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Buying agent vs. personal search: Which method is best for you?



Property hunter vs. personal search


It's logical to ask yourself the question of hiring a property expert to find your property. The stakes are high and there are many advantages to being accompanied by a property hunter, but it's not necessarily suitable for everyone. In some cases, it's better to continue searching on your own. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to identify the best approach for finding your home to suit your needs:


How long have you been looking for your home ?


This is perhaps the first question I ask people who call on my services. If you've been looking for several months, you may not be spending enough time on it.


How much time do you spend looking for your home?


House hunting is a real project, and not just a financial one. It's even a full-time job for some people 🙂 Between selecting ads, calling sellers, listing with agencies, visits, etc... you need to devote a certain amount of time if you want to find the house of your dreams. Some people say you need 2 hours a day (not including visits) to search effectively for your property.


If you have this amount of time, and if you enjoy filtering ads, don't delegate this task. As a property hunter only works on an exclusive basis, many prospective buyers can't imagine taking a back seat and no longer looking at the ads.


Are you in a hurry to buy?


Even if it's a pleasure for you, the passing months can also bring you closer to a deadline: a birth, a move... If this is the case, a property hunter is the best option for speeding up your search because, by definition, they are constantly on the lookout and know all the players in the property market. For example, it took me an average of 45 days to find the property I was looking for in 2023.


Are there many ads that match your search?


Yes: your search is consistent in terms of budget and type of property. If you have the time (see above), you can sort through the listings and select according to the additional information provided by the agent. You can find your dream home without the help of a property hunter.


On the other hand, if you've registered your search on as many platforms as possible, you won't receive many alerts and they'll never match your needs. This can be explained by :


Your specifications don't match the reality of the market


Either you can align your budget or review certain criteria (the 2 hectares of land in the centre of town, for example 😅 ), or both. In this case, you don't necessarily need the help of a property hunter to continue your search. If you don't know what's wrong, a property hunter will help you sort it out and gain a better understanding of the market. They know their region and what sells there. You can review your criteria together and focus on the most important ones.


The house you're looking for is an exceptional property.


This means that there aren't many of them around, so you'll need to be patient and highly responsive the day they go on sale. Because of their rarity, these houses are generally sold off-market, and therefore never advertised on traditional platforms. To make sure you don't miss out, you'll also need to have developed a property network that will think of you when the time comes. If you have these 3 things: patience, a network and responsiveness, you can find your exceptional home on your own.


If you have any doubts, a property hunter will provide you with these 3 elements. By working regularly with real estate agents in the region, they give you full and privileged access to the market (off-market houses and those marketed as previews) and they'll be quick to visit them. Finally, thanks to his experience and expertise, he will be able to advise you on whether or not to make the best offer.


Do you know how to negotiate a property?


This stage is seen as the most important because, given the financial effort involved, you want to be sure of getting the best possible price. But when you've finally found the house of your dreams, you don't want to let it slip through your fingers for being too greedy.


First and foremost, you need to know the market so that you can value the property as accurately as possible. After that, it's a balancing act, because if you negotiate too aggressively, you could miss out on the house, and if your offer is too high, you'll lose money. And when you position yourself at the right price, as others do, you have to know how to defend your case to be the lucky one.


If you have a perfect knowledge of the market and have mastered the art of negotiation, you can continue your search without help.


On the other hand, if you're not sure of the exact price of the house of your dreams, and you're worried that it might slip through your fingers, the help of a property expert will be invaluable: his or her knowledge of the market and experience will enable you to make the fairest offer. Their tools and expertise will enable them to identify the room for manoeuvre and negotiate the best deal (marketing time, number of agencies, potential buyers, etc.). Finally, as they only work with qualified buyers, they will naturally reinforce the seriousness of your case with sellers.


Do you know what's involved in buying your own home?


Buying a house outside the big cities requires a great deal of knowledge to avoid unpleasant surprises once you've settled in. You need to know the region and the specific features of the houses.


How does the region live all year round?


Depending on the type of property you are planning (primary or secondary residence), the towns you target will be different. If you're used to the region and its summer and winter atmosphere, if you know where the schools are and how to get to them, if you're familiar with the PLU (Plan Local d'Urbanisme) and if you know the noisy roads, you probably don't need a property hunter to help you find your home.


On the other hand, if you only know the area through its monuments and restaurants, it would be wise to have an expert 'local' eye. That's one of the main advantages of using a property hunter: he or she knows the area, its rumours, its politics and its development plans.


What are the specifics of buying a house?


The issues involved in buying a house are very different from those involved in buying a flat or even some village houses, and there is no co-owners' association to help you. In Provence, for example, access to drinking water needs to be carefully considered, as it will have an impact on your daily life.


If this is not your first house purchase, and you have already been confronted with the issues of sewers, easements, roofing, etc., then the expertise of a professional will be of no more use to you than that.

If you still have questions of this kind every time you visit, you should seek the advice of a property hunter (who is legally obliged to provide you with all the information you need to make a good purchase). You can also take advantage of their network of tradespeople to look at potential work.


A property hunter can help you finding your second home


Finding the house of your dreams is a real job, and it's important to find the best method for you: be accompanied by a property hunter or continue your search on your own.

If you want to do the house-hunting yourself, you need to have a thorough knowledge of the market and a well-developed local network. You'll save yourself the fees of a house-hunter, but you'll need to be able to devote the necessary time to it and know how to negotiate the nugget you find.

As well as saving a significant amount of time by working with a property hunter, you'll be relieved of the stress associated with the search. You'll have access to professional expertise and a network to support your personalised search. You benefit from privileged access to the off-market, expertise in avoiding common pitfalls and optimised negotiation for a fair price. With a property hunter, you invest in a calm and successful buying experience.


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