Ten Things To Know When You Sell Your Property in France


How to sell your property in Lyon: directly or with an agency?

In an era when intermediaries are often seen as unnecessary in France, some people may be tempted to try and sell their property themselves. In this article, Jon Chinn of expat specialist Leggett Immobilier compares the implications of selling directly with using an agency.


1- Statistics about property sales in France

Agencies represent the majority of property sales in France (81%) – only 19% of all accommodation sales are between private individuals. As a comparison, the percentage of private sales in the UK and the USA is less than 5%.

2- Selling a property takes time

Don’t underestimate the time it takes – selling is time consuming. Preparing and creating an advert, organizing the diagnostic reports, replying to questions and requests by e-mail or telephone, managing visits and getting paperwork ready for the contracts all take time.

Property for sale in Lyon, France

A house for sale in Lyon, France

And a buyer whose finances aren’t in place will delay the transaction by several months if a sales agreement falls through.

3- Agencies provide a professional vision

A real estate professional is devoid of emotional attachment to a family home, is used to visiting different kinds of property and receiving client feedback, and so can recommend certain modifications in order to make a property easier to sell and will have an objective, unbiased view.

Only a professional, bound to a code of ethics is obliged to reveal hidden faults to a buyer. This is one reason why a lot of buyers prefer to use an agency to buy their home.

4- Your property needs high quality presentation

Professional photos, floorplans, detailed description underlining the unique selling points, virtual tours, an agency has a range of effective tools designed to attract buyers.

Have you ever tried taking a photo of a small room such as a bathroom with your camera? An estate agent is usually equipped with an ultra-wide angle lens which gets round this problem.

A good agent will edit photos in software such as Photoshop or Lightroom, meaning there is no vertical distorsion or unwelcome shadow that could put off a buyer looking for a bright place to live. 

5- Agencies have access to special websites and advertising

Only agencies have access to specialized websites or portals that are consulted by many buyers that don’t consult private sale websites.

An apartment for sale in Lyon, France

Professional photos, floorplans…, an agency has a range of effective tools designed to attract buyers.

Their buying power means that your property will appear in the first search results on the internet. Magazines, newspapers, flyers, for sale boards – agencies have a wide range of ways of advertising your property to ensure maximum visibility.

6- Professional help for pricing strategy

Private sellers usually try and sell at a high price to start with to “test” the market and then lower the price when the property doesn’t sell.

A visible price reduction, especially if it’s by a lot, damages the image of the property however and puts buyers off.

Although various websites to help with evaluations are easy to find, private sellers do not have experience of analyzing this information.

For example, new builds are more expensive than older property, yet some vendors compare a renovated property with a brand new property and try and sell at the price of new property in the same area.

7- No price advantage of selling privately

Many vendors think they can sell at a higher price privately by including the agency fees in the asking price.

A house for sale in Lyon, France

Private sellers usually try and sell at a high price to start with to “test” the market.

The value added by a professional can be explained by the service, however a private individual cannot offer the same service. Private buyers therefore negotiate more with a private vendor than with a professional.

8- A real estate professional makes it easier for an agreement to be reached

A real estate professional, with no attachment to the property in question, familiar with the current market including legal aspects, and with knowledge of vendor and buyer, makes it easier for an agreement to be reached, especially if there is a language barrier between vendor and buyer.

9- Using an agency means quantity of potential buyers

Most buyers in France use an agency to find a property, so not using an agency means restricting the search for a buyer to a minority of potential buyers.

English and American buyers are used to buying and selling through an agency in their home countries for example. An agency with an international reach has local, national and international buyers.

10- Advertising abroad

Using an agency that advertises abroad helps other expats. Remember how difficult it was to find a place when you first arrived in Lyon?

It’s even harder for somebody who is not on location, especially in a far-away country. And as the population grows and prices rise, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a place to buy.


Although it’s possible to sell a property directly, using an agency is highly recommended to save you time, money and stress.

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