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English speaking notaire or translator?


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Hi - we are a step closer to purchasing our house in France (mid-way between Bordeaux and Perigueux) 🙂   There is just one notaire in the town who doesn't speak English.   The estate agent has been given us details of a translator and I think they would prefer us to use the local notaire (they mentioned that the vendor bought the house originally through this office (a different notaire who is now retired; a new notaire is in the same office since 2020) and that all the files are there).  I know that there are other advantages using the local notaire as they're familiar with the area etc.

Personally I would prefer an English speaking notaire so I can communicate directly rather than going through a third party.  It also means I'd need to check the availability of the interpreter each time before calling or meeting the notaire. Plus there'll be extra costs involved for every transaction etc (and the interpreter lives 40 mins away by car so I'm sure there'll be travel expenses incurred too).  I have emailed the interpreter to get an idea of what's involved and costs so waiting to hear back.

The only thing is that the English speaking notaires are only either in Bordeaux or Perigueux (which is fine for us as we'd be flying into Bordeaux anyway and can get the train to Perigueux if needed but I don't want to annoy the vendors by imposing extra travel on them).   

What would you recommend would be the best thing to do.   Any thoughts, suggestions or advice would be really appreciated.   

Many thanks

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Go with your gut. There's no reason why, in this day and age, the Notaires can't communicate with each other by email. Once you're happy with the final Compromis you can sign it at the 'local' Notaires office.

If you do decide to go with a translator, make sure they're court appointed. That way you can sign an English version of your contract which will be held, with the French version, at the Notaires office.

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Ah - so I could get a notaire in Bordeaux and they would send the Acte de Compromis to the local notaire for us and the vendor to sign together?  .   If that's the case, that sounds perfect (I was thinking the vendor would have to travel to Bordeaux to sign)🙂  thanks a mill 👍

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Same goes for the Acte de Vente....no need for anyone to "displace" themselves.

BTW do you still need to appoint someone to have power of attourney the way you did in the "old days"?  We were told this signatory could be a clerk or some such from the notaire's office.

What is the current procedure, DL?

 

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You can sign remotely from the UK from your own house.

https://www.notaires.fr/en/notarial-profession/role-notaries-and-his-principal-activities/power-attorney-notary-how-sign-online

You don’t have to be present. 
 

All you need to do is to find someone locally in the UK who speaks French to help you through the language process and sit beside you by your computer.

Other thoughts, an English speaking Notaire does not really bring anything to the table. It is a French transaction so French language will rule.

Or I guess, you could sign with the Notaire in Bordeaux remotely.

Forget what the agent is telling you they will do what is easiest for them. They have to earn their fees. And in France, most if not all don’t. Estate agents in France are the biggest laziest rip off merchants you could imagine.

I would never sell or buy through an Estate agent. But that is now beside the point.

You are the buyer….its your money and your life….YOU decide what is best for you. Not someone else.

 

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Wow - that's even better - didn't realise I could sign remotely.  That's unreal.  How the world has changed 🙂 That'll save us a fortune in travelling over and back.  That's really good to know and from the link you sent, looks really straight forward.  Thanks a million 😀

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Sorry I was called away before finishing. The main problem for us was dealing with huge document relating to the deeds. We paid an acquaintance to translate the whole set of documents and she hit many problems with legal terminology. I regret not having a full translation and professional advice.

  We survived the final meeting although I am certain that the selling family lied to us and the notaire was aware of the lies. If you pay for an interpreter make sure they are not connected with the sellers or the notaire.

  In the end you will need to trust your own judgement. I hope all goes well and you have a happy result. We did.

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Thanks a mill Hectorsdad.   That's good to know re the importance of having full translation of the documents and making sure there's no connection.  I'll definitely make sure to do that.  Really glad it worked out for you and fingers crossed with all the great advice on this site, I'll be over there soon 🙂  Many thanks and much appreciated.

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Hello Edel:

I am a French bilingual US-educated (MBA) real estate consultant/agent with my own carte (licensed broker) and 14 years experience. I primarily act as a buyer's agent for English-speaking customers. Based on my experience, here is what I would tell a customer in your situation:

1) Given your expressed needs, I strongly recommend that you hire a bilingual notaire, or even a Franco-British notaire. I dont know how many there are, but I know one I have worked a few times with - it went really well. It is also possible to work with a notaire employing bilingual/binational staff - as the "clerc de notaire" does most of th work, that could work. And when you're with the notaire in-person, the clerc can act as a translator.

2) A very important fact: the notaire does NOT have to be local. In France, notaires can act anywhere in the country. 95% of notaire offices are equipped with videoconferencing tools (thansk to Covid). Which will make it easier to find the right notaire: you can look anywhere in France! (As a matter of fact, a good number of French people, the wealthiest who deal regularly with a notaire have "their own" notaire, which they use for all notaire business - because they trust him/her.)

I would ask the UK embassy for names of notaires - I have never done that, but there is no downside in trying...

3) Every transaction is a new transaction for a notaire. Menaing it doesn't matter that the house has been sold/bought at any given notaire. The plus here is that the notaire has a quicker access to some of the documents - but most need to be updated anyway, and the notaire HAS to  get newly produced documents anyway.

4) About translation: you may want to translate the important documents (compromis first, that's the most crcuail one, and acte authentique later - which contains almos the same content). I would, for peace of mind. But you will always want your advisor (noatire, clerc, biligual agent, lawyer) to trake you through it parapgraph by paragraph and explain - before the actual signing meeting. It'll take you an hour, worth it. IMHO dont pay a translator to assist you during the process or the meeting - it's not worth it. And dont forget: "Google translate" is now 95% efficient. At zero cost. Useful also for email exchanges.

Hope that helps. BTW: I can provide you with the names of the notaires I mentioned in the post. Just ask!

[This is my first post on this forum, so please excuse possible protocol errors...] 

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13 minutes ago, Pierre Guillery said:

Hello Edel:

I am a French bilingual US-educated (MBA) real estate consultant/agent with my own carte (licensed broker) and 14 years experience. I primarily act as a buyer's agent for English-speaking customers. Based on my experience, here is what I would tell a customer in your situation:

1) Given your expressed needs, I strongly recommend that you hire a bilingual notaire, or even a Franco-British notaire

There is no such thing as bilingual. AI might be bilingual sooner or later but not humans. You always favor one language.
 

There will always be a loss in translation. And bare in mind the proceedings will be in French anyway. That is the rules in France.

There lies your problem. 
 

Buying a house in a foreign country (particularly France) is high risk. But that is the risk you take when buying abroad.

I would not waste my time and energy on a supposedly bilingual notaire. Well unless you are an American buying a 10 million property in St Tropez.

In the op’s part of France they are used to dealing with English folks. So the op will get through it.

BTW, never read any of our documents relating to the purchase of the house.

Just make sure you know your boundaries and that people or servitudes don’t have access to your land.

 

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Thanks a mill Pierre (and I'm honoured that your first email is a response to my query :)).   Really appreciate all the info and insight you've given. It's really good to know all those points from someone who knows and has experience of the system.

ALBF and Anotherbanana - thanks a mill for your info also.  Fingers crossed we'll get to the process soon and all the info you have given me here is so valuable and will really help us to go in with our eyes open and be more confident in what we're doing.  Thanks so much for all the help.   

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