There is understandable confusion about this point because it has become common usage to refer to the frais d’acquisition or property transaction fees by the more familiar term “frais de notaire”, when in fact most of these monies are collected by the notaire acting on behalf of the state. They function as a sort of clearing house to settle all pertinent tax, fees and services due. The notaire only gets to keep a fraction as compensation for his work. The notaire doesn’t get to pick these percentages at random; they are set in a predetermined schedule of charges.

As a rule of thumb, in the purchase of a home in France the buyer generally pays the fees. In some select cases, the seller may agree to pay a share, mostly when a professional seller or property developer is involved. The fees, based on tax bands, vary according to the type of property, the possible inclusion of furniture, and the date of construction of the building.

Notaires oversee the transferring of funds and ensure that all the taxes and fees are paid in full; items such as departmental land registration tax, applicable tax pertaining to the local council or the collection and recovery of levies in favour of the trésor public. They will also secure the funds for any insurance payments and repayment of the mortgage if applicable – there are some additional fees due when the buyer has taken out a mortgage. Value added tax is payable on the total amount of the fees. The notaire also advances the disbursements or débours of the services of other professionals or certain public services to pay for various services and to obtain documents from the authorities required for the sale (mortgage search, town planning documents, copies of official records, etc.)

As for the notaire’s compensation or emolument, they are based on a scale of charges set by the state, and are proportional to the price of the property. They are set by price brackets, the percentage gradually decreasing according to the value of the property. As a rule of thumb, the percentage is usually around 0,825%. There can also be additional emoluments due in cases where specific formalities are required by law or regulations to be conducted by the notaire prior or after the sale, such as obtaining records of birth and marital status, or discharging the right of first refusal, for example.

See also: Notaires can offer a discount on their fees

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