What do I have to look out for when choosing a notary?

In Germany, a property-purchase agreement is only legally binding once it has been certified by a notary. Therefore, anyone wanting to buy a property will definitely also require the services of a notary. As it is generally the buyer who must cover the certification costs, it is most commonly also the buyer who suggests which notary to use. But what are the criteria you should be guided by when choosing the right notary?

Once the buyer and seller have agreed the purchase price and other important points in the purchase agreement, it is time to find a notary who can draw up and certify this agreement. One can use the services of any notary one chooses. Both contract parties have the right to propose a notary, but must, of course, ultimately agree on one.

There is no difference in terms of fees

If you have never had to work with a notary before, you will probably be wondering how to go about choosing one. You can’t base your choice on the size of their fee, as the rates levied are fixed by law. They sit at 1.5 to 2 per cent of the purchase price and are non-negotiable. You can therefore simply search for a notary in your vicinity, whether online or via the appropriate indexes provided by the German Chamber of Notaries (Bundesnotarkammer) or the State Chamber of Notaries (Landesnotarkammer). Or you can ask your friends and acquaintances for recommendations.

Criteria for selecting the right notary

Once you have found a notary using the aforementioned methods, however, you should first check whether you can answer ‘yes’ to the following questions before you commission them to certify your purchase agreement:

  • Do you feel the notary is giving you sound advice and is their conduct trustworthy?
  • Are they making themselves available to you and taking the time to answer your questions?
  • Are they speaking to you in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Does the notary have proven expertise in their field?
  • Do other property purchasers and sellers recommend this notary?

A professional estate agent will find the right notary for you

Another, eminently sensible way to find a trustworthy notary is through your estate agent. If you have any doubts as to your choice of notary, your estate agent will have more than just a one-off experience of working with them and been able to assess over a longer period of time whether or not the notary is reliable and truly fulfils their role as a neutral adviser. You can also have your estate agent commission the notary directly, so that you don’t have to take care of anything. If, on the other hand, the notary has been chosen by the seller or their estate agent, a certain amount of scepticism on the part of the buyer is no bad thing. Pay close attention to whether your interests are represented in the purchase agreement and check with the notary if you don’t understand any of their phrasing. If you have any doubts as to the notary’s impartiality, you would be well-advised to have another legal expert examine the agreement before you sign it.

Do you have any questions regarding the notary appointment? Then get in touch with us! We will be happy to help you find a notary and comprehensively advise you.  

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In this text, the generic masculine is used for better readability. Feminine and other gender identities are explicitly included to the extent necessary for the statement.

Legal note: This article does not constitute tax or legal advice in individual cases. Please have the facts of your specific individual case clarified by a lawyer and/or tax advisor.