Notaire - a public officer

A Notaire is a public officer who operates in every area of law including family, property, inheritance, asset management, company law, countryside law, local authorities, etc.They act on behalf of the State and is appointed by the Minister of Justice, and the fact that a contract is drawn up by a Notaire is a guarantee of its legality and authenticity.

Notaire - a self-employed professional

Although they have public authority, the Notaire operates on a self-employed basis and is responsible for their own office. They are self-employed professional who are paid by their clients (and not the taxpayers) on the basis of a rate fixed by the State for the services he provides. The term "notaire fees" when associated with property sales usually includes not only the Notaire's own remuneration and expenses, but also the sales tax and stamp duty that he collects on behalf of the state.

French Property sales

One or more Notaires will be appointed to oversee every property sale in France. A Notaire will work in close collaboration with your estate agent throughout the French property sales procedure. He will ensure that all legal requirements are met, and that all parties are aware of their rights and obligations. He carries out various searches, establishes title, advises the parties on inheritance and financial issues, draws up the final sales deed, and registers the sale at the land registry. The choice of Notaires is the prerogative of the buyer, who is responsible for paying all the notaire fees and stamp duty on a purchase.

The vendor does not pay the fees but may still choose to involve a second notaire (common for French vendors who may have a trusted 'family' notaire). Notaires sharing the workload also share the fees, which are determined by the State on a sliding scale according to the purchase price. Thus it does not cost any more to use two Notaires, but will probably take longer for the legal formalities to be accomplished. If you have no experience of French property purchase, we recommend that you be guided by your estate agent as to the choice of notaire for your particular transaction.

French Estate agents and Notaires

French registered estate agent or 'agent immobilier' is licenced to draw up private contracts between the parties. These take the form of sales mandates, written offers, and most importantly the 'compromis de vente' or 'sous-seing privé', the pre-sales contract in which all the terms and conditions of the sale are laid down.The notaire may also draw up pre-sales contracts (and may even act as an estate agent, with a scale of fees for this on top of the usual notaire fees). But upon completion, it is the Notaire only who is authorized to draw up, witness and register the authenticated deed which defines the transfer of property – the Acte de Vente. Final completion is thus a formal affair, where the notaire receives the parties in his office and reads out to them the terms of the official deed of sale and all its annexes, before witnessing everyone's signatures..After completion, the notaire will register the sale, will give all parties a written certificate of the transaction, and will in due course (after a couple of months)  send the buyer a stamped authenticated copy of the final sales deed, which is in effect the 'title deed' for the property.

More information can be found on the official Notaires' website: click here.