Finding Estate Agents in France

Finding Estate Agents in France is not always easy. To find an Estate Agent you will need to be a bit of a detective and you will need to be stubborn if you want to get replies.

In many countries, finding an Estate agent is easy. You simply browse the web and send a couple emails and within 30 minutes there are 10 smartly dressed, super keen professionals jangling keys outside your door. They’ll have glossy brochures, cars waiting and plenty of time set aside for all your viewing needs. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot more effort and leg work in France.

As most of you will already know, an Estate Agent in France is known as an ‘Agent Immobilier’.

The shop window of a French Estate agent is an extremely valuable resource, similar to that of a UK agent in the 1980’s. Finding that Estate Agent showcase in France can be a trial.

We noticed walking around many towns, that a significant proportion of agences immobilières hadn’t added themselves to Google Maps. They weren’t on Bing or Michelin. For a UK estate agent this would seriously harm business.

Their details seem to be held so secret they should be called ‘Secret Agent Immoblier‘. It seemed like you needed to be invited to the ‘high table’ to gain vital contact information.

Finding Estate Agent Contact Details

Finding an estate agents contact details should be easy right?

You should be able to go to their website, grab an email, a mobile and book an online appointment right?

A significant percentage of Estate Agents won’t openly publish phone numbers, email addresses or even an office address. Strangely, they won’t show on websites or on Map sites.

When phone numbers are given they are often mobile or freephone numbers so you can’t even work out which region of the country the agency is based.

You will need to be a sleuth and follow social media profiles.

Sometimes emails and phone numbers are only shown on the adverts for individual houses and not on the contact page.

Many agences immobilières will advertise on third party websites. Although many now give this method priority over their own company website, be careful as others may not be updated for months, if not years. These third party websites hide the Estate agents address and contact info.

When third party sites advertise a house, you can see it is via by a known agency. However, that agency may have several offices in a region and the house you are interested in is not listed on any of their websites. This is when you need to either phone or turn to their social media profiles to scavenge a phone number.

Often after much research, you can still be left with indistinct details on your agent. For many this isn’t a problem. If you prefer face to face conversations, as opposed virtual tours when spending your life savings; maybe it is. If you are using unfamiliar buying practices; in a second language; confidence in your agent is paramount.

Choose The Area Where You Wish To Live

You will need to open a spreadsheet. We used MsExcel but other alternatives are available.

Open up Google Maps and type and phrase similar to ‘estate agents near Bretagne, France’. This will give you a list of agencies and their websites. Don’t forget to click through to the extra pages!

Enter all those websites into your spreadsheet. Take down the website and the address. Double check everything.

Unfortunately, you are not finished as quite a few of these business will no longer be trading. Numerous of these businesses are actually agents working from home and are just markers floating in clouds, which isn’t necessarily a problem but isn’t ideal.

We generated a list of nearly 1,200 agences immobilières down the west coast of France. We contacted hundreds of them via email with our requirements and yet received just 2 rather blunt and unprofessional replies. Some of them we contacted multiple times; in French; but never had replies. To initiate communication, you’ll need to pick up the telephone.

Our MsExcel list of French Estate Agents:

There are literally countless reasons for moving to France, however I’ve been programming since doing an Msc in the early 80’s, so I’m somewhat qualified to say, IT isn’t France’s strong point and probably lags behind the UK by a good 15 years. In the UK I would write software called ‘scrapers’ to automate the extraction of emails and phone numbers from the thousands of websites, but due the very poor quality code on French websites, I had to do it all manually.

We also extracted estate agent information from Sat Navs, added them to the list whilst browsing third party sites and others whilst walking and driving around France.

Contacting a French Estate Agent

Unbelievably, a large percentage of agents do not publish any significant form contact information such as email or telephone number on their website. They seem extremely guarded on the location of their offices. Any addresses given on websites are often vague and Google Map markers seemed deliberately misplaced on local landmarks.

