We obviously don’t need to tell you why to buy a property on the French Riviera, as our other blog posts, word of mouth, experience and knowledge of the area is enough to convince you! However, there are many considerations to take into account when you are thinking of purchasing a home along the French Riviera, one of which is the different property laws and legislations in France and more specifically on the Cote d A’zur!
Who are the Notaire?
It is important to note that both Notaires and solicitors work with a totally separate body of law, customs and practice, which can mean when buying your property on the French Riviera it can be a little different to what you are used to in the UK.
The Notaire are the public officials and qualified lawyers, to ensure all transactions are legal with registered property within the French Law. Their key role is to ensure the client fully understand their rights and obligations under the required contract.
There are many differences between the Notaire and English solicitors, the main difference is that the Notaire can act for both parties involved in the transaction, as their duty of care is to be impartial and never favour one particular party. Usually with solicitors you can agree a fee before they take any instruction, whereas when dealing with the French Notaires, these fees are regulated by the French authority.
The differences is laws lead to two main frequently asked questions when purchasing your property on the French Riviera.
Why has the Notaire not transferred the proceeds the same day as completion?
In France, there are different legal and tax implications to do with the different meanings of “completion” in both countries. In the UK we understand the act of “completion” to be when both parties exchange money, the solicitor then sends money electronically to the seller’s solicitor and the money can be transferred on the same day.However, in France this exchange happens in the presence of the Notaires’s office, where both parties are present with their representatives. The Notaire will check that the fees have been cleared into his bank account and can then sign the contract to then be sent to the office accountant to deal with taxation. It is common for these to be dealt with the day after, and then the money is transferred to the vendor’s client account. Before releasing funds to the vendors, the Notaire will check that all debts have been identified, ensuring that he can safely send them.
If you are purchasing an apartment however, the Notaire can keep the funds for up to 2 weeks, as the managing company has this period to return a ‘Certificat de l’article 20’ confirming that the vendor does not owe any more money, and without this document, the Notaire cannot release the funds.
Do I need two witnesses to sign my Will in France?
In the UK we are familiar with the type of Will whereby only the last page is signed, and two witnesses are present to sign at the same time as you. In France, there are two types of Will, one where you can ask the Notaire to assist you and prepare the Will, where he will instruct you in the presence of two witnesses. The second type is called a ‘Holograph Will’, the only requirement for this is that you must handwrite the document, sign and date it too, there is no need to get two witnesses to certify your signature.However, you could get challenged on your ‘holograph Will’, because of your state of mind at the time of writing or that you were under pressure to name a specific beneficiary. As long as your Will complies with the ‘Hague convention’ your Will is valid, whichever option you choose. It is recommended to seek advice from a lawyer if you are unsure, but all real assets will be subject to French Inheritance law.
Bruce International are experts in French real estate, we can guide you through the buying process, pointing you in the direction of reliable lawyers to suit your requirements. From document types to causes, read how best to understand the French Law when buying a property on the French Riviera.
Bruce International Properties
Bruce International are a bespoke and professional real estate consultancy who offer a selection of exclusive apartments, houses and villas in the South of France; specifically the Côte d’Azur region. Our experts have a wealth of experience in the real estate industry and have provided a brief introduction into the legalities of buying a house in France.