Real estate agencies: their role

Real estate sale, purchase or rental… The real estate agency is a key intermediary in the real estate market. Here is its scope of action.

The objective of real estate agencies is to put people who are looking for a property to buy or rent in touch with those who have properties available for sale or for rent. They therefore play the role of intermediary. They can be brought to take care of a transaction, to look for an accommodation for someone, to recruit a tenant for a landlord, to organize visits… They can also manage the day-to-day problems of landlords and tenants by acting as an intermediary. And more generally represent and assist both parties.

Who can be a real estate agent?

The profession of real estate agent is highly regulated. It is only accessible to people holding a professional card allowing them to carry out real estate transactions and/or property management. Its issuance is based on the validation of professional skills (accounting, management…), the existence of financial guarantees and the subscription to a civil liability insurance.

How much do the services of a real estate agency cost?

In return for the time saved in the search for accommodation, the management of the transaction or the selection of the tenant, you must pay agency fees. For the sale or rental of a property, the real estate agent receives a percentage of the value of the property or the rent when the notarial deed or rental lease is signed. In other words, he is remunerated according to the result. Unlike notary fees, which are strictly regulated, agency fees are freely set. They can therefore be negotiated between the owner of a property and the agency. These fees are generally set at a rate of between 5 and 10% of the price of the property, in the case of a sale. This percentage is always announced by the agency before the start of the service. For rental management, the services can be invoiced on a flat-rate basis.

What documents or information can a real estate agency request?

With the housing shortage and the economic crisis which can lead to an increase in unpaid rents, agencies sometimes take advantage of this to ask the future tenant for supporting documents which are not obligatory or which do not need to be communicated. For example, they may not require a photo, statements of account or proof of good account keeping, a copy of the social security card, etc. The Alur law of 2015 established the list of documents that can be requested to apply for a rental. This list is exhaustive and is set by Decree No. 2015-1437 of 5 November 2015.

Can a real estate agency ask to sign a reservation contract?

No. You do not need to sign a reservation contract. It is a procedure that agencies sometimes ask potential tenants to sign and which requires the payment of a sum of money. This sum will often not be returned if the deal is not finally concluded.

Is a list seller a real estate agent?

No. These are two different professions. A list seller is not obliged to find housing for their clients, but simply to help them. There are few guarantees that they will actually find accommodation. Sometimes, the lists sold only give the address of accommodation that has already been rented. Indeed, access to the list of properties is subject to a charge. In short, you pay before you use. With a real estate agent, it is the opposite. As long as you haven’t found it, you don’t pay. This explains the price difference between a list seller and a real estate agent.