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Buying? The French Riviera property market explained.

On our international real estate portal, you will find more than 2000 properties, from small to large and from Menton to Saint Tropez. In addition, we make some trips to expand our market in regions where we like to be active, such as Paris, Aix en Provence, Ibiza, Portugal and Mauritius. Before searching online to find your ideal home, knowing how the French market works is essential. And how French estate agents work.

Buying? The French Riviera property market explained

The registration of a customer and nationality is a priority for everyone. Because whoever has the customer earns the commission. That is why everyone is working on bringing in leads (potential buyers) through websites such as Green Acres or Bien Ici.

If you are a prospective buyer, we will give you access to over 500 brokers plus our service network. You are our VIP, meaning you can reach us seven days a week for questions. The only condition for our service is that we register your name with the brokers and represent you during the selection and purchase process.

And if you find a house somewhere online that appeals to you, send us the link, and we will request the file and background information.

But there is a good chance we will find a home that suits you. The next step is timing. Because selling a house in the South of France can go very quickly.

Multiple brokers for one property

France is the only country where a seller can hire several brokers. They then receive a ‘mandate non-exclusive’, meaning they agree to find a buyer and receive the sales commission. Just like the following real estate agent.

The disadvantage of such a non-exclusive mandate is that no one makes much effort. With an average of 3 to 5 real estate agents, the house appears on their website, hangs in a shop window, comes in a booklet that can be taken on the street and is advertised a few times on French websites such as Bien’ici, Greenacres, Le Figaro and Les belles Demeures.

Real estate agencies can spend between 5 and 10,000 euros per month promoting a non-exclusive mandate. The reason for this method is that no one will invest too much money in a house if there is a chance that a colleague broker can also sell it.

But if French real estate agents have an exclusive mandate, they are the only real estate agent allowed to sell the property. At such a moment, they make considerably more effort. Using drones, videos, international advertising on more prominent portals and print campaigns in newspapers, hoping to find that one buyer.

In both cases, all listings are on our portal. For agencies, promoting it on Living on the Cote d’Azur is a free listing with a ‘no-cure, no-pay’ agreement. And since ‘inbound marketing‘ and SEO are our daily work, our website appears high in the search engines outside France. Foreign buyers in particular therefore first see the advertisements on our website. When information is requested, we handle this in collaboration with the selling agent.

What not to do if you are searching to buy property

In principle, our assistance with purchasing real estate in France and other countries is free of charge for the buyer. The broker or developer will share the commission with us if we bring in a client they don’t know yet.

Therefore, never request information yourself. We know it’s done quickly on a website; enter your name, telephone number and email address, and you will receive a brochure in your mailbox. You are called in a few days to see if you are ready to buy.

The other disadvantage is that we can no longer work for you for the portfolio of that one broker. Or that developer.

We are not cold-hearted sellers. Listening to the buyer’s wishes is the most important thing. And we are then providing correct information. Ultimately, a home has to sell itself; we can only open a door or tell you why a project will succeed. We have enjoyed living here since 2006 and see ourselves more as ambassadors for the region.

You can read here what our customers think of our service and guidance. The English reviews about Living on the Cote d’Azur can be found here. And you can read the Dutch reviews about Wonen aan de Cote d’Azur here.

buying a new property in south of france

Assistance with the purchase of new construction in France

For new construction, we have direct access to the national stock. All our partners are nationally operating developers, so if you’re looking for something in Aix Les Bains, Paris, Lyon or Bordeaux, we can provide that for you too.

Our service gives you the advantage that we can also quickly switch with you during the weekend (when the offices in France are closed) about which apartments are still available. If you like the price and surface, we can activate an option. This option, without obligation, blocks the apartment from other buyers for three days.

You then have the choice to convert the option into a reservation. Read more about the purchase of new construction from abroad.

If you have seen an advertisement for new construction, do not request the information yourself. The real estate game rules are simple in France: ‘he who registers the customer has the customer’. Once you are in the database with a developer or broker, we cannot help you. Our work is then no longer paid for by the developer or broker.

Assistance with the purchase of existing apartments and villas

Existing homes in France can sell very quickly. When a 1 million dollar villa comes on the market, buyers flock to them locally and internationally. There are only so many villas of 1 million left. Simply because demand exceeds supply, and with that, the prices are getting higher.

