7 June 2002

Use an agent and take care with choice

BECAUSE of the complexities and language barriers involved when buying a French farm, most potential purchasers use the services of an agent to smooth the process.

A number of specialist bilingual firms advertise on the internet or in the classified section of FARMERS WEEKLY, but care should be taken when choosing an agent, says one farmer who made the move to France in the 1990s.

Philip Bache, who runs a sheep and free range poultry unit between Aubusson and Limoges in the Creuse region, recommends using a local French agent who speaks English. "They will show you farms without charging you. There is a lot that can go wrong with buying a farm and I think youre more likely to get a good deal with them."

However, David Wilson, although conceding not everybody knows their stuff, says using a British agent has its advantages. "We have our compatriots interests at heart. I dont take a commission but charge a flat fee." Word of mouth is the best recommendation, he adds.