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Hello forum members,
Advice greatly appreciated. My husband and I are looking for a house to rent in Provence (around Aix).
We find lots of houses we are interested in at leboncoin.fr = great BUT: The people at the other end of the ads (often real estate agents, sometimes the owner of the house) are very difficult to get hold of.
If a phone number is provided, they often don't pick up and we get a voicemail stating the opening hours (which we call during...). If they do pick up, the right person to talk to is not there/does not have relevant info but will call us back. Which he/she doesn't.
If we email, we never receive a single reply. EVER.
Meanwhile, the house ads are still displayed at leboncoin.fr, so it appears they have not been rented out.

This is our MO when contacting people about renting:
My French-speaking husband contacts the person or agency listed in the ad, tells them that we a Swedish family looking for a place to live for two years, and that we are interested in house so-and-so. He asks about equipment in the kitchen (good to know what's there), and size of garden if not stated in the ad. He asks if one of his colleagues can come and look at the house (since we still live in Sweden). That's about it. If this is sent in an email, there is no reply. If communicated by phone, the person will call us back but doesn't.

So what is the problem? My husband speaks excellent French so there is no scary English involved for them ;-), but he is from Sweden (like me). Do French people don't like foreigners?

Is there some cultural thing we are missing? Do we physically have to be there to be taken seriously? How does the French mind work? (Rather big question that last one...)

What to do to get hold of a house by January??? We´re getting worried...
/Christine
 

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As you have found out, rental agents (and immobiliers in general) don't seem to respond at all to e-mail.

Most rental transactions seem to be done in person here, so you might have better luck if you could arrange to make a short house-hunting trip and book several appointments to see the homes that you're interested in. There is something of a housing shortage (chronic) here in France, and people are often ready to write a check to secure a desirable location on the spot. Something that your colleague won't be able to do for you.

Coming from outside France, too, you may need to show that you have a local bank account from which the landlord can "préleve" the monthly rent.

The other option is to arrange for temporary accommodation for the first 3 or 4 weeks you are in France so you can do your house hunting in person (and get a bank account set up).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hello forum members,
Advice greatly appreciated. My husband and I are looking for a house to rent in Provence (around Aix).
We find lots of houses we are interested in at leboncoin.fr = great BUT: The people at the other end of the ads (often real estate agents, sometimes the owner of the house) are very difficult to get hold of.
If a phone number is provided, they often don't pick up and we get a voicemail stating the opening hours (which we call during...). If they do pick up, the right person to talk to is not there/does not have relevant info but will call us back. Which he/she doesn't.
If we email, we never receive a single reply. EVER.
Meanwhile, the house ads are still displayed at leboncoin.fr, so it appears they have not been rented out.

This is our MO when contacting people about renting:
My French-speaking husband contacts the person or agency listed in the ad, tells them that we a Swedish family looking for a place to live for two years, and that we are interested in house so-and-so. He asks about equipment in the kitchen (good to know what's there), and size of garden if not stated in the ad. He asks if one of his colleagues can come and look at the house (since we still live in Sweden). That's about it. If this is sent in an email, there is no reply. If communicated by phone, the person will call us back but doesn't.

So what is the problem? My husband speaks excellent French so there is no scary English involved for them ;-), but he is from Sweden (like me). Do French people don't like foreigners?

Is there some cultural thing we are missing? Do we physically have to be there to be taken seriously? How does the French mind work? (Rather big question that last one...)

What to do to get hold of a house by January??? We´re getting worried...
/Christine
I agree with Bev's post .

My own experience was the same on three occasions but on arrival in person I always managed to find somewhere on day one, though it was always looking for standard two/three bed places, in nice suburban(ish) areas. Could be trickier if you seek something rural or different to the norm.

You'll find it very difficult to rent from anyone over the 'phone, you have to be there. Estate agents especially want/need to make a judgement as to whether to recommend you or not, they see their clients as a long term commitment and will be looking for the repeat business after you are gone . That judgement will be largely based on appearances and how you come across + how your dossier looks.
By dossier I mean proof of income, bank account, deposit availability etc. I never needed references on any occasion, employment contract and payslip took care of that.

Suggest you book an aparthotel for a week or two, then at least you have a chance to have a look at the areas day and night. If you view empty properties, there's every possibility you get in within a couple of days. French estate agent ads are often like the UK ones and some descriptions can be misleading, best to have a look at the real thing yourself before making a deal.

Best of luck
 

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I agree with the suggestion of being there in person to find accommodation. Earlier this year we moved from the north of france to the east and also trying to find accommodation was a nightmare.As the moving date got closer, we were getting more worried. Eventually we booked ourselves holiday accommodation for the first month and once we arrived in the village, we let everyone know we needed accommodation. We found a place to live for 3 months by chance (my daughter made friends with some kids whose grandma was willing to help us out....angels walk among us) Its only now after living here for 4 months that we found more something more permanent and suitable for our family.Hubby went to visit the estate agent 3 times a week to keep reminding them. It is definitely much easier once you are there in person.good luck!!
 
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