It sometimes happens that the purchaser or seller of a property chooses to be represented by a third person at the moment of the sale. It is not very complicated to put in place but there are a number of steps to be taken in advance in order to avoid unpleasant surprises at the time of signing the deed of purchase. Here’s how.
What is a power of attorney?
The person who is about to buy or sell a property does not necessarily have to be present when the transaction is finalized. He or she can be represented by someone else. It can be a member of his family, the real estate broker who they have dealt with up to that point, or even a representative of the office where the deed of purchase is going to be signed. In order for this third party to be able to stand in for the purchaser or the seller, a power of attorney must be prepared which designates them as the official representative of the latter.
Why go through a third party?
Being represented by a third party saves time. “Finding a time that suits everyone – the buyer, the seller, the broker and the notary – requires four diaries to be synchronized. This is not always feasible in light of the demands of work schedules. But as she points out, when both parties have agreed on the amount of the transaction, it is necessary to move forward.
More rarely, the transaction may be between two parties who have strained relationships, such as ex-spouses or family members in conflict. Going through a third party can then be useful to prevent the situation from escalating.
What are the steps to take in order to have recourse to a third party?
It is necessary to establish a power of attorney which must be legalized by a notary or a lawyer. Specifically, it is a question of drafting a document that specifies that person X will represent us on the day of the sale of the property. The latter will sign the power of attorney and provide a copy of their identity document (passport or identity card accompanied by their residence permit). The notary or lawyer will then verify that the signature of the third party corresponds to that on the identity document, and then countersign the power of attorney, which confers on this document a legal status.
Can my representative make decisions for me?
The power of attorney is valid for a single real estate transaction. To avoid any confusion, the relevant lot number is mentioned in this document. The third party cannot use the power delegated to them to sign any other transaction. If we want the same person to represent us in two different acquisitions, we need to prepare two separate powers of attorney. Similarly, we can combine the power of attorney with a time limit, which usually does not exceed one month, thereby limiting the scope of action of the person representing us.
That being said, at the moment of signing the deed of purchase, it is the third party who is responsible for deciding whether to raise a last-minute question or whether to make a decision on a point of detail.
What if the third party makes a decision that does not suit me?
When the sale has been finalized, it is not really possible to return to it. What is signed is signed. To prevent the person appointed to represent us from taking a last-minute decision that is not suitable for us and difficult to undo, we can limit their decision-making power by specifying in the power of attorney that they possess the sole right to sign in our place but not to make a decision or decide on our behalf.
This kind of case is, however, very rare. In general, the buyer receives the draft deed of sale and all related documents several weeks before the date of the signature, which gives them ample time to study it in detail. The day the transaction is finalised, there should be no surprises or decisions to make, because each party has already been able to make any changes that it deems useful or to clarify the final outstanding points in the deed of sale.
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