The Acte de Vente or Acte Authentique is the final contract to be signed by the buyer and seller, when a property is bought in France, and must be witnessed by a notaire. Those who will need to be present include the buyer, the seller and the notaire. If both the buyer and the seller have a notaire only one needs to attend. It is possible to appoint a power of attorney (see below).

The Acte de Vente will usually be signed within three to four months from signing the Compromis de Vente for re-sale properties. For new build properties it depends on the original contract. The process can be fairly quick too, if the developer has already purchased the land and obtained planning permission.

Contract information
Much of the same information is covered in this contract as the Compromis de Vente. Buyers will need to provide original birth, marriage and divorce certificates. Differences include the fact that the Acte de Vente has a fuller description of the property, details of mortgage loans, details of insurance policies, reports on lead, asbestos, termites etc., and a breakdown of the tax payable by the seller.

Draft copy and translation
A draft of the contract will be sent to the vendor prior to signing and all details must be clear to them before the signing date. If necessary, a professional translator can be used to translate the contract and attend the signing (though the cost of this will be charged to person requiring the translation). If you are looking for a French translator search our FrenchEntrée Directory.

Date of signing
A date will have been fixed for the signing, but many factors can cause it to change so it is recommended to keep in touch with the estate agent and notaire to ensure things are running to schedule or to alter your travel and signing arrangements if necessary.

Power of Attorney
The contract must by law be signed in France. It is possible to appoint a power of attorney who could attend the signing on your behalf. This could either be a trusted friend or family member, or the notaire’s clerk but it cannot be the estate agent. The Power of Attorney document will need to be witnessed by a UK notary, public or solicitor.

Money Arrangements
By the time the contract is signed, the buyer should have made all the necessary arrangements to fund the purchase and pay the fees. This includes taxes, notaire’s fees, and the first insurance premium. All the necessary funds should have been transferred from the buyer to the notaire’s bank account, and the notaire will also need to release money for the initial mortgage payments if necessary.

It is worth viewing your property on the day of signing the contract because the Acte de Vente has a clause saying “sold as seen on signing date”. A good notaire will prepare you for the signing of the Acte de Vente and ensure that there are no last minute problems. See our article on The role of the notaire.

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