Selling your French house: How to get the price you want
Pre-sales guidance | Selling in France
Selling your French house: How to get price you want
Selling a property depends on its condition and can take months or even years. Of course, there are some relatively quick cosmetic fixes that will help speed up the selling process. But what should you do about more costly changes? And what do buyers in France expect?
Read on for key tips on French conventions when selling a property, what you should consider when preparing your house for sale, and how a survey can help you reach your asking price.
1. How can understanding buyers' expectations help?
As a seller, it's important to be realistic about the property and your asking price. Consider the kind of buyer that the house would appeal to, and then to ensure you do what's needed to meet their needs and expectations.
So, consider how you will position your property to appeal to potential buyers. For example, if your property is in great condition, you may choose to sell the benefits of a complete, "ready to move in" home. You're more likely to attract prospective buyers searching for a property that requires little or no repairs or renovation and ticks those "ideal home" boxes.
On the other hand, positioning the property as a renovation project can attract buyers who will consider the potential of the house and land for renovation, extension and serious restoration.
And then there are those who fall somewhere in between: they are happy to decorate and expect a few minor repairs and improvements. They may also plan some upgrades over time, but in essence this very common type of buyer wants a livable home that doesn't require complex building work.
And there are a few cultural differences too...
As in the UK, it's generally expected that, unless otherwise agreed, what is fitted in the house is sold with the house. But there are a few anomalies that are a little different from the UK which it's good to be aware of. For example, French properties often have freestanding rather than fitted kitchens. It's not unusual for unsuspecting buyers to discover on moving day that the seller has taken the units with them (minus the kitchen sink)!
2. How can general condition affect the asking price?
General condition is all-important when it comes to getting the price you want. Our advice is that fixing minor issues is always worth a little investment.
Take the time to look over your property honestly and objectively to assess the general condition. What can you see that needs repairing, treating or sprucing up? For example, painting windows and shutters that have been singed by the sun, repairing broken handrails, cleaning and treating damp patches, servicing the boiler, emptying the septic system, or fixing dripping taps.
And it goes without saying: keep the house well aired, the garden in good condition, and the property tidy inside and out.
It's unlikely to be expensive to rectify most of these things, especially where you can do it yourself. But with a little outlay, time and effort, you can put right the small issues that may otherwise be picked up by viewers or immobilers (selling agents) and influence a buyer's offer.
3. How can defects impact time on the market?
Resolving the easily fixable repairs and giving the property a lick of paint is important. But what about the bigger issues?
It's no surprise that health and safety defects can have considerable impact on the desirability of a property. It is a legal requirement in France for the property to be professionally inspected as part of the sale and purchase agreement (compromis de vente). These diagnostic inspections don't cover everything, but focus on key areas such as gas and electrical installations, drainage, asbestos, lead and termites.
Who covers the cost?
As a seller, it's your responsibility to pay for the diagnostics inspection but not to resolve any problems found (with the exception of termites and some other timber infestations). However, it also opens up the floor to negotiation and bigger defects can have a considerable impact on the asking price, which can then delay the sale.
What's more, diagnostic reports are time-limited. If the sale doesn't go through quickly, some inspections will need to be redone and the cost of this can fall to you, the seller.
4. How much do I do to make it saleable?
So weigh up the cost of putting right any defects against how quickly you want to sell and the price you'll accept.
If the buyer wants any defects resolved as a condition of the sale, it's important for you to ensure that any outlay still makes the sale price financially viable for you.
What might the buyer request? This is where being objective about your property comes into its own. Preempt what people may request - renovations, repairs, conversions, improvements - get the facts and ensure you know how much it will cost you beforehand.
5. Can a survey help?
Asking a surveyor to cast an expert eye over your property can make all the difference in achieving the price you want. A good French property survey will include a full, impartial inspection of all elements of the building. Importantly, a good surveyor will also provide a professional assessment of structure, condition and damp, none of which are included in the standard diagnostic reports.
Understanding your property is key to knowing what you are selling, what you may need to put right to reach the price you want, and the potential outlay needed to make it saleable. You'll also have a professional document to share with potential buyers, so that they have all the facts before they commit.
How can we help you?
Before you buy your new home in France, find out how we can help you.
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