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Old 09.03.2015, 08:05
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Property Lawyer in France

Hi all,

We are in the process of buying an apartment in France (saint-genis, close to Geneva). We are going to sign a contract this Thursday (March 12th). We know nothing about property law and most likely there will be a lot of specific terminology and will also be in French. There are also a lot of technical text that are in french and we don't understand them.

As we don't want to have any surprises (based on what I've read here this seems to be common) I was wondering if anyone can recommend a property lawyer who would look after our interests. It is best if he/she is located in Ferney-Voltaire or Saint-genis.

As some have stated in other threads, we are not looking for a notary since this person is more evaluating and confirming the legality of the situation not really focusing on the buyers' best interest. In my case the notary is actually selected by the seller and we don't know them.

Any recommendations?

Also there is only 3 days before the signing, is it normal that we have not received the contract yet?

Thanks a lot,
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Old 09.03.2015, 08:16
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

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Hi all,

We are in the process of buying an apartment in France (saint-genis, close to Geneva). We are going to sign a contract this Thursday (March 12th). We know nothing about property law and most likely there will be a lot of specific terminology and will also be in French. There are also a lot of technical text that are in french and we don't understand them.

As we don't want to have any surprises (based on what I've read here this seems to be common) I was wondering if anyone can recommend a property lawyer who would look after our interests. It is best if he/she is located in Ferney-Voltaire or Saint-genis.

As some have stated in other threads, we are not looking for a notary since this person is more evaluating and confirming the legality of the situation not really focusing on the buyers' best interest. In my case the notary is actually selected by the seller and we don't know them.

Any recommendations?

Also there is only 3 days before the signing, is it normal that we have not received the contract yet?

Thanks a lot,

Signing something legal with financial ramifications without understanding anything or much is just plain STUPID.

You need a lawyer, paid for by yopu to protect your interests.

If you do decide to go ahead, please DO NOT come back here complaining in 2 weeks time how unfair life is.
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Old 09.03.2015, 08:36
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

All I can say from my experience is that here in Geneva the lawyer sent the contractual text so we could read & request amendments the week before the signing.
Don't know her but this one says she speaks English so give her a ring today & see if she can help you.
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Old 09.03.2015, 08:38
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

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Signing something legal with financial ramifications without understanding anything or much is just plain STUPID.

You need a lawyer, paid for by yopu to protect your interests.

If you do decide to go ahead, please DO NOT come back here complaining in 2 weeks time how unfair life is.
Didn't bother to read the past did you.
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Old 09.03.2015, 09:09
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

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I was wondering if anyone can recommend a property lawyer who would look after our interests.
...
As some have stated in other threads, we are not looking for a notary since this person is more evaluating and confirming the legality of the situation not really focusing on the buyers' best interest.
It's the job of the notary to ensure that nothing is overlooked on any front, so to protect the interests of all parties. Note that this also includes the estate agent to whom you'll have already paid the deposit (that's if one was involved, of course) and who is an integral part of the process of sale.

It's not considered necessary or usual for any party to have their own lawyer involved as well. If nothing else it would make the process much more complicated and probably delay it as well.

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Also there is only 3 days before the signing, is it normal that we have not received the contract yet?
Yes. You won't "receive" it at all. When you, the seller and the estate agent meet with the notary you'll go through each page of the contract and it will be explained to everyone, after which you'll have to sign/initial every single page, usually on four copies. So it will take some time, like an hour or two, to complete the process.

What is essential at this point, and should have been taken into account by the notary, is that the explanations are given in a language you can understand. If the notary can't speak English then a translator may be needed, so you should check that this has been arranged one way or another.
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Old 09.03.2015, 09:47
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

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It's the job of the notary to ensure that nothing is overlooked on any front, so to protect the interests of all parties. Note that this also includes the estate agent to whom you'll have already paid the deposit (that's if one was involved, of course) and who is an integral part of the process of sale.

It's not considered necessary or usual for any party to have their own lawyer involved as well. If nothing else it would make the process much more complicated and probably delay it as well.


Yes. You won't "receive" it at all. When you, the seller and the estate agent meet with the notary you'll go through each page of the contract and it will be explained to everyone, after which you'll have to sign/initial every single page, usually on four copies. So it will take some time, like an hour or two, to complete the process.

What is essential at this point, and should have been taken into account by the notary, is that the explanations are given in a language you can understand. If the notary can't speak English then a translator may be needed, so you should check that this has been arranged one way or another.

In France ?????? If there is one party that speaks and understands French and knows the notary and one party that doesn't, i wonder how fair it really can be !
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Old 09.03.2015, 10:04
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

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In France ?????? If there is one party that speaks and understands French and knows the notary and one party that doesn't, i wonder how fair it really can be !
Have you ever bought a house in France?