However, if you follow links to their social media sites such as Facebook you often find email and telephone numbers on there. There may also be better more accurate map information.

Do not expect an answer from an email written in English. Especially if you are looking to buy months in advance. The email has the be in French and it has to be about a specific property (include a reference number). Keep it concise!

I found Web Contact forms close to useless. Vendors list good houses with several estate agents, so shop around. Check all the agents and check all of those agents social media links for every possible contact method. You are looking for that all important phone number. “Excuse moi, Tu Parles Anglais?

You need to be ready to buy and not a time waster. You need to have proof your finances are sorted in advance. If you are casually asking questions you will not get replies.

Using email to contact an Agent Immoblier in France is very unreliable. If you want to talk to an agent about viewing a property, the only sure way is to pick up the phone and if you can, speak French.

You can’t treat French Estate Agents like UK ones, you need to wind back your contact strategy 25 years, loose the video whatsapp, drop the email and ‘parle français‘. If you don’t, that house you want is gone.

French Estate Agent Website

The French company website is a much neglected resource. French estate agents seem to prefer such resources as Facebook and third party resources like Leboncoin, Leggett etc. Often the photos are poor quality and info is sparse.

Normally, you would take the information on a agency website as being up to date and complete. However, we found a much different situation almost across the board.

Always check the French and English translations and always head straight to the Social Media links to see if you can extract more info there; you’re looking for anything!

You often find different email addresses on the French sites to UK equivalents and always CC in both when sending your first contact.

These days most websites are written using free, high quality content management systems (CMS), there are literally millions of free templates and hundreds of plugins aimed specifically at Estate Agents. These CMS’s would allow an agent to walk around a house, take Hi-res photos, whilst typing a quick write-up on his phone and post it in seconds on the road. So the reason the French choose to have such poor websites must be a conscious and deliberate one.

Having said that, COVID lockdown and the whole work from home regime has seen an utterly amazing wave of websites being updated; on a scale I’ve never witnessed before, so maybe in a few years they’ll catch the UK up.

There are also companies that offer paid systems that connect directly with third party sites like rightmove and various finance checking apps etc. I worked at a solicitors writing house moving software for 5 years, nowadays it’s commonplace. Everything can be automated down to multiple choice and check boxes with virtually no notaire involvement.

Third Party Sites

Many French estate agents neglect there own company website and advertise mainly on Social Media platform such as Facebook Marketplace and on third party websites such as the following:

If an Agent has a separate UK website, it pays to check the French one as well as often there are different houses advertised on there.

I found the above list to be my lunchtime ‘go to’ quick check sites. In the end we didn’t buy through any, but we did visit numerous houses through these websites.

In the UK, information on third party sites are often used as a ‘teaser’ to funnel you back to the company website where the really good info on a property is held. In France it is the reverse. Third party sites often have case handlers that will at least acknowledge receipt of an enquiry and will give you updates on property events.

Social Media Profiles

Remember, the popular properties move very quickly and will have offers accepted within days of being on the market. Often these properties will not make it onto the agent immoblier’s own website. They will however show up on their social media sites.

It is worth following profiles whenever you find them. It is easy to unfollow a social media profile, but unsubscribing from a e-mail mailing list, can be nigh on impossible.

Social media profiles often show better address info. They give details of the agents that work in the office, along with not just the general ‘front door’ email address but the email addresses of all employees. You can get multiple phone numbers and mobiles.

The Social Media sites often give links to video walk throughs, extra hi-res photos and more.

There are video tutorials, online chats and other things to get involved with.

When you sign up for e-mail mailing lists, usually you get a couple properties at a time. However, if you were to actually to visit most of those websites, or social media profiles you would see numerous more properties that didn’t make your prized email update.

Double Check That Agent Is Actually Where You Think It Is

If you are planning on visiting an Agent Immoblier; as we did; it is worth checking the address published on the websites. We found countless addresses given were overly brief. In the UK, a postcode; even in a rural area; will locate you to within a 100m or so of your destination. In France, you could be a good 30 minutes drive from where you needed to be. Use Google Street View to double check that the marker has been placed correctly and then use the latitude and longitude and not the address in your ‘sat nav’. You may also gain extra info such as building numbers and road names by doing this.

