When the notaire is also the agent

I am looking at buying a property that is being sold through the local notaire’s office. They have told me my offer is acceptable, and quoted me a lump sum on top which covers everything including their commission as an agent. It is not itemised.

I have reservations about the potential conflict of interest where the notaire is also the agent.

Also some local residents have advised me that they would not choose the local notaire.

So does anyone have experience of telling the notaire that they are happy to pay them in their capacity as the agent - which is about 4% - but that they are appointing another notaire to carry out the official process of completing the sale?

Or will this go down like a lead balloon and possibly stop the potential sale? It shouldn’t, but …

I’m sure others will chime in… but, personally I cannot see anything wrong with asking the notaire for a breakdown of the lump-sum.


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I agree with Stella.

Just ask for the break down and 4% commission is not that high.

The cost will likely be exactly the same in any case. Presumably the seller intends to use that notaire, since they chose to advertise the property through him. When seller and buyer opt to use different notaires, the two notaires simply split the fee (not including the 4% agency fee of course). Which the buyer always pays.

Notaires are quasi-state officials, appointed by the state even tho’ operating as independent self-employed professional. They are heavily regulated and able to manage acting as agent and notaire without conflict.

I would try to establish why local people have advised against this notaire, as may well be for reasons that are completely irrelevant to your purchase.


This sounds like an executor sale which is often the case where a Notaire is involved (has to be involved) in the sale of the property. If that’s the case, I can understand some of the local residents view that they would not choose that Notaire but sometimes there is no choice in the matter. As othrs have said, the Notaire is highly regulated and there can be no confilct of interest as would be perhaps be the case in the UK with a Solicitor acting for both sides. The Notaire’s function is to merely ensure the correct tax is collected…

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And to draw up the legal paperwork, i.e. deeds, clauses etc

No, it is a normal sale. Notaires have moved into estate agency as this link shows you. They are also now free to set their levels of commission as an agent. Whatever else, the fact that they stand to profit from completing the sale means there is a potential conflict of interest. It also seems from looking at sites that detail the property buying process in France that choosing your own notaire, particularly if you can get recommendations from other foreign buyers in the same area, is wise.

I’m really interested to know if someone has bought through a notaire where that notaire is also the immobilier and paidcthem just the commission but opted for a third party notaire, because that would be my preference. I also suspect it won’t be entirely well-received. Nevertheless I feel it is prudent.

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However, you won’t be looking at like-for-like, unless you know the breakdown of the lump sum they have quoted to you…

Have a chat… it is a reasonable request …and might help clear the air…

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In truth, I doubt they would be overly bothered.

No, I don’t suppose they would. In fact it would probably be the Secretary/Receptionist who can answer the question… the figures will all be on file and Notaires have to be transparent …

It doesn’t work like that though. As said above - when the seller and buyer use different notaires, the buyer pays the fees and the two notaires split the fee between them. So if the seller uses that notaire, he’ll receive half the fee, and you as the buyer are liable for the full transaction fee. By all means use a different notaire but it won’t change the fee.

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You misunderstand me. I know the fees will remain the same and fees are not my issue. A notaire independent from the agent, who is also a notaire, is what I am seeking, because (i) using the notaire who is also the agent means a potential conflict of interest, and (ii) local knowledge of property transactions by others suggest to me that I should choose a different

I simply wondered if anyone else had done this.

Thinking about, in fact both properties we’ve bought in France have been like that… ie using a single notaire shared by us and the seller. For the first one we did find the place through a different estate agent, who did very little in the whole process and I don’t recall seeing/speaking to them much once we’d signed the compromis. But the second house was all through one notaire. There is only one within a 40km radius so it made it all much simpler.

we used same notaire no problems. its actually easier. but as the agent and both notaire im not sure, i would have done it but we know the notaire hes local and very well liked

This does go on and on… but it gives a lot of info… you do need to identify the sums you are being asked to pay for… and then see how they relate…


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I really don’t see any problem in that. Buyer and seller are quite entitled to choose their own notaire and I don’t think it’s at all uncommon to use different ones. For instance when a family has their own family notaire that they always use for everything, If neither party has their own regular notaire they tend to use the same one because the fewer parties involved, the simpler things tend to be, but that’s all. I believe notaires make a very modest fee out of property sales, it’s more of a public service than a money spinner, so I wouldn’t imagine he would mind at all.

Sorry, I misunderstood you previously, it sounded as if you were expecting that by using a different notaire you would ultimately pay the notaire-agent nothing except his commission, which wouldn’t be possible.

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We have bought and sold 9 properties since we have been here - some have involved agents - some saw the notiare acting as agent - in every case the same notiare acted for both buyer and seller - never had any issues. As others have already said, notiares are so highly regulated, you are very unlikely to have any problems.
Having said that, if the locals are suggesting that you don’t use this practice, they may well have inside information- I am thinking delays / incompetence etc. ?
What exactly have they said?

Sorry notaires! iPad doing its autocorrect thing…

And… I really wouldn’t believe everything you read !!