Thursday, April 28, 2011

French property title deeds

Several clients have recently asked me about the 'title deeds' to their French property, as they have not received anything from the Notaire many weeks or even months after completion of the purchase of their property. This is at best unusual and could be worrying as it is the titre de propriété which sets out who is the owner and under what conditions the property was purchased.

When buying a French property, the Notaire handling the transaction will first prepare a pre-contract known as the compromis de vente which sets out the terms under which the buyer intends to buy the property, with details of how it will be financed (single payment, mortgage etc) and any conditional clauses (clauses suspensives) the parties may have agreed to - such as buying subject to a satisfactory survey or obtaining a mortgage. The buyer also has a period of reflexion before he is finally committed to buying.

If all goes well, the Notaire will proceed to the next stage - preparation of the acte finale which repeats much of the information contained in the compromis de vente but this is the final contract setting out the terms under which the buyer agrees to buy and the vendor agrees to sell. The transaction is completed once all parties have signed this document.

It is at this point that the buyer becomes the owner of the property and the Notaire will give him several originals of a signed attestation proving that he is the new owner. Meanwhile copies of the acte finale and supporting documents are sent to the nearest land registry (bureau des hypothèques) in order to register the sale and details of the new ownership. (The new owner will need the attestation for matters such as taking over the utilities, getting a phone installed etc.)

The process may take several weeks but once the transaction has been duly registered, the Notaire should send a copy of the titre de propriété (title deeds) to the new owner, together with his final account (fees and taxes associated with completing the transaction). If you have not received a copy of the titre de propriété after say, six months, you should contact your Notaire.

Further information about the procedures for buying French property is available from us (sent as an email attachment in Word) on request at no charge.