Monday, 22 October 2012

A day in the life of Jacqueline Hanks - Property Finder

Having read my colleague Graham’s blog at I remembered this article which was published in the May/June issue of French Entrée magazine this year and thought I would share it with you!
"When my husband and I returned to return to live in France eight years ago and bought our dream home near Bergerac, I had no idea that a few years later I would be extolling the virtues of the Dordogne and spending my time looking for the best properties for sale in my area, yet it is exactly what I do most days.

Being a property finder means ensuring that my international clientele gets to purchase the best properties on the market at realistic prices. Many of them are too far away or too busy to find their dream property. Most have very specific requirements and this is where my knowledge of the area and the market comes into play, enabling me to weed out unsuitable properties and in doing so, save them a lot of wasted effort and money.

Dealing with clients and seeing their reaction when you have found them the perfect place is rewarding - no other job has given me such a sense of achievement. It is a bit like being a matchmaker! Dealing with estate agents and negotiating directly with owners selling privately can be challenging, but is always interesting.

Most mornings I take mon petit déjeuner on the terrace amid beautiful countryside. Then I check and respond to emails and return a few calls before jumping in my cabriolet to view a few promising properties. I love driving around with the roof down!

When I am not viewing properties, I carry out a far less glamorous activity that is going through private sales and property listings on the internet. This is where you need a lot of patience... I must browse thousands for each search.

 I am just finishing a search for Australian clients who will be arriving in a couple of weeks. Since I have just learned that one of the houses I had selected for them has been sold, I am visiting another couple this morning. I would like to show them at least six. So, I am meeting Pierre in his office in Eymet at 9am where we can review the details of the first property we are to visit and grab a quick coffee before heading to Miramont de Guyenne where it is situated.

On paper, this property fits the brief well and is within the €450,000 budget my clients have to spend. As soon as we arrive though, I know the house will not make my final six. It is too close to the road and although my clients want to be in or near a village, they also want privacy and quiet and this will not do.

Disappointed, we move on to the next house I have arranged to visit. The property is on the edge of a small village and as soon as I walk in, I realize that this could be the one! The location is perfect, the pool at the back has wonderful views and the house itself is charming and definitely worth recommending.

Delighted to have found another possible, I hurry back to Bergerac. I have enough time to check my emails again and have something to eat before a meeting this afternoon with one of my estate agent contacts. Hubert wants to show me a great house (two in fact) that some of his friends - a wife and husband team - are in the process of renovating. She is an interior decorator and he has a building company. The houses could be sold separately or together to create a gîte complex. The properties are not on the market yet and since the owner is a friend, Hubert will charge a lower agency fee. He wants to show them to me because he knows they would appeal to the type of clientele I work with.

When I get there, I am bowled over, even though it is raining. Hubert didn’t exaggerate! The properties are in a great location, hidden behind a small wood, on a huge plot, beautiful and amazingly furnished. At around €1,000,000 they are not cheap but Hubert assures me that the owner wants to sell quickly and will be prepared to come down a fair bit.

I return home tired but elated, having achieved what I was hoping to. I have found that replacement house and a couple of gems that I can keep under my hat with all the other special properties I know of who are awaiting the ‘perfect’ owner!"