Are you thinking of buying a home in Uzège? This series tries to answer the questions you might have. Download the full brochure here.
What’s the notaire’s role?
The notaire is a public official of the French State. His role is not only to advise clients on the transaction, but also to ensure the proper transfer of the property, and to collect taxes on behalf of the State. The notaire is required by law to act impartially, and acts for both buyer and seller. This may seem strange to foreign buyers, but the vast majority of transactions in France are handled by a single notaire.
The estate agent should be able to recommend a local notaire. If you feel unsure about this, you are entitled to appoint your own notaire. This will not cost you any more money, as the two notaires (yours and the seller’s) will split the fee between them. Additionally, you can choose to get independent legal advice in France or in the UK to help you with the purchase (e.g. from a non-French solicitor) – but you will be liable for their fees in addition to the notaire’s fees.
Once you find a property and agree a price, the actual contract process is handled by the notaire. There are two key documents you will need to sign to buy a property in France: the COMPROMIS DE VENTE (pre-sales agreement) and the ACTE AUTHENTIQUE (full contract).
Compromis de vente
The compromis de vente is an important document as it sets out the main terms of the agreement between the buyer and the seller. Normally the buyer pays a 10% deposit on signing the agreement, which is held by the notaire. The agreement has to be signed by both parties and is a legally binding agreement – the only “get out” is if one of the obligations in the conditional clauses (“conditions suspensives”) is not met.
The compromis includes a date when the acte authentique is expected to be signed. (Note that this is not legally binding and is really used as a target date which both parties aim for). For the notaire to draw up the agreement, you need to provide your passport, marriage papers and divorce papers. If you are getting a mortgage, you also need paperwork with details of the loan.
To ensure that you have undisputed ownership of the property, it is advisable to obtain a 30-year origin of title in your final conveyance deed. As a precaution, a clause should be included in your contract stating that if any inconvenient easements are discovered in these documents, you will have the right to withdraw.