Often, if you have come through a third party site such as or etc then you might not even know the name of the Estate agent you are meeting or the company they work for. You will be given almost secret spy like details similar to ‘the agent immoblier opposite the church in the market square’. That agent immoblier might not have a shop front, they might just have a 5cm square brass plaque next to a door! (true story – There were 2 churches on the square and 3 agences immobilières, plus they were 2 hours late)

Why Do I Need Confidence In My Agent Immobilier?

Unlike in the UK, the estate agent doesn’t just sell houses. In theory the whole house buying process in France should be simpler with a fraction of the number of surveys down on a house. However, the agent immoblier in many cases takes over the role a solicitor would do in the UK. House buying in France, although in theory simple can take months longer than the UK, especially when mortgages are involved.

The agent immoblier is responsible for:

  • Checking and copying all identities (passports, birth certificates, marriage documents etc)
  • Checking financial documents
  • Collating all building reports
  • Corresponding with builders and surveyors
  • Generating the Compromis de Vente
  • Corresponding with the notaire
  • Generating the Acte Authentique De Vente

Why are Agences Immobilières Days So Busy?

Unlike our British Estate agent that are basically glorified salesmen, agences immobilières take over much of the role of a solicitor or ‘notaire’. A British estate agent wouldn’t last a week as an agent immoblier!

A competent agent immoblier will write and customise the ‘Comprimis de Vente’.

Before the ‘Comprimis de Vente’ can start, there will need to be several building surveys. The agent organises these, checks and copies the reports and get them signed off by all parties.

Agences Immobilières also offer get involved with opening bank accounts, funding and financial advice. They will also arrange international currency transfers.

They can advice and help with opening French bank accounts.

They offer many other services such as the removal of furniture for the vendor and international furniture transportation for the buyer. They can help with visas, wills and many other services beyond.

Once the final Acte Authentique De Vente has been signed they will help with the connection of services like electricity and telephone.

A competent agent will take the time to sit down and explain the whole legal process to you step by step. They will have documents or video tutorials on their website or social media site helping you with the whole moving process.

A couple agences immobilières are now offering services such as virtual video tours and video conferencing. The quality of photos of websites is slowly improving too – don’t hold your breath on these services though.

You need to remember that many of these agents are ‘lone operators’. They will be out of the office many hours of the day viewing properties. Therefore, the answerphone will be on. They can’t answer emails instantly. Their websites are often very poor quality and therefore prone to spam emails.

France is a big country and houses are miles apart, so agents spend a lot of time driving. Mobile signals aren’t great in rural areas, with 5G a rarity. Therefore, any moments in the office will be spent filtering out spam and translating badly typed emails from us illiterate Brits .

Please be patient!


We met dozens of agents in person and they were all absolutely lovely us. However, many were late and we were rushed around some properties in under 3 minutes. We were left with no printed info and were often abandoned in unfamiliar towns, only to realise we didn’t even get a name or mobile number. One even forgot the keys, apologised and left without even telling which village the target house was located in!

In the end we were incredibly lucky and found not just a really impressive agent but a lovely house. We put the offer in on that house on the first visit and subsequently extra adjoining land. We changed to UK wills, bought extra furniture and all this during a COVID lockdown. Luckily, the vendor survived a heart attack but everything else went without a hitch.

Other agents would not return emails, their answer phone was on 24/7 and they were often ‘short’ with us when we asked questions. We found a lovely house on several third party websites and repeatedly contacted that agent with no reply. It wasn’t until an international phone call was finally answered that we found out the property had sold 5 years previous.

The French house buying process is completely different to that of the UK. If this is your first French house purchase and you haven’t done your research then if you haven’t got 100% confidence in your agent immoblier, your purchase is going to be extremely stressful.