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A recent poll carried out by Languedoc property specialist website shows that foreign buyers in France think French estate agents are over-paid and provide poor levels of service. However, confidence in French property, particularly in the Languedoc area, is still very high.

Carried out over three months, the Property Buyers Poll reveals some controversial results. The poll was completed by over 500 foreign home owners, all of whom had bought property in the Languedoc region of southern France.

"Daylight robbery"
By a margin of 3-to-1, respondents felt that 'French estate agent commissions are daylight robbery'. A small majority also feared that French estate agents inflate prices for foreign buyers. So in terms of value for money, buyers felt agents were hugely over-paid. With UK commission rates around 1.5 per cent, the standard 5-10 per cent charged by French estate agents was resented.

"We paid 7 per cent to our agent - and for that, we got poorly written property details with awful photo-graphs. I just don't understand why their commissions are so high. Maybe that's why there are so many of them!" - Steve Craig

"There are many sharks in the industry who will inflate prices exorbitantly when they see you are a foreigner, and who try to pull all kinds of dirty tricks to seal a deal. Go on recommendation if possible." - Sharon Black

"Take it or leave it"
The quality of service offered by French estate agents was called into question, with 50 per cent of respondents feeling agents 'didn't listen to our brief - they just showed us what they wanted to sell'.

"The estate agents almost never called us with house listings that fit our requirements." - Don Weedman
"French agents have a ' take it or leave it' attitude." - Barry Lester

Certain British estate agents operating in France were also criticised for taking too much while adding little to the process.

"I know of Brits being done and overpaying so-called British "property finders" who overcharge unnecessary services" - Ruth Negri
"Seriously pissed off by the 'hidden' fee payable to a large British property firm selling homes in France - they did very little work for their money (I speak fluent French) PLUS they didn't actually translate all the documents they said they had." - Isobel Evans

Most felt that British-based middle men were unnecessary - and that a good and trusted local agent plus searching direct on the internet and/or driving around towns asking in town halls about property for sale - was enough to find what they were looking for.

A buoyant market
By a 3-to-1 margin, respondents felt that 'there are bargains to be had - if you look hard enough'. This is in line with recent official figures released by FNAIM, the French association of estate agents, that suggest prices for property in Languedoc are still low compared to Provence, and still growing at a much higher rate.

The caveat of 'if you look hard enough' was further explained by the fact that, again by a 3-to-1 margin, respondents felt that 'I found properties shown to me by estate agents to be pretty shoddy'. The low quality of property in the area is probably the result of decades of under-investment, caused by once-low prices and a flat market - before the market started to accelerate in the past 5 years. Clearly, then, good quality properties are still relatively hard to find, but once discovered, offer excellent value for money and healthy investment potential.

This finding is further backed up by the fact that, by a huge margin of 5-to-1, respondents felt that property in the Languedoc region 'is still a good investment - prices are rising well.'

Most found the French property buying process easy to understand, and a small majority felt it was worth appointing 'your own notaire or English legal advisor when buying property'.

Overall, despite reservations about estate agent commissions and low levels of service, respondents seem very optimistic about the value that property in France (and in Languedoc in particular) offers, with the caveat that finding the elusive 'bargain' requires some effort and persistence on the part of the property hunter.

Respondents to the poll also sent in their advice to would-be property buyers in France. You can read their advice, all of it excellent, at:

For more information, contact Alex Charles
+33 (0)4 67 88 70 33
or visit

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