|Role of the notary / „acte authentique“
As we have seen the endurance of the preliminary contract depends on the fulfilment of specific conditions, stipulated or legally purported which is the notary’s task to review. He deals with questions such as:
- Has the question of a financing loan been dealt with as legally dictated (see above)?
- Are there pre-emptors?
- The notary provides information from the community if there are constructional projects which could touch the property.
- The notary reviews the legality of the ownership characteristic of the seller(s). It can be quite difficult under circumstances of inheritance matters.
- The notary takes a look at the mortgage register. Should the debits exceed the purchase price the preliminary contract becomes void.
- The notary reviews the fulfilment of all exclusion clauses („conditions suspensives“).
When all this is completed the results are combined in the „acte authentique“ and signed by the parties. Between conclusion of the preliminary contract and signing of the notarial file there is usually a time period of 2 to 3 months. Each page of the contract is to be initialled by all parties and the last page is to be provided with the complete name and the mandatory set phrase „lu et approuvé, bon pour achat“.
The personal presence of buyer and / or seller is not imperatively necessary, authorisations are sufficient.
The ownership is ultimately transferred from the seller to the buyer with this step. The buyer is the new owner. The buyer does not receive the ownership document („acte de propriété) until several months later after it has been returned to the notary from the mortgage register. Immediately after signing the “authentic file” however the new owner receives a temporary verification of his/her property, the „attestation de propriété“ which he/she can use, if necessary, e.g. when opening an account or similar.
Apart from the fees for his/her activity the notary also collects the real estate tax, registry tax and other fees for tax authorities and local authorities (everything together is usually defined as „frais de notaire“).
The notary collects the rest of the purchase price and normally the real estate agent’s commission and transfers the sums to the seller or rather the real estate agent as far as he/she can verify his/her entitlement.
The notary registers the passage of title.
At this point it is again pointed out that in most cases the seller’s notary is assigned with the procedures. However the buyer is free to additionally assign his/her own notary. This is not disadvantageous for the buyer regarding costs because then the two notaries assigned to handle the procedures split the notary fees.