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Vicki Meddows-Smith, the founder of V J Property Search  has had a home in the Cognac area for nearly 20 years.  She is a licensed French estate agent, with a degree in French and the appropriate professional liability insurance. After running a local agency some years ago she is now putting her expertise and local knowledge to good use by helping overseas clients find their own dream property in the area.


Sellers reports

Prior to sale the vendor is obliged to carry out certain diagnostic reports.  These vary according to the Département but would typically include energy consumption, electrical and gas installations, termites, lead paint and asbestos, amongst others.

Marketing and Viewings
The estate agent, Immobilier, will agree a net vendor price for the property with the seller, add their commission and start marketing the property through various channels. Viewings would then normally be conducted by the agent who should answer any questions.


Offer and Price

 Once you find a property that suits an offer is made to the seller and if accepted the transaction process begins.  If working with an agent the advertised price will include the agency fees (typically 4% - 6%).  In addition the buyer will have to pay the notaire's fee which includes the relevant taxes.  The scale of notaire's charges can be checked here



This is the first stage of the purchase and until the compromis is signed there is no deal..  The compromis includes the details of the property, the buyer, the seller, the price and any special clauses.  The buyer then has a 10 deal cooling off period when he/she has the right to pull out.  After the 10 days the deal is confirmed and neither party can withdraw.  The buyer is often asked for a deposit which is held by the notaire.

Acte de Vente (act of sale)

The notaire is an independent official who collates all the paperwork in order to carry out the sale.  He/she then fixes a date for the act of sale which is attended by both parties for the final signature.  All financial operations are conducted through the notaire's office.


The property market in France has its quirks, as in any country, and I want to arm the buyer with a knowledge of how it works and help you to navigate your way through them.

Commission - Who Pays?

The price that the buyer pays on a property purchase has two components - the amount that goes to the vendor and the amount that goes to the estate agency in commission.  Whether this is added on to a net vendor price or taken off a global price it amounts to the same overall cost..  However in France usually the agent agrees a net vendor price and then adds on a commission before marketing the property.  This means that sometimes buyers try to seek out the house and do a deal direct with the vendor and avoid the commission.  So the agencies will not reveal the exact location of the property in their marketing and will even try to disguise its location in the photos taken.

Multi Agencies

In France it is quite standard for a vendor to list with several agencies.  This is another reason for an agent to try to hide the location of a property, in order to prevent other agencies listing it.  Sometimes this multi listing practice results in a race to the finish line on a desirable property.  Sometimes an agent will still be listing a property that has been sold by another agent because the vendor has not informed them of the sale.  In addition - commission rates vary so you may well see the property listed at different prices.   It can also happen that a client is taken to see a property that he/she has already seen with another agent as the photos were different and not recognisable.  This is a huge waste of time for buyers with limited time for their visit which I will help you avoid.

The Agent Commercial

Most agencies have few employed personnel - they use the status of Agent Commercial for their sales staff who are paid purely on commission.  An agent commercial will earn a certain percentage for taking on the listing of a property that is then sold by a colleague. .  Likewise he/she will earn a commission for a property that he/she sells.  In the case of both listing a property and then selling it the commission rate is substantially higher.  This means that the agent commercial has more incentive to sell the properties that he/she has taken on and, in some cases, this is to the detriment of the buyer who does not get shown the full portfolio of properties.  By working with different agencies, notaires and private vendors I can offer you access to a full range of properties.

Internet Agencies

There are still many traditional agencies with a high street presence who are firmly implanted in the local area.  However, as everywhere, there is a huge growth in Internet agencies who can have several thousand individual agents   This can mean that in any given location a buyer needs to speak to several different people to get the full range of properties in the target area, rather than the convenience of one office. This is where I can help by providing a single point of contact for your search


30_ Cognac la ville _ Maison pan de bois  ©Destination Cognac.JPG


5_ 2017. Charente le fleuve. Jarnac. ©Destination Cognac.jpg

I do the research and the leg work for you

Outline requirements 

The first step is to complete a form with your outline requirements.  We will then arrange either a Zoom call or face to face meeting to gather more details and refine your request.

Exclusive Search Mandate

If you decide to use V J Property Search I ask you to sign an exclusive search mandate authorising me to research on your behalf.


The Search

Using local knowledge I will seek out properties for you, working with local agencies, notaires and sometimes vendors who wish to sell privately. I will recap with you periodically in an online meeting.


I will draw up a short list of properties for you to come and view.  I will then organise a programme to look at various properties that fit your criteria and liaise with the agents concerned.

The Purchase

If you decide to purchase one of the properties we have viewed I will then assist you every step of the way as outlined in the purchase process above

How Much Does it Cost?

Property finders are governed by the loi Hoquet which is the same law by which estate agencies are bound.  This means that we are not allowed to take any up front fee but only a commission based on the eventual sale price of the property.


This is on the following scale based on sale price (excluding notaire's fees and agency fees)

Up to €200,000                   fixed fee of €6,000

€200,000 - €600,000.           3%

€601,000 - €1,000,000.        2.8%     

€1,000,001 - €2,000,000.     2,4%

Above €2,000,001.              2%


A Single Point of Contact

Instead of having to deal with numerous entities you will have one point of contact to answer your questions and find properties relevant to your search.

Someone Working Just for You

My role is to work specifically for you - to help you find your dream home.  I have no vested interest in selling a particular property, only in finding the right one for you. In addition you will have someone to hold your hand and share the benefit of several years of life in France.

Save Time and Money

Finding a property even in your home country can be very time consuming.  Add to that the complications of looking in a foreign country in a foreign language with all the expense of several trips to have a look.   Using a property finder will cut that down to a minimum.

A Wide Range of Properties

You will have access to a wide range of properties whilst only having to deal with one person rather than with multiple agencies to get the same result.

Local Knowledge and Language

Having lived in the area for nearly 20 years I can help with an understanding of local customs and life in the Charente.  As a French speaker I can interpret for you during the purchase process.

No Up-Front Cost

There is no up front cost for using a property finder - only a commission on a successful purchase as outlined above.  You have nothing to lose - if no suitable property is found it costs you nothing and if it is - then you will have the home you have been looking for.  You will have saved time, money and energy in the search.

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