3. Selling Techniques
Selling a property for the best price requires more than simply appointing an estate agent or putting an announcement on a property listings website.
If you are to sell at the best possible price, and to do so within a reasonable timescale, then you need to consider how you can best offer your property to the market.
The techniques of doing so in France are really no different from selling property in any other country.
Fundamentally, it requires that you approach the sale of your property from the perspective of the buyer, not as the seller.
However, particularly in the countryside, the French have been slow to adopt such an approach, so international sellers more familiar with selling techniques can have an advantage over neighbouring French owned properties that may also be on the market.
Accordingly, here are some of the points you need to consider to optimise your sale prospects.
i. Do You Really Want to Sell? – This may not be as silly a question as it seems, for unless you are in the right frame of mind to sell your property you are unlikely to do all that might be necessary to get the best price. If you are selling with some reluctance this may manifest itself as a lack of real intent, which may well put off any prospective purchaser.
ii. Estate Agent – If you are marketing the property through an estate agent then have a discussion with them about the best approach to marketing your property and the actions you need to take. They are in the best position to judge the expectations of your potential buyers. Ideally, take opinion from several agents.
iii. Condition – Review the condition of the property and consider what repairs and improvements might be appropriate in order to maximise value. No property is ever going to be in a complete state of repair, but you need to be able to give the buyer some confidence that during your stewardship you have taken care of it. Consider carefully before undertaking any improvements to the property, particularly if these are of a personal nature. They do not always add value or improve sales prospects. Consumer surveys show that those properties with a good energy rating sell more quickly and for a higher price.
iv. Home Staging – As far as possible ensure a level of neutrality about the decor and that the property is reasonably uncluttered. However, do not strip it so bear that it loses all sense of ambiance and personality, which often gives warmth to the property. We consider that ensuring the property is clean and tidy is more important than de-personalising it. One space that is frequently neglected is the attic, so try and spend time organising it for presentation. Smells are also important and, particularly if you have animals, make sure that there are no unpleasant odours in the property.
v. Surveys – All sellers now have to provide a range of survey reports as part of the sale contract. It is surprising how important these reports have become to some buyers. Accordingly, do not wait until you have agreed the price to get them done; have them available for prospective buyers to review when they visit the property. This is particularly the case if the reports are going to be in your favour. If this is unlikely to be the case, then it might be best to say so from the outset or you may well find the buyer later uses them as a reason for trying to negotiate down the price. Make sure also you have any other relevant documentation available, such as guarantees, and local rates demands.
vi. Advert Description – The description of the property and the photos that go with it are clearly critical to attracting the interest of your target market. You need to ensure that the description provides enough information to ensure the buyer understands the property and its' location, but not so much that it becomes an essay, or that it does not tempt them into making an enquiry seeking more information. As the type of construction of French properties varies enormously, ensure you state the main materials that have been used.
vii. Photos – Ensure you advertise the property with at least five good quality photos (larger properties will need more), the main one of which should be the front elevation of the property. There is no point in lots of photos of the beautiful interior of the property if a buyer cannot discern the external construction and, ideally, the setting of the property. Clearly, you should emphasise the best parts of the property, such as size of the rooms, or the setting, if these are the key selling points.
viii. Disclosure – Not only do you have a legal obligation to disclose all relevant information about the condition of the property, but it is also likely a transparent approach will provide some reassurance to the potential buyer about making an offer. Buying a house is not like buying a pair of trousers, so conviviality and sincerity are important aspects of the right selling approach.
ix. Pricing – In our experience most sellers over-value their property. Perhaps they do so out of lack of experience, but also because they expect to have to negotiate on the price with a prospective buyer. Although some negotiation on price is almost inevitable, there is a real risk of simply over-pricing the property, as you may well fail to attract interest. If later you have to then substantially reduce your advertised price, it immediately puts you at a psychological disadvantage and will certainly delay sale of the property. Remember, in the sale of your property you are in competition with other properties on the market.
x. Visits - If possible, arrange visits to the property during times when it shows it off at its best. Ensure that the interior of the property is clearly illuminated during the visit so that it looks bright and spacious. Do not burden the buyer with too much information, leaving them to ask the questions, and also give them plenty of time and space to see the property for themselves.
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