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Legal process when buying a property in France

The legal steps

We will advise and assist you on all matters connected with the purchase of your property and will be there to protect your interests until the property becomes your own.


What is a “Notaire”?

A French “Notaire” (Notary) is a publicly appointed official who is responsible for ensuring a property has good title (ie, no irregularities in the ownership, root of ownership of the last 30 years) and that the purchase or sale is correctly undertaken. Because Notaries are personally responsible for the contracts drawn up they must be objective in the advice they give and be impartial in their dealings with the parties concerned.

A “Notaire” represents neither the seller nor the buyer but the French Government. The same Notaire usually acts for both the vendor and the purchaser. This is not obligatory and you can appoint your own Notaire if you wish. The fees (paid by the purchaser) are fixed by law and will be split between both Notaries if two are appointed. You should be aware that the Notaire’s job is to finalise the agreement he has been told has been recorded. He is not there to advise or warn the purchaser of any inadequacies in it. His role is therefore very different from that of a solicitor.

If you are making a purchase with a mortgage, you should at least instruct the Notaire or the estate agent to make your purchase conditional upon obtaining a mortgage (agreement called “clauses suspensives”). This will offer you further protection under French Consumer Law. Upon signing this preliminary agreement the purchaser has to place a deposit with the Notaire, which is normally between 5 and 10% of the purchase price and will be deducted from the sale price.

This deposit has to be kept on a protected escrow account by the estate agent if he has a financial guarantee, or in any case, by the notaire.

What is a “Title deed”?
This document will be provided to you by the Notaire following the purchase of your property. You will have to keep this document as it will be the proof of your ownership. This always drawn up by the Notaire and signed by all parties on completion.

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