When dealing with the real estate process, a notary is vital. It's their role to oversee the legal aspect of the process, ranging from authorizing various documents to registering the title deeds to their designated government offices. Let's take a closer look at the notary's role in real estate.

1. Who is the notary? What is its role?

A notary in France is defined by:

“A public officer appointed by the Minister of Justice that the State entrusts with a public service mission. For the execution of its mission, the State grants the notary as having public authority, ensuring authentic public service.”

In addition to their certification, the notary in France also serves as a general lawyer whose duty is to advise their clients through various legal processes. Not to mention to assist you and work for your best interests, mostly by providing their analysis of the law and expertise of various legal processes.

Building trust is essential. The notary must be there to listen to you and answer all your questions, from the most basic to the most difficult. Therefore, they have to act according to the Code of Ethics. You can find notary offices that speak multiple languages, you can refers to the site of your Embassy in France. 

It's also important to note that a notary is a liberal professional. They are paid by clients (not by taxpayers) according to a tariff set by the State for the services rendered. 

2. What are the areas of intervention of the notary?

The notary's essential mission, especially when it comes to real estate, is to authenticate and preserve deeds.

The notary intervenes in several fields of action, including:
  • Personal and Family Life  
  • Registration and certification of wills 
  • Authenticity for important acts 
  • 75-year preservation of deeds 
  • Real Estate
  • Guiding through the real estate sale
  • Certifying documents made for the real estate transaction
  • Collection and payment of related taxes
  • Assistance in the fight against money laundering
  • Companies
  • Protection of the principle of unseizability of the employer's immovable property 
  • Control of the legality of the European company.
  • Rural Law and Environment 
  • Propose tools to encourage farming 
  • Creation of an agricultural fund that makes it possible to estimate the value of the farm 
  • Creation of a transferable lease in the authentic form 
  • Conclusion of a "credit transmission plan" in the authentic form
  • Local Authorities 
  • Providing legal advice in urban planning law, spatial planning, environmental law, and local authority law
  • Drafting of the act with the related responsibility

3. How to choose your notary ?

There is no rule or regulation that sets how a notary is chosen and hired for the real estate process.

As a general rule, the buyer decides which notary is responsible for drafting the authentic deed. However, the seller can still request that their own notary be present on the day of signing.

In the event that several notaries are hired for both parties, no costs are added as notary fees are legally regulated. Their remuneration is increased by 10% of notary fees, regardless of the number of notaries present. The fee will be 1% of the price, subsequently divided according to the number of notaries present.

Nevertheless, it's recommended to hire 2 different notaries at most—one for the buyer and one for the seller—to reassure both parties that their opinions and best interests will be taken into account. 

Geographical proximity is a common criterion for choosing a notary. You can also contact the Departmental and Interdepartmental Notary Office to obtain a list of offices in your sector. And on the notaires.fr website, you have access to a directory and the contact details of over 6,000 offices and 15,300 notaries practicing in metropolitan France and overseas.

4. How is the notary remunerated?

Generally, the payment for the notary is made of different elements, namely:
  • Rights - what is due to the State and local authorities
  • Disbursements - amounts owed to third parties or travel expenses
  • Notary Fees - strictly regulated by law. There are 96 headings of acts, all priced differently. 

  • Important Note: A notary may also receive additional payments only for notarial activities not charged by law.  

5. What are notary fees? How to lower them?

Notary fees are what you pay your notary upon the completion of a real estate sale. They also include transfer taxes (taxes and other standard registration and management fees) paid to the State, whether you bought an old or new property. 

Technically, the most correct term is “acquisition fees” since the notary fees only take up 1% to 2% of the final price paid. The rest go to the State (i.e. 5.80% in transfer fees and almost 1% in registration fees, not to mention taxes).

Moreover, notary fees on the acquisition of an old property are valued at approximately 7% to 8% of the price against 2% to 3% of the sale price for new real estate. When signing the authentic deed, the notary will retain this amount from the final price of the real estate transaction.

Notary fees are non-negotiable.

Important Note: It is possible to compare several notaries to see which one has fees you could better afford. Consulting with a notary is also free. You'll only have to pay when it's time to draft the deed of sale. 

6. What documents must be sent to the notary?

As the one responsible for drafting the final deed of sale, the notary will require the submission of specific documents in order to certify the real estate sale. They include:
  • Mortgage status
  • Cadastral extract
  • Planning documents
  • Deeds stating easement of passage to the notary, or similar states.
  • Title Deed

In the case of a condominium property, the required documents include:
  • The dated pre-state
  • The Technical Diagnostics file
  • The summary sheet of the co-ownership
  • The descriptive state of division and the co-ownership regulations

In the case of property sold in a subdivision :
  • The property's specifications
  • Subdivision by-laws
  • The copy of the order allowing the subdivision
  • The statutes of the ASL (in the event that the property is in an ASL)

7. For which acts is the notary compulsory?

It is mandatory to use a notary for the following processes:
  • Real estate sale
  • Marriage contract
  • Inheritance agreement
  • Division of the property of an estate with a will or involving real estate
  • Donation
  • Act of notoriety
  • Act of hereditary notoriety
  • Consent to medically assisted procreation


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