In 2023 a house of up to 1 million euros has to be renovated. And up to 1.5 million, it is livable but dated. Good quality starts at two million. But still, you can’t be too selective. A sea view is fantastic, but only sometimes available. And it is an element that drives up the price. At the same time, a beautiful open view over the Alps can be very relaxing.

But if you know what you are looking for and walk into a property, you can buy your second home in the South of France within seventeen seconds. In all cases, whoever can decide the fastest becomes the new owner.

What property exactly are you looking for?

Using our service to find a property for you in our network works as follows. We will discuss what you are looking for via telephone or our Cote d’Azur video meeting room. We ask several questions that you can also find in the Property Buying Guide.

We then register your name with the selling brokers in the desired region. We will have access to all information if they do not know you. We also often hear background information about why a home is for sale. And whether there is still some play in the price.

From Long list to Shortlist

On average, ten days before your arrival in the South of France, you will receive a long list of potential properties to visit. If you come across something online yourself, please send it to us via email or WhatsApp. We will quickly request the data for you. In the end, you will have a shortlist with a maximum of 5 properties that we will view. We ensure the various estate agents are ready to open the door for you at the agreed times.

If your heart starts beating faster at that one home, and you’ve made your choice, we can negotiate a bid for you. We check for you in the register of notaries whether the price is in line with the market and maybe recommend a technical construction report. The costs of a technical inspection are at your expense and must be done before you sign the ‘compromis de vente’.

The seller prefers a buyer who has the money and doesn’t have to wait for the bank’s approval. Having the money in your bank account is a firm price-negotiating argument. The seller can agree to a lower price for an instant deal. The risk of opting for a buyer with conditional financing is that the bank will cancel the initial purchase after three months. And the entire sales process has to be restarted.

Choose your notary

For convenience, the ‘compromis de vente‘ or preliminary purchase agreement is often drawn up by the seller’s notary. But in France, you can choose the notary yourself. You ultimately pay the notary, and the seller’s notary then shares his fee with your notary. We work with several friendly civil-law notaries who are used to Dutch sobriety. Of course, they also speak English, and they serve great coffee.

If this appeals to you, your notary will draw up the ‘compromis de vente’ and defend your interests. Illegally built carports or vague agreements about crossing paths are thoroughly investigated and resolved for you.

Your notary can also arrange the purchase through an SCI, a property management company. The advantage is that you and your company or family members can be shareholders of such a French BV. The wealth tax can thus be divided among several people. If you want to rent out the purchase of the SCI, you must set up a French SAS that only takes care of the rental management of the property.

exclusive property search

Higher segment searches

If you want to live a long and healthy life, consider the South of France as a destination to retire. A healthy living environment, quality of care, safety and the love for good food; are all factors that come into play. Therefore, you are looking for a house where you want to grow old. And which your children and grandchildren will enjoy later. For buyers in a more exclusive price range, we offer a search that also searches outside the traditional network.

About 60% of the market in France is sold through one of the five hundred brokers in the South of France. But beyond that, everything is still for sale. That property can be a villa offered for sale by private individuals or through a family office. Or it is a villa that is ‘off-market’. You will not find this property online, although the seller has engaged a broker to provide the reports and diagnostics. The broker offers it to a limited extent in their network.

We are happy to look for your ideal home, although no one can share the commission with us in this case. In such a situation, we ask for a 2% commission on the final sales price for our work. We try to negotiate our commission as a minimum. Inquire about this service where discretion is paramount.

Are you ready for a first call? Contact us here or send an email to [email protected]

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About The Author
Ab Kuijer

Founder of Living on the Côte d'Azur, the luxury real estate portal with personal service. Experienced communicator and marketeer. Former radio, TV and advertising producer in Amsterdam. Author of the marketing book: ‘Think Small, Grow Big’. Ab Kuijer is Living on the Côte d'Azur since 2006 for the obvious reasons: sun, sea, wine and healthy food. Became on the French Riviera the first Dutch President of the British Chamber of Commerce, later rebranded the Riviera Business Club. Happily married to Jojo. Reads and writes 2000 words per day about different topics.