Is the price right? Is the surface area correct? Is the application file complete? The checklist looks long when you start buying, and you constantly worry that some of the information may be wrong. Using the services of a property professional to answer these questions can remove some of the uncertainty. The first port of call when looking for your dream home is the real estate agent – a sort of control tower, less emotionally influenced than a potential owner. He knows his local market on a daily basis, which is vital for setting a fair price on a property – the secret of a successful transaction. He can tell purchasers about the area, select appropriate properties, prepare the visits and start compiling the purchase application. His main asset is his network of partner companies, financial advisers capable of gauging how serious a buyer is and whether they have any guarantees, and even known clients who might be interested in buying.
Another key player is the notary. As well as acting as an advisor, he has access to a complete file on all houses, with the precise surface area of the property for sale (required by he Carrez law) and the technical survey report (DDT in French).
This is attached to any sale or purchase agreement, and includes various mandatory technical surveys of the real estate in question. It helps identify the presence of materials or products containing asbestos, the risk of exposure to lead, the presence of termites, natural and technological hazards, and energy performance. One new element: the survey now focuses on domestic gas installations. And in a few months it will also include questions on verifying indoor electricity installations and plumbing (septic and other systems) for stand-alone residential houses. This DDT must be drafted by a properly-accredited professional insured for liability.
As well as assembling these key documents, the notary also draws up legal contracts. As a lawyer endowed with public authority, he bestows a special degree of security on transfers of property ownership by intervening at every stage of the operation. For example, the price can be lowered if there is a difference of more than 5% between the actual and listed surface area.
Similarly, in line with the Order of 8 June 2005 on housing and construction, if there if no DDT survey file or if one of the documents is invalid (they must be no less than three months old), the vendor will be responsible for any latent defects at the time of sale. Other essential documents include the deeds to show that the seller is in fact the owner of the property, and any co-ownership regulations. Although the notary ensures that the whole transaction runs smoothly, potential buyers can always withdraw their bid.
They have seven days following the signing of the sales agreement to make up their mind, and should inform the notary by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt without having to give any specific reason. However, once this withdrawal period is past and the purchase funds has been collected, it’s time to set the date for signing the deed of sale and picking up the key from the notary.
Notaries apply a national rate set by the Minister of Justice.
Negotiating fees are calculated at a rate of 5% up to €45,735 and 2.5% above that amount (exclusive of VAT). On top of these negotiating fees, he will always ask for other standard fees to be paid, mainly duties and taxes due to the State but also fees for the drafting the deed of sale.These average out at 6.5% for old houses, and less for new buildings.