Since I began selling property full-time in France in 2005, I have seen a strong market turn into a very tough market. However, one thing that has remained a constant over the years is the main reason for a house sale to fall through.
Given the nature of today’s market and the fact you are unlikely to have buyers fighting over your beautiful property, it makes sense to stack the odds in your favour. Yet having looked at statistics from 2013, the most common cause for an agreed sale to collapse was due to negative information being presented at the Compromis de Vente stage.
As readers are probably aware, when a house sale is agreed in France, it is obligatory for the vendor to provide a number of diagnostic tests to a buyer to check before they are obliged to sign the first contract. Unfortunately, except for the energy report (DPE), French law does not require a homeowner to have these tests in place prior to putting their house on the market.
Consequently, a buyer falls in love with a house, agrees to a price and is then presented with a contract to sign along with a huge wad of paperwork relating to inspections for termites, lead in paint, Asbestos, electricity installation condition and the dreaded fosse septique control.
It is at this point the potential buyer discovers all the flaws with the house they have fallen in love with. About now, pound signs are starting to flash before their eyes and before the cold sweats start, they run screaming from the notaire’s office. (Okay, only once has this happened to me.)
The best advice, and I know many do take this on board, is to ensure you have all of the diagnostics in place prior to marketing your house for sale, and then if anything is reported as being non-conforming or in need of updating, you as the vendor can make an informed choice. Do I have the work carried out, at which point my agent will shout from the rooftops about how this property conforms to all current standards, or do I at least gather quotations for updating work, so that when I do have an offer on the table a potential buyer will already be in possession of the financial implications of certain anomalies in the house? Just remember, forewarned is to be forearmed.