French News Archive

French Property

Consider Using Your Own French Notaire

Wednesday 01 August 2007

Whilst it is the practice of many international buyers to use a shared notaire in the purchase process, it is also perfectly legitimate for both buyer and seller to each appoint their own notaire.

This practice is not unusual amongst the French in Paris and other major cities, and one that is now becoming more widespread in the countryside.

Unless you seek specific, specialist advice there is no increase in the fee for using your own notaire, as the standard, official fee is divided between the two notaires.

It does mean that it will prolong the transaction process, and this may not be acceptable to the seller, but that is a point you need to consider as part of the purchase negotiations.

A notaire is under a legal obligation to provide you with complete and detailed information on the nature of the agreement you are signing. Most notaires do this job extremely well, insofar as it goes.

However, it is not their job to hold your hand throughout the process in the manner that might be the case with a solicitor or avocat. Their primary task relates to ensuring you have good title to the property, and there are limits in the extent of the pre-contract enquiries undertaken by them.

Let us not exaggerate the problem. France has a very secure system of property purchase, but getting good title to the property is only one half of the coconut. Your own notaire is clearly going to be more attentive to your personal needs, and is likely to be more pro-active with their advice.

Even even if you do decide to use a single notaire on a shared basis, in law, the choice of the notaire is the prerogative of the purchaser, so it need not be the notaire of the seller.

As an alternative to appointing your own notaire, it is equally possible to appoint international property solicitors based in your own country, or to appoint a French avocat (lawyer). However, they will come at a price.

If you have only a poor command of the French language, then translation assistance throughout the whole process is, arguably, better value for money. Indeed, notaires are under a legal obligation to provide you with translation assistance (at your cost) if you give notice that you do not have an adequate command of the language.

This whole issue of legal representation and advice in the purchase process is considered in greater depth in our guide to Buying Property in France.

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