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Meanwhile, in France...

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Vince_Ulam, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. fraisier

    fraisier Occasional commenter

    I’m sure that there are some dishonest notaires just like there are dodgy British solicitors but notaires are public officers (as well as being in effect business people, they have two hats), they are sworn in and operate in a highly regulated business, it’s all set out in law (mainly via the Code Civil, the property-related sections are in books II and III, massive – downloadable from the Net). They’re not double-glazing salespeople or dodgy back street mechanics, they risk an awful lot if they go rogue.
    And notaires usually work as partners (opening a practice is expensive, so they tend to team up), which limits the risk of fraud.

    All taxes taken by the notaire should be itemised in the initial sale contract (“Compromis de vente”, signed right at the beginning of the process), so there should be no add-on charges and no nasty surprise when the two parties come to sign the final purchase deed (“Acte de vente”). The Chambre des Notaires (there’s one in every department) regulates and controls notaires, yearly (first bit in bold below) and is also there to listen to queries/complaints and investigate, anyone can contact the Chambre des Notaires (second bit in bold). This is from a website on the roles of a Chambre des Notaires: https://www.consortium-immobilier.fr/guide/achat-vente/528/534/

    Fonction de contrôle de la Chambre des notaires

    Plus important encore que la fonction consultative, les Chambres de notaires opèrent un véritable contrôle sur les offices de notaires et sur l’exercice des fonctions de notaire.

    Concrètement, chaque Chambre vérifie annuellement dans la limite de sa compétence géographique (compétence circonscrite au département), le bon fonctionnement de toutes les études notariales dans le département concerné.

    Dans le cadre de leur pouvoir de contrôle, les Chambres de notaires s’assurent également du respect par les notaires de leurs départements respectifs, de la déontologie applicable à cette profession.

    Le pouvoir de sanction par la Chambre des notaires

    En cas de manquement par un notaire, à ses devoirs déontologiques, la Chambre des notaires est habilitée à mettre en place des sanctions appropriées.

    La Chambre des notaires peut être saisie par tout client qui se sent lésé par le comportement ou l’agissement inapproprié d’un notaire. Une fois saisie par courrier recommandé avec accusé de réception, la Chambre des notaires a tous pouvoirs pour instruire le dossier de doléance.

    Une action disciplinaire diligentée par la chambre de discipline et exercée par un syndic de la Chambre des notaires, est alors possible à l’encontre du notaire concerné.

    Les sanctions disciplinaires vont du simple blâme à la destitution, sans exclure une possible interdiction d’exercer.

  2. fraisier

    fraisier Occasional commenter

    And finally Frank, rest assured that there’s no more risks involved in buying a house in France than there is in the UK but it's best to know the process a minimum, it feels less daunting etc.

    I’ve never bought a property in France (I’ve inherited one but we – my sisters and I – sold it straight away) but my French relatives and acquaintances have bought and sold many over the years and I don’t know of anyone who’s been shafted by a notaire or who’s had a truly bad experience where they felt they were being conned.

    In any case, the estate agent, if one is involved, will be able to help and advise. As you many know, lots of property transactions in France are conducted “de particulier à particulier” (directly, without using an estate agency - their fees are higher than in the UK), especially via websites dealing in direct sales such as Le Bon Coin – an extremely popular sales site, the 4th most visited in France after Facebook, Google and YouTube – or Particuliers à Particuliers. If it were that risky, I don’t think so many people would take the risk of buying a house without going through an estate agent.

    As a buyer, especially a foreign one or as someone who’s not very familiar with the system, it is important to realise that while you can use the same notaire as the seller, you are also perfectly at liberty to appoint your own notaire (and indeed many people prefer to use their own - the overall sales fee is divided between two, the buyer and the seller, there isn't two separate notaire fees), it makes sense especially if you don’t know the area or the particular notaire instructed by the seller.

    I’d say that it’s less stressful to buy/sell a house in France thanks to one important step: the “Compromis de vente” (sale agreement), whereby the buyer pays a 10% deposit (this sum is kept by the notaire until completion. There’s a 14-day coolling off period, called "délai de rétractation", just in case you (as the buyer) change your mind) so there’s none, or very little, of this gazumping or gazundering going on or chains that break at the 11th hour or the buyer that suddenly decides he doesn’t want to buy anymore or the seller that puts the price up suddenly or withdraws the sale for the flimliest of reasons etc. (it’s happened to us, twice, both as a buyer and a seller and it’s highly infuriating). In some circumstances (death, illness etc.), the buyer or seller is allowed to change his mind and this 10% deposit can be returned to her/him but in theory, once you’ve agreed to buy/sell, that’s it, if you change your mind you lose 10% of the sale price.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019

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