Imagine if you will a world where there is no full or public list of homes for sale. Imagine that you have to drive through every neighborhood your buyer wants to live in to find what homes are for sale. Imagine you have to walk into every neighborhood real estate office to inquire about the for sale properties. Imagine you represent buyers and you have to charge those buyers an extra fee because the listing agent won’t cooperate with you. Imagine you’re a listing agent who has to routinely share billing with one or two more agencies? How does that sound? Like a bad episode of The Twilight Zone?
Close, it’s France.
The country has no MLS and a cultural lack of cooperation when it comes to real estate. The Service Inter Agence, run by the Federation nationale d’immobilier (the NAR of France), has tried to rally the troops but has fallen short. It’s not required for real estate agents to participate in the SIA (although agents do have to be licensed), therefore the information is spotty. Bernard Grech, former president of ORPI, and even the illustrious Alain Pinel claim to have working French MLSs, but in truth, their systems pale in comparison to what we have in America.
Net result of this abstention: bad news for both French real estate agents and buyers and sellers of real estate in France.
For French real estate agents, it causes them to spend much more time searching and researching homes for sale for their buyers. In France a seller can list their home with multiple agencies (talk about a split listing). An exclusive agreement exists, but many owners choose to list their property with more than one neighborhood agency so they can get greater exposure. The good news is floor time looks good with a constant stream of walk-ins, albeit with stiff necks from looking up so much. Listing agents fight to get exclusives and buyer’s agents practically don’t exist.
Buyers face a daunting endeavor. If you don’t have a buyer’s agent, you simply walk neighborhoods and find listed property for sale or you visit brokerages in the neighborhood in which you want to live (and there are multiple per neighborhood).
Most sellers use one of the corner agencies, which by the way don’t have a whiz bang web site with multiple photos and virtual tours. As the French say, pas du tout (not at all). It’s back to the 70s with pictures of for sale homes in the window and maybe a printed home buyers guide in front or just inside the store.
Imagine being a buyer and doing all your own research without the assistance of an IDX web site. Forget finding comparables. And then once you find a home you want to purchase, after making numerous phone calls and scheduling appointments yourself, you have to deal with the listing agent without representation. Eeek.
I might be going out on a limb here, but I think France could take a big old lesson from the real red, white and blue country on this subject.