BUY A HOUSE IN ITALY. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Buying or selling a property in Italy (a home, office, villa, shop, studio, land etc.) can be a challenge, especially, if you are not familiar with the conveyance process, the language, and the Italian culture. Our Italian property lawyers understand the volatility of the local market. They have assisted many foreigners with all international legal issues that may arise from the buying and selling of Italian assets anywhere in Italy.
BUYING PROPERTY IN ITALY AS A FOREIGNER
Buying property in Italy as a foreigner is not always allowed under Italian law.Whilst EU citizens have no problems in purchasing real estate in Italy, non-European citizens may only do so if allowed by an express provision of an international treaty or, alternatively, whether the so-called condition of reciprocity is fulfilled. This occurs when an Italian citizen is also allowed to buy a property in the foreigner’s country of origin and can be verified here. Failing to meet the foregoing two conditions implies the necessity for the foreigner of holding a resident permit.
PURCHASING PROPERTY IN ITALY: THE PROCESS
Whether you are interested in buying a holiday home in Italy or you rather have apartments for sale in Italy, you must undertake the following process.
Negotiation on pre-contractual phase
A good deal always comes after throughout negotiation. And so is it when it comes to buying and/or selling of properties anywhere in Italy. Everyone wishes to obtain the best deal possible, evaluating any competitive alternatives on the market before any official commitment.
Despite proper rights and obligations do not rise at this stage, the parties are required to behave in good faith, according to article 1337 of the Italian Civil Code. They should abstain from acting in bad faith and avoiding behaviours which may mislead the counterparty (Article 1338 of the Italian Civil Code).
The purchase proposal (“proposta irrevocabile di acquisto”)
Despite not being mandatory under Italian law, it may be possible that you, as a buyer, are asked to make an official purchase proposal toward the property you’re interested in. It is a common scenario when purchasing a property in Italy through a real estate agent; conversely, it usually lacks when there is no intermediation, meaning the buyer liaises directly with the seller.
The offer implies several legal consequences and should be assessed thoroughly before being undersigned by the buyer, who remain the only party abide by thereof until a formal acceptance is received from the seller.
What does the execution of a formal offer imply for the parties?
On a side, the buyer commits officially to purchasing the property in a sale, fixing a term by which its interest will last – The offer is irrevocable. The buyer cannot windrow it before the term laps. Article 1329 of the Italian Civil Code states that if the offeror has bound himself to keep the offer open for a certain time, the revocation has no effects.
Why is due diligence necessary?
Due diligence activities are of vital importance when buying real estate in Italy. They are used to confer the right value to the property by means of a complete analysis on building permits, town planning certificates, environmental issues, leases and contracts relating the property.
Does the buyer have to pay a down payment at this stage?
Yes, a down payment is usually set out in any offers of purchase, which is why the assistance of an expert Italian real estate lawyer is advisable when it comes to signing a formal proposal.
If the offer is accepted, the amount paid as a deposit (“Caparra confirmatoria”) will be applied against the total price of sale. By contrast, the deposit is returned to the buyer should the seller refuses the offer.
Who pays the estate agent? And how much?
The buyer is generally required to pay a mediation fee to estate agent who is responsible for the sale. The fees are generally in the region of 2% – 3% of the purchase price, plus VAT and ancillary fees. However, higher fees are possible.
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The Preliminary contract (“contratto preliminare”)
Lacking a formal proposal, this is the first contract that the seller and the buyer must sign. With this contract, which is legally binding, both parties undertake a reciprocal commitment to buy and sell. They set forth the main conditions of the sale, such as the total price of sale, the terms of payment, the actual timing of the sale, etc. And foremost, they agree to the amount of the down payment (usually 10 % of the total price) to be paid in advance by the buyer to the seller.
What does happen to the deposit if the buyer decides not to complete the purchase?
The seller is entitled by law to retain the deposit in case of the buyer’s default. By contrast, should the seller pull out of the sale, they are obligated to pay to twice over the sum originally received.
How can a buyer receive more protection throughout the interim period?
The buyer can ask the contract be transcribed into the registries within 20 days from the signing. The term is 30 days if the contract is executed as deed by a notary.
By the registration the buyer is protected from any problem that may arise during the period of time between the preliminary and the final deed such as mortgages, foreclosures or bankruptcy of the seller.
The Final deed of purchase (“rogito” or “atto notarile”)
Italian law requires that the contract of sale be drawn up by the notary, who is an impartial public official specialised in conveyance. Both parties, or their legal representative, are required to attend the Notary’s office to complete the sale.
What do the parties do on completion?
On completion, the buyer is required to pay the total price of sale to the buyer, who, in turns, have to deliver the property to the buyer.
Who chooses the Notary?
The Notary is usually selected by the Buyer but acts as an independent and impartial third party. You may find an Italian notary here.
What does the Notary do?
The notary ensures the conveyance of the property complies with all legal requirements and after the signing of the final contract, is required by law to perform a series of task such as the lodging of the deed in the Land Registers, making it known and fully effective to all (technically known as third parties). The filing of the deed with the competent authority in the Land Register is required by law to let everyone know who is the owner of the property and whether it is subject to mortgages or other encumbrances.
How much does a notary cost?
The Notary’s fees generally do not exceed 1 % of the total price.
What if I am unable to attend the Notary’s Office?
Regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller, you may appoint a proxy to represent you on completion in front of the Italian Notary. The procura (Power of attorney) is the deed by which one person appoints another person to act on his or her behalf, by conferring powers limited to specific matters. If drawn up abroad, it must be notarised, translated into Italian, and be legalized with an apostille, if applicable.
What if I do not understand the Italian language?
The deed may be written in a foreign language, so long as that language is known by the notary. The text in a foreign language will be accompanied by an Italian translation. If the notary does not understand the foreign language used by the parties, it will still be possible to draw up the deed in the presence of an interpreter chosen by the parties. In this last case, the deed will be written in Italian, but will be accompanied by the translation prepared by the interpreter in the foreign language.
If you wish to buy a house in Italy, or you are a seller who is interested in selling real estate in Italy, the conveyance process can be overwhelming. Our experienced Italian real estate lawyers would be delighted to assist you. Do not hesitate to contact us. Our quote is free of charge.