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How do I start my Paris real estate search? Is there an MLS or other database of Paris apartments for sale?

paris birdseye view

The short answer: No.

The fragmented French market can make that a formidable task.  The French real estate market does not operate through a Multiple Listing System, or MLS, with agents sharing all the listings of available properties (this is the system in most US markets).  Rather, individual agencies only list their own properties.  They can’t and won’t show you properties listed elsewhere, though sometimes properties are listed with more than one agency – which makes for even quicker sale, before you have a chance to make your move.

There are also a number of listing sites in France, each with their own property ads, each with their own search capabilities. Some agencies list on all of them, or one of them, or none of them, depending on how they choose to market the individual property. Many properties change hands without ever being publicly listed; may sellers choose not to work with agents at all.

Buyers intent on doing a comprehensive search must contact one agency after another, leaving their contact information and hoping for the best.  Should you happen to walk in at the right time, you might be in luck.  Good properties sell quickly, competition among buyers is fierce and agencies have no real incentive to maintain a relationship with you as a buyer.

Furthermore, France has the biggest private seller market in Europe: nearly half of the properties change hands without the use of a real estate agent.  So even if you had first access to the properties listed in the 3500 real estate agencies in Paris, you would still not see all the properties on the market.

For a fairly good overview of what’s available on the market, there are a handful of major French-language listing sites worth a look. Some will have the same listings as others, either with the same agent or a different one; but they are all worth consulting for the most comprehensive view of what’s on the market: (for sale by owner listings)


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