Notes On Notaires

Notes on Notaires


PARLER PARIS: PARIS PROPERTY INSIDER


Enhanced web-edition online at:
/parlerparis/property


September 19, 2002


THE NOTAIRE AND REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS


Dear Paris Property Insider Reader,


You cannot buy or sell real estate in France without a
"notaire." By law, they are charged with administering
nearly all aspects of the transaction. They essentially
have a monopoly over the preparation, signing, and
execution of the final deed ("acte authentique"). That’s
the short of it.


In addition, the role of a notaire is equivalent to that of
a title company and property inspector (to a limited
extent). It is their responsibility to verify that the
seller is really the owner of the property, to insure there
are no easements or restrictions which could reduce the
value of the property or affect its enjoyment, and to
verify the condition of the building and insure that it is
not included in any government project plans and thus
subject to government control (where it could be taken over
for some public purpose). The notaire must also verify the
size of the apartment (usually via an architect’s drawing),
that the pipes in the building are lead-free, and that
there are no termites in the building.


The notaire is generally hired by the seller of the
property, but theoretically acts as an impartial third
party (the buyer has the right to have his own notaire
involved). As buyer, your first meeting will probably be at
the signing of the "promesse de vente" (the initial
contract of sale that establishes the agreements reached
between the seller and buyer). The description and history
of the property is read, the necessary information about
the buyer and the seller is disclosed, and the contract is
signed. The notaire will also collect the deposit at this
time (usually 10% of the purchase price).


After a required 7 day period–for the buyer to "reflect"
on the transaction–has passed, the notaire has completed
the necessary searches and inspections and acquired the
necessary information from the local authorities and the
bank (if there’s to be a mortgage), and they prepare the
final deed. The parties meet once again with the notaire.
They are required to read the deed through completely to
both the seller and buyer and make any relevant amendments.
They receive the balance of payment from the buyer; take
out their fee, instruct the real estate agent to hand over
the keys, and pay the proceeds to the seller and other
appropriate parties such as the real estate agent, a
lender, and tax authority.


Even though the notaire has now been paid, the work is not
quite completed. It is their responsibility to register the
title deed. The original deed remains with the notaire
indefinitely, but you will receive a copy of the registered
title that proves your ownership of the property. This
takes about two months after completion. You can however
ask for a copy of the signed deed on the completion day.


As an international buyer your situation will undoubtedly
differ from a French buyer. While a notaire is there to
provide counsel and advice, they are most likely not going
to be able to do so adequately in your situation. They are
not required to draw your attention to every aspect of the
situation, only to answer your questions. There are
notaires who speak English, though they often charge extra
for this "service." Even if you speak French fluently, you
may not be able to express yourself adequately in a real
estate transaction. It is always wise to seek legal
assistance from a professional familiar with French
procedure and those of your own country.


Understanding a notaire’s role in a real estate transaction
will help you understand the system here a little more and
hopefully make you more comfortable when you’re ready to
confront it.


A bientôt,


Schuyler Hoffman
Editor, Paris Property Insider
E-mail: mailto:propertyinsider@internationalliving.com


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