You don't seem to realise that the notary is legally obliged to be certain that all parties have fully understood the contract details. That's their job. Impartiality is at the core of the notary concept.

And they're chosen by all parties too; although the estate agent may suggest a local notary they often work with, any other party could also do so, and the choice must be by mutual consent. Your implication that the notary is acting for the seller is simply wrong.
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Old 09.03.2015, 10:50
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

When we bought our property in France, I had the same initial reaction -- that I needed an English-speaking lawyer to represent my interests and make sure there were no surprises. I got several eye-wateringly expensive quotes for the advice from lawyers based in the UK who focus on the expat market, but all of the advice I got locally was that it was totally unnecessary.

As pointed out here, the duty of a notaire is to act impartially and ensure that everyone's interests are represented. They will read, out loud, every word of the contract that you sign and they will patiently clarify anything you don't understand.

The most important thing, if you don't speak French, is to either 1) find a notaire who is willing to speak English, or 2) to find a translator who can translate what a French-speaking notaire is saying. In my experience, becoming a notaire is quite a traditional career and many do not speak English -- so finding a translator is a better bet.

Our notaire was very accommodating -- we explained that my French wasn't good, and he provided a draft copy of the contract a few days in advance so I could read it over at leisure and prepare a list of any questions I had. In the end, our meeting (with the sellers of the property, estate agent, and notaire) took just under two hours and was a very relaxed, friendly encounter.

The process of buying property in France is very different than in the US or UK. Good luck!
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Old 09.03.2015, 11:24
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

By his own admision, trhe guy understands very little.

How many posts are their on this forum saying don't sign if you dson't understand, and if you do, don't come back bitching ?

The French notary will speak French, maybe English and for something of this magnitude, i really would want somebody who spoke excellent English, not an approximation which is why i said the guy was stupid if he considers buying a property without proper advice in a languange he understands.

Once it's signed, it's signed and whatever he may claim about not understanding afterwards, i'm sure the notary will be able to protect himself perfectly adequately, after all, it's his profession.

Anyway good luck with your purchase and i hope it works out for you as you wish, but the dice are not loaded in your favour in the least.
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Old 09.03.2015, 11:53
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

If you did want to take independent, English-speaking legal advice, here are the links I had from when I did my research a few years ago:

http://www.ashtonkcj.co.uk/french-legal-services/

http://www.frenchlawuk.co.uk/

http://www.russell-cooke.co.uk/servi...ail.cfm?id=126

No personal experience with any of them, and like I said, their proposed fees were very high. Still, I thought I would pass the links along in case they are helpful.
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Old 24.03.2015, 20:42
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Re: Property Lawyer in France

Hi everyone,

Thank you neddy, Ace1 and Village Idiot for useful information.

In the end we decided to choose a different notaire from the one proposed by the sellers to represent us. So there are two different notaire working on this case, each representing one party.

We are now in the 7 days period after signing the compromis that we have the right of withdrawal. I have a couple of questions, and would be thankful if anyone helps.

1. We have received the Appel de Fonds for the period of 01.01.2015 to 31.03.2015 , but nothing for prior to this time. It is mentioned on the same document that:

"Etat global des impayes de charges au sein de la copropriete
Existence d'un impaye oui
Montant: 84891.17 Euro"

"Etat global de la dette syndicat vis-a-vis de fournisseurs
Existence d'un dette oui
Montant 123111.43 Euro"
I don't understand if this means that the apartment owes this money to the syndicate? how can I know if they owe charges to the syndicate for this property?

2. The owner did not provide the diagnostics for "MERUL" and "TERMITE" and claimed that they are not required for properties in Saint-Genis. Any one know if this is true? or we should ask for this diagnostics?

Thanks in advance,
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Old 25.03.2015, 22:43
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question about "Compremis de vente"

Hi everyone,

We have just signed a compremis for an apartment in Saint-genis (france). We have 7 days to retract without any penalty and I have two questions about it:

1. We have received the Appel de Fonds for the period of 01.01.2015 to 31.03.2015 , but nothing for prior to this time. It is mentioned on the same document that:

"Etat global des impayes de charges au sein de la copropriete
Existence d'un impaye oui
Montant: 84891.17 Euro"

"Etat global de la dette syndicat vis-a-vis de fournisseurs
Existence d'un dette oui
Montant 123111.43 Euro"
I don't understand if this means that the apartment owes this money to the syndicate? how can I know if they owe charges to the syndicate for this property?

2. The owner did not provide the diagnostics for "MERUL" and "TERMITE" and claimed that they are not required for properties in Saint-Genis. Any one know if this is true? or we should ask for this diagnostics?

Thanks in advance,
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