We met with the Notaire on Monday and signed the preliminary paperwork for the new house. At the last minute, the English-speaking Notaire we were supposed to meet with was substituted with a gentleman that, admittedly, hadn’t spoken much English in 15 years. [Theo says that the Notaire’s English was about as good (or bad) as Theo’s French!!! Yes, we’re struggling.] But our wonderful realtor was there to translate and explain for the 2-1/2 hours it took to crawl through everything.
French law dictates that all property transactions be overseen, and quite literally, rubber-stamped by a Notaire. Unlike in the US, they are attorneys and are representatives of the French State. They:
- check that each party has the right to sell/purchase the property
- do a title search, checking for any easements or restrictions
- check if there is a mortgage and make sure it is repaid
- check with planning to make sure the current site maps are correct (which ours were not)
- draw up the title deeds
- keep all monies owed to all parties and distribute taxes and payments
We have decided to use the same Notaire as the sellers to make things easier. We put down our good-faith deposit of approximately 10% and the final payment to the Notaire will include the balance for the purchase, the Purchase Tax of around 8%, the Habitation Tax, the City Tax, and the Notaire’s fees. Whew. But it still beats California Property Taxes every year…
During the meeting, our Notaire went over the results of the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (comparable to the Home Inspection), in fine detail and in an exact order. This covered the energy performance report (how energy efficient the house is and the property’s effect on the environment), the condition of the gas and electric services, if the septic tank conforms, as well as the presence of asbestos, lead, and termites.
The house came through fairly clean, except for the septic system, which we knew wouldn’t conform to the new laws, as 99% of the houses with septic don’t. And so, we’re waiting for a quote for a new system and will pursue the liability for payment with the sellers.
And lastly, as with everything in France, we had to sign dozens of pages of documents and ended up with quite a stack in our file. Now we wait. After we get the septic quote on Friday and negotiate with the sellers, then it takes 3 more months for the final close to take place.
So we’re looking at mid-January at the soonest to take ownership and be able to begin the remodel. The good news is, that gives us a good amount of time to figure out what we want to do with the house, get quotes for the work, and look for materials in a foreign land. [My favorite part, of course…!!!]