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Old 03.11.2010, 09:25
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Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

We are in the process of buying our first house here in CH and everything in going well.

Today the estate agent has informed me that we have two options when we go to the notary to sign the contract in a few weeks.

1. Get someone to translate the contract (approx 1kCHF), we sign.
2. Give authority to a German speaker who will sign the contract on our behalf.

Option 2 sounds strange to me and I was wondering if this is normal and if anyone has had a similar experience.

Thanks

A
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Old 03.11.2010, 09:41
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

Get the contract in german beforehand. Get someone to translate /go through it for you sowly - make notes, ask questions etc. One you are happy you can go to the Notariat and essentially make sure the contract is the same as the one you've been through. And take someone along you trust who speaks German. Don't trust the agent to do any assistance or translating or accept any 'oh that's normal here' etc
In our case the contract was based on standard text generated by the Notary based on a form found here to fill in with the details ("Formular für die Übermittlung von Kaufvertragsangaben") and the Notariat makes the actual contract from that - you could maybe get a copy of that as well from the Notariat in advance so you can see what the other side has proposed, especially where there are choices etc. You can also then notice any extra sections etc added that weren't in the form. In our case the agent was a pain and the Notariat wonderfully helpful in the days leading up to the signing, with lots of docs being emailed around for review etc.
Be aware also that any Reservation contract with deposit etc is not legally binding (on either side). Although they are common practice we refused to pay tens of thousands of CHF's to a third party based on a non legally binding contract, where they have a big chunk your money and then negotiate contract terms. The only legal contract for a house purchase is the one done at the notary.
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Old 03.11.2010, 09:53
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

We were in the same position last year, and made a power of attorney to my boss and she signed the contract for us... unfortunately we still get to pay the mortgage ourtselves she wouldn't take over that too
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Old 03.11.2010, 10:07
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

Just keep in mind each party has a different interest. Including your bank. They care that the house is not so overvalued that they are exposed if you default on your debt, and that you can likely pay it off.

Get someone on your side who knows the house buying game here.
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Old 03.11.2010, 09:52
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

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We are in the process of buying our first house here in CH and everything in going well.

Today the estate agent has informed me that we have two options when we go to the notary to sign the contract in a few weeks.

1. Get someone to translate the contract (approx 1kCHF), we sign.
2. Give authority to a German speaker who will sign the contract on our behalf.

Option 2 sounds strange to me and I was wondering if this is normal and if anyone has had a similar experience.

Thanks

A
I would not sign anything you do not understand. An estate agent is not somoeone I would trust at all and I do not believe option 2 is posssible.

Has your bank seen the sales contract? I would assume you are dealing with someone who speaks English regarding the financing of your house.

My first suggestion would be to ask someone from the notary's office to translate it for you. The second would be to sit down with the financial advisor at your bank.
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Old 03.11.2010, 10:00
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

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I would not sign anything you do not understand. An estate agent is not somoeone I would trust at all and I do not believe option 2 is posssible.

Has your bank seen the sales contract? I would assume you are dealing with someone who speaks English regarding the financing of your house.

My first suggestion would be to ask someone from the notary's office to translate it for you. The second would be to sit down with the financial advisor at your bank.
Thanks all for the advice.

Yes, the bank manager speaks perfect English as he is Swiss/Irish and has already suggested some changes that the estate deemed 'normal'.

I guess estate agents are the same everywhere - even in CH
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Old 03.11.2010, 10:00
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

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1. Get someone to translate the contract (approx 1kCHF), we sign.
2. Give authority to a German speaker who will sign the contract on our behalf.
The notary public needs the person signing the contract to understand what he is signing. So either the contract gets translated and you can read the translation and sign the contract yourself, or if you want to spare the cost of translation and trust a German speaker, you can give him a limited power of attorney to sign the contract on your behalf.

At the end of the day, if you are paying hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs for a property, I would not be to stingy on the translation and I would have a German speaker along for the appointment before the notary public.
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Old 03.11.2010, 10:10
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

Our Notary provided a translator and also sent the contract out ahead of time in English so we could properly review it with the bank (first time buying in Switzerland) Our sellers were doing it alone though so no confusing agents to deal with. The cost of the translator was negligible and certainly not 1000chf. The notar spoke better English than the translator but has to be impartial. The translator basically read us the English copy we had in front of us. The bank had already confirmed that both copies were the same etc etc. It really doesn't have to be so complicated. Maybe you could ask the bank to speak to the Notar and see what they advice (I am sure they have a list and can have it trabslated pre signing)

hth and good luck (it is scarily easy in the end)

Caz
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Old 03.11.2010, 10:35
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

Don't waste your money getting an official translation. Unless you're an expert in Swiss law, it won't add any value.

