Notaire fees and your new property in France

French notaireBuying property anywhere is a complex and rather bureaucratic exercise – each country has its own unique collection of quirky customs and obscure conventions that must be followed to the letter, often, it would seem, with the sole purpose of mystifying foreigners. The French property market is more idiosyncratic than most, and, for a Brit unused to the legal conventions involved when purchasing property in France, nothing illustrates this as well as notaire’s fees. ‘Frais de notaire’ are an obligatory feature of any house purchase, and it is important to take them into consideration when deciding how much you can afford to spend on your new home – they are almost never included in asking price featured in property adverts. However, although the fee structure operated by French notaires can seem fairly mysterious and tricky to fully comprehend, it is easy enough to understand in principle. And, of course, as with all legal conventions, if there is anything you are struggling to understand over the course of your purchase, just ask!

A notaire is essentially a cross between a solicitor and a town clerk. They play an extremely important role throughout the purchasing process, acting as an advisor and making sure that you are aware of all the formalities that need to be completed. It is their job to ensure due dilligence – basically, they exist to oversee the paperwork generated by a property purchase, and to ensure that all proceedings are in accordance with French law. As well as acting in property conveyancing, they also have a role to play in inheritance procedures, marriage contracts, wills, divorce settlements and the letting of property.

Notaire fees, or ‘frais de notaire’, are in part, as the name suggests, fees paid to the notaire in return for their services – they are not employed by the French government, so the notaire earns his or her income directly from the fees charged for their services. However, the notaire is not the sole beneficiary. The majority is made up of fees due to the Treasury, which the notaire is responsible for collecting, and professional fees owed to the land and building surveyors, among others. As a general rule, for a purchase without a mortgage, the percentage of notaire’s fees that go to the notaire tend to be around 1%, although a scale system is in operation – the higher the sale price of the property, the smaller the cut taken by the notaire. For example, for a purchase between €17k and €30k, around 1.1% of the ‘frais de notaire’ goes directly to the notaire, while for a purchase above €30k, the notaire will only take around 0.825%.

The rates for notaire fees are fixed by the French government and are determined in relation to the sale price of the property, and, as previously mentioned, can be rather confusing. While the percentage of the fee going to the notaire does not change whether the house in question is a new build, leaseback or an older property, the age of the property is used to calculate the total fees due. Broadly speaking, they are usually between 2 and 3% for an Off Plan or ‘new build’ property – that is to say, one that is less than five years old.

Here is a good calculator which will give you an estimation of the Notaire fee you need to pay: Calculator

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 2:38 pm and is filed under Notary fees . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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