Property Purchase Professionals
Find out about the different professionals involved when buying a property in France...
The Agent Immobilier (estate agent/realtor)
The Agent Immobilier is professionally qualified, and therefore has the right to a professional card (Carte Professionnelle), issued by the Préfecture. This card is the Agent Immobilier's licence to carry out property transactions (carte professionnelle de transaction sur immeubles et fonds de commerce). The Agent Immobilier also carries professional insurance, so that clients are protected.
Estate agents are usually local to an area with properties for sale within that area. The agent earns commission from the sale of the property and is obliged to do as best they can for both the seller and the buyer. The agent will try to obtain the best possible price for the property, but may often know what price the vendor will accept.
The agent should be able to give an estimation of all fees and the property charges the buyer will be responsible for when they become the owner.
Some agents contract independent sales personnel, Agent Commercials, to enable them to cover a wider area. Note these Agent Commercials are not Agent Immobiliers and therefore cannot perform the legal functions of an Agent Immobilier. Both Agent Immobiliers and Agent Commercials must carry an attestation professional referencing the Carte Professionelle number.
Property searchers/House hunters
Property searchers, as the title implies, search for a property which is within a price bracket and matches requirements of a buyer. Many offer a personal service, taking buyers to view the properties they have short-listed. Some charge a fee, while others take a percentage commission from the immobiler instead. Property searchers may perform no legal activities other than sourcing properties for sale.
The notaire is a public official, highly qualified in the French legal system, and is able to advise on property law, family and succession law, and corporate laws. The notaire has a title of Maitre.
The state confers powers on the notaire to legalise property purchase transactions, and provide security to the contracts they supervise. Notaries are liable for their professional acts.
The notaire is responsible for preparing the various documents, confirming the seller's title to the property, checking that there are no existing mortgages on the property, the final conveyance and the registration. The notaire has indemnity assurance, which provides a financial guarantee to the client.
The purchaser is free to choose their own notaire, but may use the same notaire as the vendor. The cost is the same regardless of the option chosen: if there are two notaires the fee is split between them.
- The Angloinfo Business Directory has lists of English-speaking notaires throughout the various regions of France
- See an online list of notaires in France
A mortgage broker works with various French banks and mortgage providers and acts as the buyer’s intermediary with the lender. Mortgage brokers and advisers carry their own professional indemnity insurance and must be registered with each bank and mortgage provider they represent.
Mortgage brokers receive their commission direct from the bank or lender they introduce business to. Most of those who are registered in France do not charge fees for their services, but a buyer should check this.
Architects and surveyors
A property survey may be requested by the buyer - a survey it is not standard procedure in France.
An architect or surveyor should be used to examine an older property or one to be renovated. They have experience in obtaining required permissions and certificates, and can give an estimation of the cost.
With information by Carole Bayliss Copyright © Carole & Tony Bayliss All Rights Reserved 2014 Updates and additions by Joan Jenkins, Gérante (Managing Director) ACTOUS IMMOBILIER SARL, 8 Grand Rue - 16240 Villefagnan