I debated about whether I should write about the notaire or the architect first, but I’ll go with the notaire as she was much more part of the process. First, how did I find the Notaire? I asked on a regional group on Facebook. This may not have been the best method in retrospect, but I wanted an English speaker. I got one. I probably should have asked for a breakdown of fees. Or an estimate. So learn from me and do this. While I did benefit from CasaTax which knocked a chunk off the bill, I did pay significantly more than expected based on the fee calculator I found on the Notaire Genève website.
I visited her for the first time in June with the realtor. I didn’t meet the owner of the house until August, actually, and it never occurred to me that that might be a little strange.
At this first meeting, the notaire said that me renting the house back for three months opened up a huge number of issues for both me and the owner. If it was important for the owner to maintain that address as his legal domicile until January 1, 2018, I could agree to keep his name on the mailbox until then, but we could go ahead and transfer the property for October 1st. The realtor said he would take that back to the owner. The realtor did say that I had agreed to pay chf1500/month in rent back, but he never followed up on it, possibly because there was asbestos in the house that I would need to have professionally removed.
In the meantime, I needed to deposit 10% of the purchase price in cash with the notaire in an escrow account. This was a problem. I had saved money, and I had taken $10’000 out of my IRA in the US. But this money was for the notary fees, moving costs, other taxes and fees. My 3eme and 2eme piliers were the source of the house money. BUT, you cannot use your pension accounts for earnest money because there’s no asset behind it. SO, the realtor would ask the owner if he would accept chf20’000 for the earnest money instead. Obviously, he did.
The upshot of this meeting was that we were doing a suspensive sale. We would sign all the documents in August, but the property transfer would not go through until October 1st. I had to have all the money transferred to the notaire by the 28th of September.
When we met again in August, I finally met the owner. I brought a friend along with me who is doing a master’s in translation to make sure that I understood everything, though the notaire was very good at double checking my understanding. I had had the documents beforehand, and I had gone through them with the husband of a friend of mine who has a background in law. I am notorious for not asking the right questions (ironic in a librarian at an inquiry-based school, but there you go!) and therefore not having quite the right information for best, data-informed decision making.
At the August meeting, I learned that the house is there were five nieces and nephews of the owner who have a right of first refusal on the sale of house. This right does not expire until 2032. The owner said he had offered the house to each of them at a very good price, and none were interested. But the notaire said she needed that confirmed in writing.
We signed all the documents and my only task was to make sure the money arrived at the notaire in time.