These real estate tourists who visit luxury properties

Coming from the United States, the phenomenon of “real estate porn” and fake buyers has begun to develop in France.

This is a relatively recent trend in France but well known in the United States: “real estate porn”. A kind of addiction to real estate, preferably attractive and inaccessible. This phenomenon invites itself into our homes more easily through social networks and dedicated TV shows: a dream that sometimes turns into an obsession.

Be it TikTok, Instagram or Show The Agency on Netflix Which allows us to follow the Kreutz family, French lovers of castles, villas and apartments, sometimes worth millions of euros. And more and more curious people are going so far as to want to see these items for themselves, even if it means pretending to be able to buy them. As for large international networks, we are experiencing in France something that is well known in the United States.

A “total voyeurism”

There, the addiction is fueled by “absolute voyeurism”, confirmed by Alexander Kraft, boss of Sotheby’s International Realty France – Monaco, who mentions for example the existence of a TV channel dedicated only to real estate :HGTV (for “Home and Garden Television”). It offers programs on apartment searches, house conversion or renovation or even “unsold houses”, in other words unsold houses that we will “broker” to find buyers. These programs are being exported rapidly. “Real estate porn” has gone global and has given rise to “real estate tourists”, these are fake buyers who visit properties to attract their attention.

But can you really break into high-end real estate without being noticed by real estate agents? In France, many try but few succeed. And with good reason, our luxury agents are mostly hyper-vigilant. Beyond the identity document, they also have obligations in terms of the fight against money laundering, not to mention financial interest: time is money. Notaries, bankers, lawyers, certificates of financing capacity… agents will actually check before recording a tour of a prestigious property. Especially since this promise of confidentiality in selling to customers in France is also made.

This is practically a cultural exception, because in the United States you can easily satisfy your curiosity with “open houses”, for example. These tours, open to almost all visitors, can take place in homes that sometimes cost up to ten million dollars.

Fake Buyers Are Sometimes Too Credible

In France, “real estate tourists” for luxury goods are very quickly identified by problems of coherence of speech, clothing style or behavior. “There are elements that are not misleading,” assures Coldwell Banker boss Laurent Demure, who nevertheless believes that some techniques can work.

Another real estate agent, on condition of anonymity, tells us that some people arrange to meet at a palace, for example. The fake buyer claims to be there and offers coffee, which is a fairly limited expense. Some are so trustworthy that they even promise to buy. As far as the security deposit is concerned, which goes up to 10% of the property value, the false buyers have already managed to convince the notary to wait for the payment.

Somehow, these curious people don’t take too many risks. Refusal to take loan from the bank is one of the legal conditions for suspending real estate purchase. As far as unnecessary visits are concerned, agents do not want to waste much time in finding legal remedies to punish these false buyers. On the other hand, they have identified them and are spreading the word throughout the network. That’s why some people do the journey once but not twice. To visit without lying, know that the networks sometimes organize open days with luxury designers and brands, such as the recent one with the Varenne agency for a private mansion in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.

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