Buying real estate in Italy involves a lot of bureaucracy and different parties, but it can be done. Be aware of the contracts you have to sign and details that go along with them. Also be cautious of neighbors who have the right over property before foreigners.
Attorneys and Real Estate Agents
To buy real estate in Italy, you’ll definitely need a notary public (notario), and possibly an Italian lawyer and/or a lawyer from your home country. Keep in mind that the legal executive acts as both the vendor and buyer. The notary public is a public official, but will charge you fees for their service. In general, they will witness the deed of sale legally, and then register this at the official land registry. The notary public will also search locally, check on planning permissions, title deeds, rights of access and ownership. They will also register the sale for tax purposes.
The benefit of having a lawyer in addition to a notary public is that the notary public is meant to be impartial and just lay out the information. A lawyer, whether it is an Italian one or one from home, will act more on your behalf. A domestic lawyer will let you know about any consequences from your home country that might arise, whether legally or financially.
You will also need a geometra. This is a combination of an architect and surveyor, and will let you know information about the building you wish to reside in. They are also needed to put in information to the Preliminary Contract.
Rules, Regulations and Restrictions
Making a property offer in Italy is just like most places, meaning not fixed and subject to change. People will make offers above the listed price to get what they want.
Italians practice the principle of prelazione, which is the third parties’ right to buy. Neighbors around the prospective property have the right to refuse the property at its asking price. The reason for this is because farmers in rural areas might want to expand their territory, and the law is limited to direct growers. In cities, however, sitting tenants and business people on the adjoining property also have the right to buy, so your contract could potentially be thrown out at the last minute.
First, you should choose a place; then you should make an offer. If your offer is accepted, you should then have the geometra survey the property.
Next, the estate agency should come up with a Preliminary Contract, which is a “Compremesso” in Italian. It will define selling conditions, such as the exact details about the property, payments, rights of way, when you will possess the property, and the guarantee by the seller by the lack of mortgages. You’ll usually have to deposit 20% of the established amount after signing this contract. You must sign this contract in front of the notary public. When you and your real estate agent set up the Preliminary Contract, keep in mind that things are still subject to change. Italian real estate agents have professional qualifications, so they usually know what they are doing. However, any little changes of detail or omissions could be very important in the end, so pay attention to what you sign.
You will then need to obtain the “Codice Fiscale,” which is an Italian tax code available from the tax office. This is necessary to open an Italian bank account and buy the property.
Then, open an Italian bank account. The Italian bank will prepare for you the Final Contract Cheques that you will need to pay your seller.
Finally, you sign the Final Contract, in front of a notary public. The notary public also has to control and guarantee the property a clear title, plus any other details. If you don’t speak fluent Italian, you should be assisted by an Italian lawyer or other representative to help you with this final act. At the end, you must pay a sum of fees, including the balance of the transaction, notary fees, taxes and possibly more.
Before you go into your property, you should make sure that the utilities have been changed in your name, and that you are properly insured.