Guide to Selling Property in France
- Choosing an Estate Agent
- Carte Professionnelle
- Mandat de Vente
- Property Description
- Code of Conduct
3. Mandat de Vente - Sale Mandate
Once you have chosen your estate agent(s), you will need to enter into a written contract with them, called a mandat de vente.
Not only must the contract be in writing, but it must also take a particular form.
A contract that is not in writing, or that does not comply with the essential requirements of the law, is invalid.
An estate agent is not entitled to a commission unless there exists a valid written mandat.
The mandat should be distinguished from a bon de visite, which is merely a record that an agent has introduced a property to a potential seller. By itself, a bon de visite grants no entitlement to a commission.
Non-exclusive contracts are called mandat de vente simple, whilst an exclusive contract with one agent is called a mandat de vente exclusif.
There are also mixed contracts, called mandat de vente semi-exclusif, where you grant exclusivity to only one agent, but you retain the right to also sell the property privately.
An entirely exclusive contract means that, even if you sell the property privately, the estate agent is still entitled to their fee.
In the case of a semi-exclusive contract, if you sell the property privately to a buyer who visited the property via the estate agent will still be entitled to their fee.
Although there may be a temptation by a seller to engage several agents this is not always the best strategy to adopt, as agents who consider they are competing with several others may not always put in the effort required to sell the property. It is a judgement you need to make.
However, if you do offer exclusivity to a single agent, you may wish to consider retaining a right to sell the property privately, without an obligation on the fee if you then sell it privately.
3.1. Right of Retraction
If the contract is signed in your home or outside of the offices (hors établissement) of the agent there exists a 14-day period when you have the right to withdraw from the contract.
This period is called the délais de rétractation.
The mandat must make this right of retraction clear.
No right of withdrawal exists if the contract is signed in the offices of the estate agent, so it is preferable to take your time over signing it.
If you change your mind you need to inform the agent in writing, often using a tear off portion which is on the contract. Send by recorded delivery.
You must also be provided with a copy of the mandat, which should include on it the business registration number of the agent.
The mandat must also be signed prior to the sale taking place.
3.2. Time Limited
The mandat must be time limited, or it is not valid.
However, a non-exclusive contract can be renewed automatically, so you need to be aware of the anniversary date of renewal to ensure you provide notice to the agent if you do not wish to continue with their services.
In contrast, an exclusive mandat cannot be renewed automatically, and must be time limited to three months renewal.
You will find that you often need to give 15 days’ notice to terminate the mandat.
The fee payable is a matter for negotiation with the agent.
No fee can be demanded until the sale is concluded, although if you act in bad faith on a sale arranged by an agent you can be made liable for damages.
Most mandats state that responsibility for the fees is that of the buyer, but this clause is only enforceable if it is accepted by the buyer!
We say more about this issue in the section on 'Fees/Commission'.
3.4. Double Mandats
An estate agent in France can be both an agent on behalf of a seller and a buyer, enabling them to obtain a commission from both the contracts, although the practice is not widespread.
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