Property buying in Italy can be a nightmare…
Property buying in Italy is a serious investment and often the fulfilment of a dream. Italy’s unique real estate laws and local customs all lead to the recommendation of having the right team of advisors in place to make your experience successful.
A couple from Bristol found a house in the Abruzzo that they wanted to buy. The local real estate agent, that the couple had engaged, got them to sign a Proposta di Acquisto (purchase offer).
The purchase offer was immediately given to the vendor. The offer basically stipulated the price the couple was willing to pay for the property and was accompanied by the couple’s cheque for €5000, made payable to the vendor. The vendor accepted the couple’s offer, took the cheque, and the deal became irrevocable. The agent also asked the couple for his brokerage fee of 3% of the purchase price, which they paid.
The couple then discovered that the charming outbuilding with self-contained accommodation had been added to the property without a building permit. Getting the building regularised would entail fees for a geometra (surveyor) and tax to the local municipality, and in fact, the outbuilding would need to be demolished if the permit was not granted – there was even the possibility that the couple would end up being prosecuted for an illegal construction. The vendor had no intention of remedying the situation and there was no recourse for the couple. The couple was stuck in a nightmare scenario and yet, the whole thing could easily have been avoided.
As a foreigner buying a property in Italy, before you sign any paperwork which may be legally binding, make sure you have the right team of advisors working for you.
Choose your own geometra to assess the integrity of a building’s structure, whether permits have been obtained and the costs for putting things right if required. You may also want to ask a geometra about the geology of the location. How prevalent are natural hazards such as landslides or earthquakes?
An independent legal advisor will examine titles, review all contracts, help you negotiate the deal and make sure your rights are protected. Italian law requires that all property and land sales be completed before a notary. A notary of your choice, who is a representative of the Italian State, will ensure that the transfer of title is made according to law, that all state and city fees and taxes are paid and that the deed of sale is properly recorded in the land registry.
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of seeking independent advice. Choose your own professionals, who will have your best interests at heart. While the estate agent, vendor or other parties involved in the transaction may recommend professionals with whom they cooperate, you should bear in mind that estate agents and vendors have a vested interest in selling the property to you.
At De Tullio Law Firm, in addition to full conveyancing services, we offer a property background check. This is a pre-purchase service, which identifies and prevents problems such as the ones the couple from Bristol encountered.
Likewise, for those looking to sell their Italian property, we can help you prepare a pre- sales package that includes all the paperwork potential buyers will be looking to gather prior to making a purchase decision.
For more comprehensive information about the Italian property purchasing process, you might like to read our guide. If you would like to discuss your situation or, if we can be of assistance, please get in touch.