One the main challenges for buyers, is that there is no quick and easy way of finding the house you want, or the information you really need. Other countries have 1 dominant real estate portal like rightmove in the UK or a single database for properties like MLS in the US, but we don't have this in France.
Going on the Internet, you will have to Google your way across all the information out there, spending many hours before you get hold of the few nuggets of useful information.
Also if you speak to professionals, they are often “caught up” by their business model, of pushing their small selection of properties rather than really listening to your needs.
So why can’t one website bring you all those useful items together, put the buyers needs first and streamline the whole process of finding and buying a house so that everyone saves time ?
This is the aim of the Smartfinder website – to provide you, the buyer all the support you need, collecting those nuggets of useful information, and advisory services for the buyer’s journey, and with a lean business model that puts your interest as a buyer first.
How do I start my house search?
We recommend that you first look at Property Portals with the widest choice, for an area the size of 1 department, like the Var. This way you will quickly get a feel of the available choice of houses for a given budget in terms of size, style whether you want a villa or an older property and location in terms of distance from the coast or attractive resorts & villages.
This is why we have shortlisted the top sites for choice in the Var, on the homepage and under our Portal listings. If you have little time, we suggest you focus on the big sites that we have rated as easy to use with 3 stars – check the Quality listing of Portal sites too, to focus your search.
If you have difficulty navigating a site in French, you can check the English language sites, but you will find the selection of properties to be much smaller, and in some cases the descriptions are still in French.
Next step - refining my house search and sharing my needs with agencies or Smart Finder Home?
Once you have a better idea of the type of house and approximate location, you should be able to set out a set of minimum requirements, your “must haves” – you need at least 3 bedrooms, not further than 10 km from a town, half an hour from the sea, a view etc… When you do this, it is worth noting how flexible you are in terms of taking on renovation work or house extensions or adding a swimming pool and share your overall budget. The clearer are your needs, the more time you will save in your house search.
Also you need to decide the area you want settle in, country setting or willing to pay more to be close to the coast, time to reach an airport, etc... No matter what you find on the Internet, you have to visit the area and spend time locally to get an idea what the towns and surroundings are like.
Now when your needs are clear, you can really start selecting properties, and go back on the Internet, check both property portals or agency websites in the 2-3 towns/communes you have selected. We will be compiling a listing of all agency websites in the Var, to enable you to better focus your search and save time. We will also be providing you tools to save and compare your selection of properties, whatever the website you found the property on.
Then when you are ready to contact agencies, think first if you would like to use our 2 unique services to speed up and support your search:
- Smartfinder’s Unique Property Search Form enables you to email your request to all the agencies within the area you have selected. This will save you time, avoid you from having to repeat your needs to every agent, and is far more efficient than contacting each agency one by one. This service is totally free and has no hidden costs. The replies of the agencies will be forwarded onto you.
- Smartfinder Dedicated House Hunter mandate, or “mandat de recherche” in French, is a service to shortlist properties and setup visits, removing the trouble for you of interacting with dozens of agencies, as we act as your single point of contact, representing your interests. We can deal with the whole market, as we are not tied to a specific agency or a portfolio of properties, and that includes private sales too. We will pass on details of the shortlist to you and why we think they are of interest and also share a summary list of the properties we have filtered out and why. We can also be present when you visit the houses or when you are in the crucial steps of signing the “compromis de vente” and “acte de vente”, protecting your interests.
There is no additional cost in using a house hunter or as French say “Chasseur immobilier” over the use an agency, as we are paid out of the commission of the agency. The only case where there is a cost is when the house sale is done without an agency in a private sale – in this case Smartfinder Var’s commission is 2% of the sales price.
Can I use Smart Finder Home services if I have already started contacting agencies ?
Yes, as long as you have noted which agencies you have contacted and when, and share this with us. The reason we need to know this, is to respect any prior agreements you have entered into or visits you have done, and avoid presenting you the same properties you have already seen.