Understanding buying Italian property.

Buying Real Estate in Italy

As a rule there are no restrictions placed upon a non-resident wishing to purchase a property in Italy, either from Europe or elsewhere.

When searching for a house in Italy it is strongly recommended that you use an estate agent fully licensed by the Camera di Commercio (Chamber of Commerce). Abode is one such agency.

Step 1 - The offer

Your Italian 'Agenzia immobiliare' (Estate Agent) will make the initial offer on your behalf. Once you identify the Italian property you want to buy you can immediately sign a Proposta irrevocabile d'acquisto - an irrevocable purchase agreement - which is signed by the buyer and seller once you have agreed on the price. The agreement identifies both parties and the property in question, and gives an expiry date for signing the preliminary contract of sale ("Compromesso"). When you sign, you can pay a small optional deposit to seal the property and have it withdrawn from the market. This is usually held by the Agency, and returned to you or given to the seller as part payment when you sign the Compromesso.

If you change your mind about purchasing the property you will forfeit this deposit, as the owner will have effectively taken the property off the market for a certain period of time. If the sale does not go ahead by the specified date through no fault of your own your deposit will be returned to you. During this time you should arrange for a qualified surveyor (Geometra) to organise a complete survey on the property and carry out the necessary title searches. The Geometra will ascertain that all of the structures on the property have proper planning permissions in addition to checking other important documentation on the property.

Step 2 - Preliminary Contract of Sale ("Compromesso")

The preliminary contract of sale (Compromesso) commits both parties to the sale. This contract establishes the terms and conditions of the final contract (Rogito) and details the price, date for completion, the nature of the property and guarantees from the seller. It may also include any other relevant legal details or conditions stipulated as part of the negotiation.

You will be expected to pay a deposit at this stage (Caparra confirmatoria) of between 10%-30% of the purchase price. It is important to note that if you withdraw from the sale after signing the Compromesso, you will lose your deposit. However, if the seller withdraws, he must pay you back double your deposit.

Step 3 - Final Act (Rogito Notarile)

This is the final stage of the process and transfers ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer (usually 1-3 months after the Compromesso, but sometimes longer depending on circumstances). The document is drawn up by the Notary (Notaio), who represents both parties. The buyer, seller and Italian registered estate agent are all required to be present for the signing of the contract at the Notary's office. You can sign the Rogito in person or you may appoint a special Power of Attorney to your solicitor or estate agent to represent you if you cannot be there in person. You will be expected to pay the balance to the vendor, the Notary and the estate agent and pay all taxes/stamp duties due at this stage (see below).

For further information click here to go to our Buying Real Estate in Italy page at www.abodeitaly.com