to take with you only the people actually involved in the purchase. It’s not useful to have endless second opinions from friends and relations.
* You may be asked to sign some paperwork before going out to see houses (a bon pour visite or a mandat de recherche). Neither of these documents commits you to buying anything, they are simply there to prove which agent has shown you which properties (and thus protect their commission, since each property might be with several agents).
* Be honest with your agent. Tell them what you like, what you don’t, and why. This gives them a better chance to show you the right houses.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or don’t have time to search yourself, FrenchEntrée has a dedicated Property Team to assist you in finding your dream property. Let us know what you are looking for and we will do our best to select properties matching your requirements.