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What are rules on private property sales in France?

Sarah Bright-Thomas of Bright Avocats answers a reader query on how to sell a property privately in France

Reader question: The estate agent we signed with has not managed to sell our house in six months. Can we try to advertise and sell the house privately?

It depends on the contract you signed. If it’s an exclusive contract and the period of exclusivity has not expired, you cannot.

If you do, the agent is entitled to be paid the percentage agreed on for a sale at the price fixed in the contract, even if they were not involved in the sale.

These contracts are, in theory, in place until the property is sold. In practice, they are often time-limited, usually three to six months, but often include an automatic renewal clause.

If you want to end the exclusivity, you have to send a letter with an accusé de réception, to the agent at least 15 days before the renewal date saying this.

If you want to sell your house yourself, there are now lots of reputable, and less reputable, internet sites. The most famous in France, dating from before the internet was invented, is Particulier à Particulier.

Most require payment up front – and, if you are serious, a lot of work from you.

Good sites offer help and sometimes some insurance for legal fees if things go wrong.

You can even try free small-ads sites, such as Le Bon Coin, but be prepared for dodgy emails and chancers contacting you if you do.

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