What is the Mandat de Vente When Selling a French Property?
If you opt to sell your French property using an estate agent, you will need to sign a ‘mandat de vente’ (a sales mandate). Let’s take a look at what this contract entails, the different types of mandate, and the things you need to know before you sign.
What is a Mandat de Vente?
A mandat de vente or contrat bilatéral is a written and legally binding contract between the seller of a French property and the estate agent(s). The mandat de vente sets out the terms of the sale agreement, including the sale price of the property and the agency fees, i.e., the % commission paid to the estate agent upon the sale of the property. The contract should also include details of any exclusivity agreement, the duration of the contract, and any withdrawal or termination criteria.
Note that a mandate de vente may be titled differently depending on the agency. It’s not uncommon to hear it called a mandat de sécurité or a mandat garantie confiance, but this is still the same thing and, most importantly, it will still be a legally binding contract.
Do I have to sign a mandat de vente?
Yes. A mandat de vente is mandatory if you wish to sell your property in France using a French estate agent. Under the Loi Hoguet law, real estate agents must have a written mandate to act on behalf of their clients. A verbal agreement is not sufficient.
However, it’s important to note that an exclusivity agreement with the estate agent is not mandatory (although some agencies may still try andinsist on this). Instead, there are three different types of mandat de vente are available, allowing different exclusivity terms (more on this below).
Is a mandat de vente legally binding?
Yes! When you sign the mandat de vente, it’s important to remember that you are signing a legally binding contract. You will be bound by the terms of the sale outlined in the contract, so it’s essential to know exactly what you are signing before you sign!
The three types of Mandat de Vente for your French property sale
There are three different types of mandat de vente in France:
- Simple mandate or mandat simple
- Semi-exclusive mandate or mandat semi-exclusif
- Exclusive mandate or mandat exclusif
A simple mandate is the most commonly signed mandate and gives the greatest freedom to the seller. Under this mandate, you are free to list your French property for sale with multiple estate agencies and/or advertise your property privately.
The potential downside to this is that an estate agent may not put as much effort into advertising or selling a property that they know may be sold by another agency. However, if you are confident that your property will sell, this is unlikely to be a deciding factor.
A simple mandate is typically signed for a duration of 3 months and is renewable.
A semi-exclusive mandate allows the estate agent exclusivity (i.e., you can’t list your property with any other estate agents), but you retain the right to sell the property privately. This could be a win-win situation, as either you benefit from the assistance of the estate agent in selling your property or you benefit from a private sale without the associated estate agent fees.
However, be very careful that you read the contract if you opt for this mandate. In particular, be sure that there are no fees or commissions payable to the estate agents in the case of a private sale (sometimes, estate agents will insert a clause into the contract that includes a compensatory fee in the event of a private sale).
You also need to be vigilant that if you sell privately, the potential buyer must not have already visited the property through the estate agent. If they have and have signed a bon de visite (a contract that essentially prevents a buyer from approaching the seller directly to undercut the estate agents’ price), then you will not legally be able to sell the property to that buyer without going through the estate agent (and paying the associated fees).
An exclusive mandate allows the estate agent complete exclusivity, meaning that you can’t list your property with any other estate agents or advertise the property for sale privately. Even in the event that you find a buyer yourself, they will be obliged to go through the estate agent and pay the relevant commission.
While this option is by far the most restrictive, it does have some potential advantages. An exclusive mandate can only be signed for a maximum of three months, and you could also negotiate a shorter contract (such as one month), making this a good choice if your priority is a quick sale. The combination of the tight timeframe and exclusivity deal also typically means that the estate agent will be highly committed to selling your property as swiftly as possible.
Note that the exclusive mandate is never renewable – it is for a capped duration of three months only. Of course, nothing is stopping you from taking out a further contract if you wish to, but this will be a new mandate.
Selling your French property: signing the Mandat de Vente
As with all legally binding contracts in France, it’s important that you understand exactly what you are signing. The contract should include the details of both the seller and the estate agent/agency, along with details of the property and the agreed-upon sales price. The most important details to verify include the following:
- The agency’s commission – this averages around 5% but could be as high as 9%. Make sure that you understand exactly how much of the property sale price you will receive after the fees have been accounted for.
- The type of mandate, i.e., whether or not you are able to list your property with other agents and/or as a private sale.
- The contract duration. This is typically three months for a single mandate, but don’t assume that this is the case. Be sure to negotiate an arrangement that works for you, and in the case of single and semi-exclusive mandates, take note of whether the contract is automatically renewed at the end of the duration period, as well as the notice period that is required to end the contract.
- Any additional clauses: for example, the estate agent might try to include a clause that prevents you from listing the property at a lower price with competing agents or privately, or may stipulate a commission to be paid to them in the event of a private sale. Remember that you can always refuse or negotiate on these clauses – which would be recommended in both of these example cases.
How do I withdraw from or terminate a Mandat de Vente?
Finally, it’s important to understand when and how you can withdraw from or terminate your mandat de vente contract. Firstly, there is a 14-day cooling-off period after signing the mandat de vente during which the seller (you!) may withdraw from the contract with no consequences. However, once this period has passed, you will be bound by the terms of the agreement for the duration of the contract – the only way to terminate the contract during this time is if the professional does not uphold their part of the agreement.
You may end the agreement after the original duration period (typically three months) has passed, but you will need to respect the notice period and issue a formal termination request. Typically this means giving 15 days’ notice and sending a lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception (a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt). You can find an example of such a letter here.
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