So you’re about to buy a house in France – or sell one –, and you’re there, staring in awe at the multitude of free solutions offered on the Internet. From the biggest actors on the market, some of them making millions of daily connections, to the smallest, personal websites that offer just one house or apartment, there is much to choose from when it comes to offering or searching for real estate in France. But despite this profusion of “zero Euro” offers, there are numerous services that demand a fee to connect buyers to sellers, or landlords to tenants. In this context, where most services are free, what is the interest of paying?
Firstly, if there is something to paying for a service, the fee remains very reasonable in comparison to the price of the properties offered. For example, Immogo proposes two different options for advertising houses in France for sale by the owner: one at 99€ for one year of on-line advertising; the other one, unlimited, for one percent of the final price of the sale once it’s completed (but only if the buyer actually came through Immogo!). If, in the first case, there is a risk of paying “for nothing”, , with the second option, if the final price is indeed more important, it remains much more affordable than professional commissions from real estate agents, that start at 4 %.
This being said, what are the real advantages of such an offer over its free competitors? Well, lastly in France, there’s been quite an uprising in cases of scams. From the traditional “Nigerian” scams that consist in asking for payment over an imaginary toll tax, in order to liberate goods that will never show up, things have evolved to a new form of organized crime, with for example a recent series of cases in which auto sellers were hijacked in numerous places of France. To know that the seller invested a minimal fee in order to sell their goods on-line is a pro that backs up their seriousness and implication and, as a consequence, the safety of the transaction.
Also, let’s note that free solutions are only free if you’re OK with a very minimal service. Should you want add a few extra pictures, a title in bold characters, some fluorescent colors here and a few days of first-page presence there, you’ll soon see that from the “zero Euro” originally promised, the extra pricing will tend to scale up to match their classic, fee-based counterparts. And in the end, how would you expect to stand out in such a constellation of more or less similar offers, all accompanied by a very small number of generally not-so-glamorous pictures?
Even for a simple rental, the idea that a landlord would not spend a few cents in a bunch of extra photos in order to, say, save a useless visit to a real estate property that doesn’t meet your requirements, might come as a turn-off. Seeing how complex it is to fulfill a candidate file nowadays in France, and how landlords have become more and more demanding, it seems quite logical to expect them, in return, to make a little effort.
So, for these four main reasons – low price, safety, visibility and seriousness – we can say that on-line real estate services that require a small fee in exchange for a professional-level service still can make a difference!