Filed under : Investor's Corner

Role of the Notaire

Who and what exactly is a notaire?

As you’re looking into buying a property in France, one of the most crucial people with whom you will interact throughout the buying process is the notaire. You may be wondering who the notaire is and what his or her role may be in the process.

The notaire is a legal professional with duties relating to law governing: family, real estate, inheritance, business, and local authorities. Held responsible for the content, composition, validity and accuracy of the contracts, the notaire is integral to the entire transfer of ownership for French property. The amount paid to the notaire when purchasing existing real estate (as opposed to new build) is generally about 7% of the purchase price of the property if you are purchasing with a mortgage. It’s approximately 5% of the purchase price if you are a cash buyer. This sum includes the notaires fees, duties paid to the national and local French government, and the cost of locating and obtaining necessary documentation.

A notaire composes the deed for the transfer of property and guarantees the enforceability of the contract. The notaire also assists in valuation of the property, verifying the seller’s title of property, ensures that the legally required property checks are carried out, and is meant to facilitate the procedure overall.

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European Economic Outlook for 2011

Excerpts from the press interview with Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB & Vítor Constâncio, Vice-President of the ECB - 3 February 2011

  • Based on its regular economic and monetary analyses, the Governing Council confirmed that the current key ECB interest rates still remain appropriate. It therefore decided to leave them unchanged. Our monetary analysis indicates that inflationary pressures over the medium to long term should remain contained. Inflation expectations remain firmly anchored in line with our aim of keeping inflation rates below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.
  • Overall, we expect price stability to be maintained over the medium term, and the current monetary policy stance remains accommodative.
  • Turning to fiscal policies, it is now essential that all governments fully implement their fiscal consolidation plans in 2011. Where necessary, additional corrective measures must be implemented swiftly to ensure progress in achieving fiscal sustainability.  Experience shows that expenditure restraint is an important step towards achieving and maintaining fiscal soundness, notably when enshrined in binding domestic policy rules.
  • Substantial and far-reaching structural reforms, complementing fiscal adjustment, should be urgently implemented to improve the prospects for higher sustainable growth and employment. Major reforms are particularly necessary in those countries that have experienced a loss of competitiveness in the past or that are suffering from high fiscal and external deficits. Sound balance sheets, effective risk management and transparent, robust business models remain key to strengthening banks’ resilience to shocks and to ensuring adequate access to finance, thereby laying the foundations for sustainable growth and financial stability.

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Key French Tax Deadlines for 2011

Key French tax deadlines to note for 2011

30/04/2011 is the deadline to submit :

  • 2010 VAT declaration for French leasebacks
  • 2010 income declaration for furnished French rental property
  • 2010 French income tax declaration for French "Société Civile Immobilière" or “SCI”s

15/05/2011 is the deadline to submit the 2010 declaration of foreign company shareholders (or be subject to the 3% tax)

31/05/2011 is the deadline for French residents to submit their 2010 income tax declarations

15/06/2011 is the deadline to submit your 2010 declaration for the French “Impot sur la fortune” or “Wealth tax” if you are a French resident

30/06/2011 is the deadline for non-residents to submit their French income tax declarations for 2010

15/09/2011 is the deadline to pay your 2010 income tax bill

15/10/2011 is the deadline to pay your 2010 property tax bill or "Taxe fonciere"

15/11/2011 is the deadline to pay your 2010 occupation tax or “Taxe d’habitacion”

15/12/2011 is the deadline to pay your 2010 professional tax or “Taxe professionelle”

The Complete Mortgage Process

Contrary to mortgage processes in countries such as the United States and the UK, the French mortgage process requires a comprehensive study of the buyer’s financial profile. This is to reassure the banks that the borrowers will be financially stable enough to meet all the mortgage payments throughout the duration of the mortgage.

Here is a list of the essential documents that are required to complete a French mortgage application:

- Signed copy of the “compromise” or “promesse de vente” for existing property or reservation contract if new build
- Passports and marriage/divorce certificates, recent utility bill to prove home address
- Proof of income through payslips and tax returns or company P&L statements if self employed
- Last three months’ bank statements
- Clear indication of where funds for the mortgage deposits will come from
- Existing mortgage and loan statements
- Documents to demonstrate value of all assets (other properties, investment portfolios, retirement savings, etc.)
- Life insurance request form

While the process is more time consuming, it follows a common sense lending approach that has kept France out of the subprime crisis that proved disastrous for many countries in 2009.

French Property Taxes

There are two main types of taxes on French residential properties to be aware of : property taxes (taxe fonciére) and residential taxes (taxe d’habitation). Whether or not you reside in the property, the owner is required to pay the taxes each year, which are distributed to various community projects such as street cleaning, maintenance of school and other community facilities, and rubbish collection. The owner of the property is liable for the property taxes, while the residential taxes can be charged back to the occupier (renter.)


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