Selling properties in Italy can often be a difficult and lengthy process, so it is important to make things easier for yourself by preparing and understanding what’s involved. The first stage is to put the property on the market, either as a private sale or though an estate agency.
If you are considering appointing an Italian real estate agent, it is important to ensure that the agent is qualified and registered with the local Chamber of Commerce in full compliance with Italian law.
Legislation governing real estate agents aims not only to guarantee the professional qualification of real estate agents but also to ensure the agent has compulsory indemnity insurance, which is in the best interests of the client.
Should the agent not be registered, the agent could be prosecuted for carrying out a reserved activity and may not be legally entitled to request commission.
The estate agent is usually paid commission (Provvigione) both by the buyer and the vendor. Estate agent commission is negotiable but is generally the equivalent to 3% of the full sale price. Amongst other aspects, it is important to assess the agent’s brokerage fees, minimum sale price, duration of the mandate and its exclusivity.
Frequently, real estate agents require a foreign seller to sign standard terms of engagement, which should be carefully evaluated before signature. All the more so if the document is drafted in Italian. Even if the terms of engagement are translated in to your own language, the Italian version will prevail.
Once a potential buyer is considering the purchase of your property, the potential buyer will generally sign a legally binding document called, Proposta Irrevocabile d’Acquisto, a Reservation Offer. Often a small deposit is made to the vendor at this point.
The reservation offer should be signed by both the potential buyer and the property vendor. In effect the reservation offer removes the property from the market for an agreed period of time, usually 15 days, to allow the interested buyer exclusive rights to conduct due diligence on the property.
Due diligence includes, but is not limited to: conducting surveys, planning and building application / permission searches, local authority and land registry searches, and legal searches.
The aim of due diligence, amongst other things, is to establish:
- That the property exists. It is as described, and the seller has the right to sell the property in question.
- That there are no mortgages / charges or any third party rights or other undisclosed/encumbrances affecting the property.
- That the property complies with all the local planning and building regulations, and complies with any relevant building plan approved by the local authority.
- That the property is fit for human habitation, unless the property is being sold for reconstruction, and that the owner holds the relevant certification of habitability Certificato di Abitabilità.
- That the seller has complied with all the relevant Italian tax legislation by lodging tax returns, and paying tax, including tax which may have been due in the previous tax years. In default of this requirement, the property may be deemed legally unsaleable.
- That where the vendor is the owner of a company, the vendor should not have been declared bankrupt and no application to this effect should be pending against him; and
- That where the property is in a block of flats, all service charges due have been paid.
For more information about what happens next in the process of selling a property in Italy, we have prepared a free guide, which you can consult here: http://bit.ly/1U4a2NR . We also offer a pre-sales service, which ensures that all the legal aspects and paperwork under control before you put your Italian property on the market.
Feel free to contact us for any help or advice you might need.