A glance at ourwill show that there is a wealth of information supplied by good books on the subject of buying and running a bed and breakfast or a small hotel. However there is very little information available on how to sell a small tourist business.
Here are some tips you may find useful
Gites are found in French speaking countries, notably France and Canada. There are a variety of different official categories, for instance there are Gite d'Etapes, Gite de Sejours, Chambres d'Hotes, Gite complexes as well as a number of types of business that are just generically called 'Gite'. Indeed the simplest type of Gite consists of a domestic house or residence and a self contained outbuilding - typically a very small cottage that is rented out to tourists.
To be safe, don't assume that the word 'Gite' means a great deal to your buyer - spell out to them exactly what is involved in running the business and crucially give a good description of guest expectations in terms of hospitality, service, rooms and food.
The Gite market is a specialist one, unless an agent has an established track record of selling Gites and knows how to reach a wide domestic and international audience then you may benefit by looking for a specialist or marketing the sale of your Gite yourself. If your Gite business is essentially a domestic house with a couple of small rental outbuildings then it may sell well in a conventional domestic property marketing environment but if the main value of your property is in the business side and you take a large number of guests then we suggest that your agent should demonstrate a good understanding of your type of business, someone who does not understand the business is unlikely to know how to market it and who to market it to.
Whether or not you go with an agent you should consider marketing on the internet yourself and to this end you should be careful not to agree to exclusivity mandates so that you are free to do this.
In France be wary of estate agents who contact you without your invitation saying they have a buyer waiting but first they need you to sign a mandate. The authors have personal experience of this and hear reports of it on a regular basis, usually there is no specific buyer waiting at all, its just a marketing ploy.
In France estate agents will tell you it is a legal requirement that they have a mandate before introducing buyer and seller which is true but what they omit to tell you is that they can equally sign a mandate with the buyer instead of the seller and indeed if they have genuinely been hired by a buyer to find them a property then really they should have a mandate with the buyer and not you. It is natural that estate agents protect their fee for introducing buyer and seller - this is fair and to be expected, the issue is whether the estate agent is technically working for you or for the buyer and whether the buyer or seller should be asked to sign the mandate. Of course if you approach the estate agent and ask him to act for you then thats a different matter and you will usually have to sign a mandate - you should consider talking to your notaire before signing an estate agents mandate.
Looking at some of the brief 'four line' adverts advertising Gites for sale you would not guess that the majority of people buying Gites are seeking a lifestyle business and better quality of life.
If you are only intending to sell your Gite to someone with previous experience then perhaps a brief four line description will work well enough but it is hardly inviting to a newcomer. Be descriptive and informative, of course be accurate but a terse description really does not send the right messages to your potential buyers. Remember to include two perspectives, firstly why your business and location is attractive to clients but also why you think a new owner would choose to live in your location.
Pictures speak a thousand words. There are plenty of web sites that offer free or modestly priced advertising space but it is simply staggering how many advertisers ignore a free offer to add pictures to their advert! If your business is in an area of natural beauty or interest then consider using some of your photo allowance to show the surroundings after all this is what is going to attract clientele for the new owner.
Including quality pictures of your property can double the effectiveness of your adverts, indeed many people browsing such sites simply pass by the adverts that don't include a picture. Put yourself in the buyers position and ask yourself whether a pure text advert would catch your eye?
Details To Include
Clients, are your clients mainly French or another nationality? families, youths or pensioners?
What is your capacity / average occupancy?
Do you have two seasons?
Do you serve food?, if so then do you have a restaurant and professional level kitchen?
Do you have an alcohol license?
Why do people come and stay? What are the main attractions in the area?
What skills are required? Language skills? Cooking skills?
What is the work load like? Cooking, cleaning?
Are there nearby schools? doctors? dentists and shops?
Distance to rail, road and airlinks?
BuyMyDreamHotel.com allows, indeed encourages search engines like Google™ to index individual adverts. This means that people searching online for a Gite for sale may find your advert directly. At least fifty percent of the searches for a Gite include specific geographic terms including villages, towns, cities, departments and points of the compass (example: South West France...we know we track them! ) so be sure to include a lot of textual description of your location and local attractions - it may be that extra keyword that results in a buyer finding your advert!
Always think about what keywords your buyer might be using in a search engine when you compose text for an online advert - put yourself in your buyers position and try and make it easy for them to find you!
Yes everyone has seen adverts for gites, hotels or campsites for sale with a rather stern warning at the end "no time wasters!". Of course there are some 'window shoppers' out there who will gladly waste your time to satisfy nothing than a curious whim but its worth remembering that a sizeable proportion of people buying Gites are doing so for the first time ( wanting a change of lifestyle ) such people may lack knowledge on certain issues and so may sometimes seem naive but is it really worth risking alienating this part of the market with an unfriendly 'no time wasters' at the bottom of your written advert?
People who have not run a Gite business before may genuinely not know whether they are 'time wasters' because despite initial research they may simply not know whether a bank will loan them the amount of money they need - indeed where would they even look to find out what the balance sheet of a small Gite business looks like unless they view some businesses for sale and go through the process of due diligence and thereby obtain a better understanding?
It is much better to reflect on the fact that you are selling the biggest investment you ever made - a sense of perspective is required here - perhaps it is time to take a deep breath and be a little patient - just learn to live with the occasional 'time waster'. Don't allow your first signal to a potential buyer in your advert text to contain overtones of irritability. Start each new enquiry with a fresh mind.
Be patient! If you are selling a medium to large operation then you are in a specialist market - domestic houses may sell in weeks but Gites, Hotels and Campsites usually take months and even a year to sell - Don't be panicked into reducing price without first getting sound advice and put your energy into the marketing, it is quite realistic to spend half an hour a day sitting behind the computer composing emails, finding new places to advertise and researching the market - find out what other similar businesses are for sale in your location and compare your price with theirs.
If possible include your advert in English and French. Historically English speakers have accounted for a sizeable proportion of buyers in France but the ratio of French buyers is increasing in many areas. Other useful languages if you can easily get a translation are Dutch and German.
Its normally safe to assume that anyone who sends you an email saying that they want to buy your Gite on the basis of merely viewing an online advert is up to no good. Consider anyone who makes very strong buying noises or wants to discuss methods of payment before they have even visited in person with a healthy skepticism. Most scammers will not visit your property in person so this is a good first line of defence. The phrase "we can discuss that after your first visit" is a good way to deal with questions you don't feel comfortable with. Ignore 'cash under the table' suggestions as these usually indicate money laundering operations.
Inevitably people offering legitimate but unwanted third party services will try and get in touch with you - if you have any doubts the simplest thing is to ask them very early on and gently
"Are you a private buyer? Please dont be offended but I get enquiries from estate agents, investors and people selling financial services"
Very few genuine buyers will be offended by a carefully worded and polite demand like this and equally very few professionals will be so brazen as to continue the pretence.
This document is a work in progress, we will add to it from time to time so please return again.
All information is offered in good faith but no responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information presented here or any situation or eventuality arising from its use. All suggestions and recommendations are no more than that and should not be considered an alternative to professional legal advice.