Ask the lawyer: Who’s involved in a chateau purchase?

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Starting with Jack Ma, several Chinese investors have bought new property in Bordeaux since the beginning of the Chinese ‘Monkey year’. Besides the buyer and the seller, who else plays an important part in a winery purchase deal?

Besides the buyer and the seller, a chateau purchase usually involves several important participants, explained Paris-based real-estate attorney SUN Weimin.

Image: Vineyard investment, credit Decanter
Image: Vineyard investment, credit Decanter

The attorney

The buyer and the seller will both hire their own attorney to ensure the deal is completed safely, smoothly and legally.

The attorney works as the ‘steward’ of the operation. They provide suggestions to their clients throughout every stage of the purchase, and coordinate with the other professionals involved. It is their responsibility to maximise the benefits of the deal for their clients, and assist them to complete the deal.

The buyer’s attorney would usually head a thorough evaluation on the chateau on sale. The evaluation covers the legal and financial status, as well as the staffing situation of the property. It also involves a tax audit and evaluations on the vineyard lands, vineyard plantings, wine production and the buildings.

The attorney of the seller, on the other hand, would strive to avoid any risk in the deal for their clients.

The real-estate broker

In usual cases, the seller would sell their properties through a real-estate broker. It is crucial the broker is well-known and reputable locally, as they usually play an important role in deciding the price of the chateau, which is also the key to the success of the deal.

The accountant

The accountant issues reports on the financial status of the estate thus help to decide the price of the property. The accountants usually work very closely with the attorney, especially when it concerns the guarantee of liabilities.

The notary

Real-estate transactions need to be notarized to take effect. If the chateau is sold for its shares, the buyer and the seller can request the notary to verify the current ownership of the shares.

Technical experts

- Geological experts: They are responsible to examine the quality of the vineyards, technical equipment and the value of the land.

- Broker and/or winemaker: They are commissioned to evaluate the value and quality of the wines produced at the chateau. Also they are responsible to count the inventories in the cellar and give an estimate.

- Laboratory staff: They are sent to examine the chemical environment of the cellars and other winemaking specifications.

- Health and safety personnel: They will conduct examinations on any potential health and safety hazards at the property, such as harmful chemicals and white ants.

- The buyer requires special examinations on viticulture and winemaking.

Under usual circumstances, it is in the buyer’s interest to commission technical examinations on the property.

*The article was edited from an original version published on 17 February, 2014 on the website of SUN Business Law Firm (http://www.sun-avocat.com).

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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