As a property finder, I spend a good deal of time contacting estate agents in search of the perfect property for my clients. I’m lucky that in my part of the Deux-Sèvres and Vendée, they are really helpful and let me know when something new comes on to the market.
Today, however, my lead comes from a different source. I’m just leaving the boulangerie, the scent of my still-warm warm loaf reminding me it’s almost lunch time, when I bump into Michel, a local carpenter who’s done quite a bit of work for me and my clients.
We chat about his family, the progress of his latest pig – which if he is to be believed, is going to be the fattest in all of Deux Sèvres – and then move on to local news. It seems that his wife’s brother has finally decided to put his grandmother’s house on the market. He’s unsure of the asking price, but confirms that it is a traditional stone house with several outbuildings 2km from one of my favourite villages.
My ears prick up at this news. Two days previously, I was contacted by a prospective client who’s looking for a rural property so that he and his family can keep animals and grow their own produce and I think this might have potential. Michel promises to ask his brother in law to give me a call. Arriving home, the phone is ringing as I open the front door.
On the other end is a lady calling in response to an email I sent her the previous day about a small farmhouse she is selling. My mind switches rapidly into French as I note down the details, ask some vital questions about the type of heating, age of the boiler and size of the garden. Madame is only too happy to supply this information and goes into great detail about how long she has owned the property, the neighbours and the medical condition that is her principal reason for selling. It all sounds good and I make an appointment to see the house.
The house in question is not on the books of any estate agent, but in common with around 40% of French houses, is being sold privately. Because I know the area, I can search out private sales and save my clients money that they would otherwise have spent on agent’s fees.
The clients that I’m currently on a search for are on a tight budget and want a traditional property with a large garden and room for a caravan that isn’t too far from a village. Whilst I’m sure I can find them a house that fits the brief, there will almost certainly be work to be done.
In the case of a lovely old house that I viewed for them last week, a new kitchen and bathroom along with some re-decoration might be enough, but it will probably need rewiring too.
Among the most important things that a property finder brings to the table are in-depth local knowledge and an address book full of contacts. Luckily, mine includes a really good electrician who can give me a quote so that my clients know what they’d need to spend.
Even after I’ve found them the dream house, there are often changes that buyers want to make and I’m always happy to put them in touch with local artisans whose work I know and trust.
I manage to fit in another viewing before dinner: a beautifully restored stone cottage with pale green shutters. Although the garden is enormous and the price within budget, I worry that it won’t have enough internal space for my clients and take some video footage.
Driving home, I reflect that, given my addiction to any book or TV programme that involves houses, interior design and La Belle France, I seem to have found the perfect job.
- The French Property Finders are property professionals in France who exclusively represent buyers and work under a Carte Professionelle (Transactions) with the mandatory indemnity insurance.
- For further information or for help with your property search, please contact one of our local property finders with expert knowledge of the most sought-after areas in France.
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