We took the German contract to our lawyer. She went through the terms with us, explaining what they meant in simple English, and made a few recommendations. Total cost ~150CHF.

The recommended changes were agreed with the vendor, who redrafted the contract.

We then went to the Notar's office, with a friend who agreed to be our translator. His signature meant that there was someone fluent in German, representing us, who had explained the contract. It prevents us claiming that the contract is invalid because "we didn't understand".

As it happened, the Notar and the vendor were all fluent English speakers, so we did the whole thing in English. The Notar even went through the contract and explained it in English. However, it was necessary for our friend to be present for all to be legally valid.

All very simple.
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Old 17.02.2015, 15:15
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

It sounds like negotiation of the actual/exact terms of the contract doesn't happen until after a price has been agreed upon and a reservation (Vorverkauf) signed (perhaps even with reservation fee paid).

Question - how do you feel comfortable signing a Vorverkauf and paying a reservation fee when you haven't negotiation the terms of the contract? Or is the reservation fee refundable (usually) if the buyer and seller cannot later agree to the contract?

I already ready from EF that one can negotiate the exact terms of the reservation payment, so again, the same question - do you make an offer first before this? or do you set out the terms on reservation payment with your offer?

It just seems strange to me that you would give an offer without knowing the terms of the reservation payment or the actual contract wording. I'm confused.
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Old 17.02.2015, 15:40
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

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It sounds like negotiation of the actual/exact terms of the contract doesn't happen until after a price has been agreed upon and a reservation (Vorverkauf) signed (perhaps even with reservation fee paid).

Question - how do you feel comfortable signing a Vorverkauf and paying a reservation fee when you haven't negotiation the terms of the contract? Or is the reservation fee refundable (usually) if the buyer and seller cannot later agree to the contract?

I already ready from EF that one can negotiate the exact terms of the reservation payment, so again, the same question - do you make an offer first before this? or do you set out the terms on reservation payment with your offer?

It just seems strange to me that you would give an offer without knowing the terms of the reservation payment or the actual contract wording. I'm confused.
After 5 years I'd hope he/she got it sorted out by now.

Can't help a lot as we bought our place with only 2 weeks before the handover so didn't need to put down a reservation fee. But there are some threads here on the forum about the subject iirc.

Also ask for a notary who speaks English and can go through the contract with you at the signing. That's what we had and he was very careful to make sure we understood each section before we moved on to the next. We had a few minor changes which he had his staff alter before we did the final signing of the contract.

Last edited by Medea Fleecestealer; 18.02.2015 at 11:13.
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Old 18.02.2015, 11:12
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

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It sounds like negotiation of the actual/exact terms of the contract doesn't happen until after a price has been agreed upon and a reservation (Vorverkauf) signed (perhaps even with reservation fee paid).

Question - how do you feel comfortable signing a Vorverkauf and paying a reservation fee when you haven't negotiation the terms of the contract? Or is the reservation fee refundable (usually) if the buyer and seller cannot later agree to the contract?

I already ready from EF that one can negotiate the exact terms of the reservation payment, so again, the same question - do you make an offer first before this? or do you set out the terms on reservation payment with your offer?

It just seems strange to me that you would give an offer without knowing the terms of the reservation payment or the actual contract wording. I'm confused.
I would negotiate all the terms before signing and paying anything.
Reservation deposit can be very difficult to recover, and the penalty fee can be quite hefty.
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Old 18.02.2015, 14:55
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Re: Translation of house purchase contract at Notary Question

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Today the estate agent has informed me that we have two options when we go to the notary to sign the contract in a few weeks.

1. Get someone to translate the contract (approx 1kCHF), we sign.
2. Give authority to a German speaker who will sign the contract on our behalf.

Option 2 sounds strange to me and I was wondering if this is normal and if anyone has had a similar experience.
Just for anyone else who might stumble on this, I've experienced both options as the interpreter, the most recent one I worked on had option 2.

Given the length and complexity of these contracts, I'd be really surprised if the translation alone were as little as CHF 1k. You're probably looking at CHF 300-500 for the interpreting for the notary's meeting, depending how long it takes. A package including full translation and interpreting generally comes in around CHF 3-4k. Not much really, considering the amounts of money involved in buying the property, the notary's fees are often more!
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