Signing for Property at the Notaires comes in 2 stages, the first of which we undertook after deciding upon purchasing our house. It was signing the Promis de Vente. We had to sign that we promised to buy the house, a fact that meant if we pulled out we would lose our deposit. The only reason for a prospective purchaser to pull out is when a loan is refused by the bank. In this case we were going to pay cash.
Over the years we have had a variety of experiences at the Notaires. For our first house purchase it was carried out quietly and professionally. The only hiccup was that we turned up without a cheque book… DUH! Luckily our friends still had their French account even though they had returned to live in Britain so they wrote the cheque for the deposit in our stead! The rest of the sale went through without a hitch and was done by proxy.
In the 4 purchases & sales we have been through, twice we have used just one notaire and twice we have engaged our own notaire as well. It doesn’t cost any more as there is only one ‘frais notaires’ for the sale. It’s price depends on a number of factors and examples are given on our Notaire post.
One occasion when we used our own notaire, we had travelled from Singapore to our holiday home at Christmas for the sole purpose of signing for an apartment near Toulouse. It was a new 3 bedroomed apartment with a swimming pool in the grounds but there were a number of small faults that needed to be fixed. Unfortunately the promoter’s sales rep hadn’t bothered to have these put right. Our notaire drove us to the meeting which this time was for the 2nd stage; signing the ‘Acte de Vente’, at the promoter’s notaire’s office.
The gentleman in question was ‘smartly’ dressed in fact quite dapper and definitely thought he was a cut above the rest of us, somewhat of a surprise for a small rural town in the south.
He started the meeting by saying to my wife, Denise who was sat just opposite him at the desk, “Frankly madame you have held up these proceedings by over a year without good cause!” He used the word ‘franchement’ which to us, has a slightly stronger nuance than the English translation. He had clearly got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Denise calmly replied “Frankly, monsieur, you clearly have not been given the correct facts, we saw the property only in July (5 months earlier) and asked for a number of faults to be put right and … here are the photos!”
I beamed as I saw his jaw drop and his cheeks redden. Was that a wisp of steam? They say if looks could kill…. the young sales rep would not have survived that evening. The notaire asked him why hadn’t he sorted all the problems out and said that we couldn’t sign the “acte” that evening. Luckily our own notaire was there to calm matters and explain that we had travelled from Asia especially.
This signing was for the “acte de vente”, the final document to sign for the sale to go through. We had signed an agreement with the sales person in a café in the July not the ‘promis de vente’ as for our first purchase. We only gave about 500 French francs (£50) as a sign of good faith and the cheque was never cashed. We had given our notaire the right to sign the acte by proxy for us but it still wasn’t ready until we were there in December. We had also negotiated a 100% interest only loan with our French bank.
So, we had to return 2 evenings later with a special clause inserted into the acte stating that the repairs had to be done within a certain time-frame. This time the other notaire was all sweetness and light to us. We signed the acte and the young sales man nipped out after a curt nod from the notaire. He returned with a large box of expensive chocolates and a bottle of very good Champagne!
In general Notaires are extremely polite and professional and handle much more than simply the buying and selling of property. They deal with family matters, inheritance, property, assets, company law, countryside law and regulate local authorities.
A few years later we sold that apartment and negotiated another 100% loan but this time paying back capital for the apartment where we now live. Times have change since the financial crisis and banks are now demanding a down payment before they lend. More of that in another post as we are getting off topic.
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