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CEO Comments November 3, 2023

UK agents work on one of the lowest commission rates in the world

In the latest episode of season three of The Home Stretch podcast, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, Iain McKenzie, speaks to Alice Watson-Smith, Managing Director of Fine & Country French Riviera about the prime property sector in France and how it differs to the UK market.



Growing up in Zimbabwe, then moving to Cape Town, South Africa where her estate agency career began, Watson-Smith now runs a very successful office in Cannes, working within the prime sector of the market. While there are similarities between Cape Town and the French Riviera, such as great weather, palm trees and beaches, when it comes to the property markets, they couldn’t be further apart. “While the Cape Town sector I worked in was more of a first-home market, the South of France market, specifically on the French Riviera in the upper quartile, is predominantly second-home buyers and investment properties.” she adds.


Speaking about estate agency in France, Watson-Smith says that traditionally the idea of a sole mandate or exclusive instruction is a foreign concept. “In France, most agents work on open/simple mandates, with sellers giving multiple agents the listing, and whichever agency sells first, makes the sale. The seller has their price, and the agent adds the commission on top of that. What that means is a home will be listed at different prices, with different images and different agency details, which can create a mine field, especially for international buyers. It is a system that is changing, particularly in the International marketplace on the French Riviera where we have been successfully increasing our number of exclusive mandates,” Watson-Smith comments. 


She notes that the average commission in France is around 6%, which compared with the UK market sounds astronomical. “In relation to all the other countries we work with as a brand, the UK has one of the lowest commission rates in the world. In South Africa it is around 7%, whereas in Portugal, Spain, Hong Kong and Australia, it is all around 5% to 7%.” says Watson-Smith.  


McKenzie and Watson-Smith go on to discuss several other aspects around estate agency in France, such as regulations, government taxes on home purchases, the sales processes, and the upper quartile of the market, to name a few.


To hear this conversation in full, visit The Home Stretch podcast.

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