2008 could sound a death knell for many estate agents, although the situation will probably not be as drastic as in Spain where half of all estate agents closed down in 2007.
Bernard Cadeau, head of the ORPI chain of French estate agents, said: “2008 will see the closure of many agencies - and it will be nothing but natural justice.
“The era of estate agencies being the cash cows of a booming property sector has come to an end.”
He added: “It’s bad news for the many unprofessional outfits that have cropped up in the last ten years but it will be good news for those people looking to buy.
“The competent and professional estate agents will survive.”
According to economics professor Michel Mouillart, in the last ten years the number of estate agencies in France has risen from 17,000 to 32,000, in which time prices have doubled and the number of transactions has risen 37%.
He said: “The result of this is that many agents came on to the market without knowing much about it.
“The growth of the housing market has slowed and battles between estate agents over a falling number of properties have got more and more intense.”
Henry Buzy-Cazaux, director or the Tagerim agency, added: “The mortality rate is going to be high.
“There are still too many estate agents living under the fantasy of a golden age of a fast moving market.
“The profession must modernise, become more client-centric.”
Jean Lavaupot, director of the Era network, said customers were now much more aware of the market, knew how to compare prices using the internet and expected much more from agencies in terms of getting a deal done quickly and negotiating the right price.
He said: “The ones who will stay are those who know their jobs well, understand the market and make the effort to do the best possible job for clients.
“The unacceptable practice of non-respect for clients, which has become widespread, must, and will, come to an end.”