The role of an Estate Agent is often maligned with the assumption that we spend all day flouncing around in our Ferraris while looking for ways to fleece old people and ruin the lives of unsuspecting house buyers. So let me try and set the record straight by describing a typical week in a realtor’s life.
Listing day. Drive to Menton and then Nice to visit a number of new properties, including a beautiful apartment in Menton with great sea views and a superb renovation project in Mont Boron, Nice. A listing appointment can last over two hours, as we have to discuss with the vendor how we can present the house, photography, and how to produce our free 360° virtual tour of the principal rooms.
After visiting four properties, it’s back to the office to create the official paperwork for marketing (mandate), to be certain we have permission from all the owners and that the property is actually owned by said owners – you wouldn’t believe how many times vendors have to be reminded that they can’t put the house up for sale if an ex-wife/sister/great aunt etc, who happen to be on the deed, is not in agreement too.
Meet with a lovely couple that are at the early stage of searching for a holiday home in the Fayence area. We transfer to my car with a plan to view six properties that meet their pre-qualified specifications. It becomes apparent at the first visit that husband and wife don’t agree on anything and that the remaining viewings are also likely to be opposite to what they actually want. We visit two more houses before lunch and agree to sit and discuss a change of plan. I call the afternoon vendors to apologise and explain that the client has decided they don’t want to have a 2-bedroom house in a village, and that 5 bedrooms for their 3 children and a pool are a must.
Arrive home after a long day on the road, still none the wiser except that the couple will “know it when we see it”.
Admin day. I write descriptions for the four properties I listed on Monday, so once signed mandates are received they can go live on our site without delay.
Call yesterday’s husband and wife duo to arrange another day of viewing more suitable properties.
Call clients from the weekend who expressed interest in a particular property and after discussing a number of financial questions on the tax implications of owning in France, they decide to make an offer, although somewhat under the asking price. While we will make this offer, I explain to the buyer that if a house is already priced to reflect a tougher market, the seller is unlikely to reduce by a further 25%.
Today concludes with numerous hours spent answering emails and forwarding marketing plans for specific properties to our exclusive UK partner, Hamptons International.
Morning spent organising the septic tank test for a house we have sold. Liaise with the notaires via our internal contracts department and take a sharp intake of breath when the owner of said house decides now is an opportune moment to inform us that he never had planning permission for the veranda at the front of the house. Once I pick myself up off the floor, we work together to make certain the correct paperwork is submitted to regularise this “oversight”. This involved us actually filling out all of the relevant documents (in quadruplicate) and driving to his mairie to submit them (I won’t even mention the fact that the person in charge of urbanism had the day off).
I also have to make sure a clause is added to the buyer’s contract to ensure this regularisation is satisfied before a completion can take place, very much protecting the buyer from future problems.
Meet with client and once again drive the length and breadth of the Fayence Canton – although today is much more positive and the couple thank me for transferring their feedback into very relevant viewings. One house in particular is spot on and they decide to make an offer.
After some negotiation this is accepted by the vendor and I begin the aforementioned paper trail, liaising with notaires, our contracts department and local structural surveyors to make sure the purchase contract is ready before Monday afternoon as the client departs Tuesday on a three-week holiday to Dubai.
Catch up all morning on emails, send high-resolution photos to a UK magazine editor for a feature being presented on a very interesting property we have for sale in Montauroux.
Day of rest – apparently. Why is it though I can never turn my phone off?
A good agent will put in the effort so that your purchase goes as smoothly as possible and if you’re a vendor, they’ll work hard to get you the best price – and won’t simply disappear after the final act. I have personally helped new owners to negotiate a deal on a car from their local Peugeot dealer, arranged all utility transfers for the new house and have even translated their telephone instructions because “they are in French”.