Like most markets around the world, there has been a major ‘coronavirus effect’ on Paris real estate transactions.

And with all Parisians in confinement, notaries are being forced to find new ways of working.

56Paris interviews an expert notary, to find out how they are dealing with the current situation, and what they expect for the future.

The notaries of Paris

In many aspects of life and law, France uses a unique system of notaries.

This method can sometimes seem surprising to those buying property here for the first time.

Although self-employed, notaries are public officials with legal training who act on behalf of the state. Notaries who work in real estate oversee all property transactions and guarantee the necessary legal certainty.

When buying or selling property in France, the services of a notary are essential. There is no other way to proceed on either side of the transaction.

Yet Covid-19 has still impacted their essential services, as the closing process depends on contributions from other professionals who are unable to provide them during this unprecedented time.

The latest from an expert notary

56Paris: As a notary in the Île-de-France region, are you still able to work on your current real estate transactions?

Notary: Yes, in part. Although we are generally closed to the public, our work is continuing behind the scenes. We are using all the resources available as best we can. This includes videoconferencing and holding meetings by telephone wherever possible.

But the processing of our files is also dependent on responses from government offices, building management companies and banks.

56Paris: Now Paris is in confinement, what reactions are you noticing from buyer and sellers?

Notary: At this stage, I’ve noticed buyers are still committed to going through with their acquisition projects, even if there are questions about what may happen to interest rates after the crisis.

As for sellers, the continuation of accepted property sales is not called into question at this stage.

The main question for sellers who have not yet signed their pre-contract documents is how the Paris real estate market will react once we overcome the health crisis.

For both parties, we are agreeing to extend deadlines during this time, for both the loan conditional clause and the closing deadline.

56Paris: And how are the financial institutions reacting?

Notary: The main issue for them will be the time the banks take to process the files and in general their position regarding the approval of mortgage files.

Number of transactions

56Paris: What has been the withdrawal rate so far?

Notary: So far so good. I have not yet heard of any buyers wishing to cancel their real estate transactions.

56Paris: Have you been able to record any new transactions since the start of the health crisis?

Notary: Given the containment measures and the stopping of property visits that the agencies normally carry out, of course we are noticing far fewer files coming into our office. Although there were two new transactions in the first week of containment, there have been none since.

56Paris: In your opinion, should we expect any further delays to real estate activity?

Notary: The answer is, we simply do not know. Real estate activities will not resume properly until the containment measures cease, here in Paris and the rest of France.

56Paris: Have procedures become more flexible during the crisis, such as the possibility of accepting signatures not certified by a notary?

Notary: That will be determined on a case by case basis, but the legal certitude of transactions must take precedence despite the current context.

Support from 56Paris at this time

Despite the coronavirus effect on Paris real estate transactions, the whole team is here to offer advice and support.

At 56Paris we are working remotely, and are on hand to assist if you are thinking about buying or selling property now or in the future. Please do get in touch with the team today.