Who is the Notaire?

Written by: Graham Gilbert Date: 4 December 2006

The French Notaire replaces the British solicitor in property transactions - but only one is necessary and he represents neither vendor nor buyer!

The Notaire is an independent public official who has the monopoly on conveyancing (cessation des biens immobiliers) and who collects the taxes due on a property transfer on behalf of the French government.

Unlike in the UK where the vendor and the buyer each have their own solicitor to look after their respective affairs, in France the same notaire usually acts for both parties. It is his duty to ensure that the transaction is valid, that there is legal proof of ownership (the seller's title) and there are no outstanding debts or claims of ownership on the property.

He conducts searches, prepares documents and is responsible for the collection of frais de timbre (stamp duty) and droits d'enregistrement (registration fees).

While most transactions use just the one notaire, you can, if you wish, instruct your own - this will not increase the total fees, the same sum is then split between the two notaires.

As the buyer it is your duty to pay the frais the notaire (notaire's fees) and it is always advisable to make the initial deposit and subsequent balance payable to the Notaire not the estate agent.

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