A Guide to the Different Mandates Available with French Real Estate Agents

Moving to France should be an exciting and fulfilling experience, but you will need to call upon a wide network of expert help in order to settle into your new life with a minimum of stress. One of the first tasks you will need to address is finding a place to live. If you intend to buy, you can either use the services of an estate agent or seek a property with a private seller. However, when you decide to sell your property, there are some key differences in France that you should be aware of. Using an estate agent will give you access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the French property market, and it could help you to secure a higher sale price. However, estate agents offer three main mandates - and choosing the right one for your own property sale requires some detailed knowledge of what they all entail.

Estate agents in France

The most common way to sell a property in France is with an estate agency - referred to as an 'Agence Immobilière'. Estate agency offices are ubiquitous in France, and they can even be found in small, rural villages. As in the UK, estate agents in France can be employed to represent both buyers and sellers, but they offer their services according to three main types of agreement.

Choosing the most suitable estate agency

Most mandates agreed with real estate agents in the UK are based on an exclusive agreement. However, such arrangements are more rare in France. Sellers can select two or more estate agents to market their property - or opt to sell the property privately - which is why 'for sale' signs are not widespread in France. If you want to reach as many potential buyers as possible, it can make sense to list your French property with several agencies. However, choosing which of the three main types of mandate is best for you can depend on your specific circumstances.

An exclusive agency agreement

Referred to as a 'mandat exclusif' in France, an exclusive agreement gives your chosen agency exclusivity in the marketing and final sale of your property. While this form of agreement stops you from selling your property with other agencies, you are still free to find a buyer privately. However, having signed a 'mandat exclusif', you must direct the buyer to your agency, and exactly the same rate of commission will be payable.

If you are not around to conduct viewings, this type of agreement will usually mean you can hand the entire responsibility of selling your home over to the agent. This type of mandate usually lasts for three to six months, but cancelling the agreement will probably require giving your agent formal notice in writing.

A semi-exclusive agency agreement

A 'mandat semi-exclusif' is a semi-exclusive agreement that leaves you the option of finding a buyer yourself. And unlike the exclusive mandate, finding a buyer yourself will mean you are only liable for a percentage of the commission charged by your chosen agency - usually 50 percent. However, this agreement does not permit you to sign concurrent agreements with other estate agencies.

A non-exclusive agreement

Referred to in France as a 'mandate simple', a non-exclusive agreement with an estate agency means you are free to list your property with as many agencies as you wish. You also have the option of looking for buyers yourself. You pay commission to the agency that secures the sale of your property; however, you are free to use any agency to process the necessary paperwork if you find a buyer yourself. You will also have the option of working directly with a 'notaire' - a property specialist who deals with the legal aspect of property transactions in France.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to enlist the services of an estate agent, the use of a notaire to complete the legal work is compulsory. From the drawing up of a 'compromis de vente' to the final 'acte de vente', your notaire will ensure that your sale is legally compliant. As the seller, you will normally appoint a notaire yourself, but it may be the case that a different notaire is appointed by the buyer. The fees payable for legal charges will then simply be split equally between both legal representatives. If you decide to use an estate agency to complete the sale, they will suggest reliable and competent notaires who are locally based.

The expert advice, knowledge and experience an estate agent can bring could be invaluable if you are selling property for the first time in France. By choosing the right agent with the best type of mandate for your personal circumstances, you can ensure the sale of your property is both speedy and profitable.

Mortgages are subject to acceptation by BNP Paribas Personal Finance. For all mortgages the borrower has a 10 day reflection period. If the sale is subject to mortgage acceptance any sums already paid must be reimbursed by the seller if the mortgage is declined. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it. Changes in the exchange rate may increase the Sterling equivalent of your debt.