The role of a Notaire – a public official
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 are 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.
The 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 professionals who are paid by their clients (and not the taxpayers) on the basis of a rate fixed by the State for the services they provide. 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 they collect on behalf of the state.
French Property sales – the Notaire’s involvement
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 property sales procedure. They will ensure that all legal requirements are met, and that all parties are aware of their rights and obligations. They carry out various searches, establish title, advise the parties on inheritance and financial issues, draw up the deeds, and register the sale at the land registry. Each party can, freely choose their own Notaire, and it is the buyer who is responsible for paying all the notaire fees and stamp duty on a purchase. Notaires sharing the workload 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.
Final completion – signature at the Notaire’s office
Final completion is a formal affair, where the Notaire receives the parties in their 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, give all parties a written certificate of the transaction, and will in due course (after a few months) supply the buyer with a stamped authenticated copy of the final sales deed, which is in effect the ‘title deed’ for the property.
If the parties cannot be present at the Notaire’s office for the signing of the sales pre-contract or final deed, it can usually be possible to sign by power of attorney. If you choose this option, your Notaire will prepare the power of attorney and send it to you to sign, but be aware that a person of authority in your home country such as a solicitor or French consul may be required to witness your signature, and as proof of your identity the witness must counter-sign and stamp the document.
More information can be found on the official Notaires’ website: click here.