Understanding the notaire’s role in your French property purchase | France Buying Guide

Understanding the role of the notaire

The notaire is one of the most important components of the French buying process, there to make sure the transaction is carried out in accordance with French law.


French law dictates that all property transactions MUST be overseen and quite literally rubber-stamped by a notaire, who amongst other things draws up the title deeds.

A notaire is a legally trained representative of the French government, and their role includes:

  • Checking that each party has full capacity, or the right either to sell the property or to purchase it
  • Searches relating to the current title of the property, and checking there are no easements or restrictions that could reduce the value of the property or affect its usage
  • Checking that no mortgage or charge exists over the property – and, if necessary, ensuring that existing mortgages and charges are repaid on completion
  • Checking the situation with regard to planning and making sure searches do not reveal anything that could reduce the value of the property

You will be able to choose which notaire you would like to oversee the property purchase, but usually one local to the property, or suggested by the vendor or estate agent is adequate.

When it comes to fees, those for notaires are set by the French Government and are often lumped together with the taxes due. You should be given a break-down of all costs charged for your purchase. Independent solicitor fees for overseeing a French property transaction are typically £1,000-£2,000, depending on the property and firm.


Some 'fast facts' about notaires in France

  • The institution of the notaire dates back hundreds of years and they work for the state in France.
  • The notaire ensures all proceedings comply with French property law, whether the property is bought through a notaire, an agency or privately. He will assist all parties ensuring the selling process runs smoothly.
  • You are PERFECTLY entitled to appoint your own notaire or British legal representative,
  • The notaire will carry out all the searches and ensure there are no pre-emptive rights on the property.
  • The notaire will attend the signing of all contracts from the Agreement for Sale (Compromis de Vente) to the Deed of Sale (Acte de Vente).
  • The notaire will read out the terms of the contract and oversee the transfer of funds before handing over the keys on completion.
  • Fees are usually between 2 and 8% of the net property price - the cheaper the property, the higher the percentage. Please note: the fees may well be included in the price if you are buying from an estate agent but DO CHECK!
  • A good notaire will ensure both the buyer and the seller understand what is expected of them throughout the buying process by keeping in contact with both parties and preparing everything in advance for them to sign the contracts and exchange funds.

Further reading for Buying In France


Viewing Guide

Finding the right property and can be a challenge. What do you need to think about early on?


Legal Matters

Buying a property in France has very different legal requirements to the UK. 



Hidden Costs

Spending tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds on a property in France is a HUGE decision.


Currency Zone

Did you know that you could save thousands of pounds when emigrating by using a currency specialist?


When purchasing property legal hold-ups can be disastrous. You need to make extra sure that you have an English-speaking, impartial solicitor looking out for your best interests from the very start.
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