Do you mean advocat or notaire? In France you don't usually need an advocat for house purchase. Notaires have a duty (I think) to ensure that the buyers and sellers understand what's going on during the signing processes. They can insist (I think) on an interpreter being present to translate for you - you pay!
If you don't know already the whole business of buying and selling property in France is very different from that in the UK. It's not usual for each party to be individually represented. If it's a complex transaction then perhaps yes.
Once you understand the vocabulary of these legal processes the French is not very complex.
Not necessarily. If you're already in the process of buying, there's probably already a Notaire involved in the sale/purchase - one Notaire acts for both parties here. And how did you manage to negotiate the purchase in the first place?
Since there's very little room for negotiation within a sales document, if you want the place, it's probably not worth going to the extra effort and expense of finding an English-speaking Notaire - unless, as Dej says, it's a complex transaction. AND, worth bearing in mind, is that unless they're a properly registered dual-language professional, what they tell you in English will have no legal standing.
It may well be a baptism by fire, but you really WILL have to learn to cope with the fact that everyone in France speaks French and all legal and official documents are in French, and they expect you to handle that (complete opposite to the UK!!!! I humbly suggest).
So .... time to get the dictionaries and grammar books out ....
However, all of that said, you're in an area of France which has a huge expat Anglophone population and if you ask around you might well find someone who's prepared to interpret for you on an unofficial basis if you really need them.
Cheers for that. At the moment, I've been dealing with the real estate guy over email..
I do speak French, but dealing with legal documents is a whole other ball game! And just a bit scary! But I have French friends here, so maybe I'll do what you advise and ask for an unofficial translator!
If you did not appreciate it, you may need to understand that the notaire is supposed to be independent, and is there to do the legal tricky bits, taxes, land registration etc BUT also to see fair play - although he is paid by one of the parties. I've heard stories about "bent" notaires, but I've been impressed by their impartiality.
I've been involved with buying and selling several properties in France, and a rather complex deal to get my ex wife removed as co-owner of the house in which I was living. In all cases the notaire gave the impression of wanting to make everyone happy with the process. It is not the adversarial model of the UK or US.
PS example of fair play. After divorce (amicable) in the UK we agreed to change the ownership of our then holiday home from joint ownership to only mine. Me ex wife was present at the notaire's office and he advised her that under French law she was entitled to compensation. We explained that the divorce settlement in the UK included the change of ownership so there was no need for compensation in France. However, he went to great lengths to explain her rights and to make sure that she understood them.
Ok that's good to know, thanks. Is it correct that I have 7 days to withdraw once I've signed my official offer? And could you recommend any surveyors that I could use to check out the property during those 7 days..?
You do have 7 days after the Compromis de Vente (UK equivalent: exchange of contract) - longer if you're depending upon a mortgage.
It is very irregular to engage a surveyor of any description here - and most French will fall about laughing if you suggest it. Best option is to chat up a friendly local builder and ask his advice, as well as asking the neighbours - you say it's a flat, so they should be able to tell you what state the building is in and whether there are outstanding issues incumbent on the co-pros.