Italian Property Purchase Questions And Answers

Key questions and answers about Italian real estate – Property purchase process.

Any buyer should always consider whether there may be any “conflict of interest”.
The real estate agent told you that he/she can include legal services in his/her rate of commission (the rate of commission for real estate agents is generally 3% of the value of the property)? Please remember that your real estate agent will be paid only if the sale is finalised.

The various parties involved in your transaction might not have an interest in telling you the whole truth about your property because they have a financial or vested interest in making the sale. This is why you should always seek independent legal advice from a competent, experienced lawyer who speaks your language and has only your interests at heart.

Before buying a home in Italy, “it is imperative to come and visit the property first, and it is equally important to speak to an independent Italian legal advisor.“

Is buying a home in Italy safe?

Italy is a country of great natural beauty with unparalleled cultural wealth. Moreover, it is a founding member of the European Union and a member of the Eurozone.

Often the most exciting aspect of beginning a new life abroad is buying the perfect home – what you choose and its location can be crucial to ensuring that your life abroad is a long-term success.

The procedures and terminology for buying a home in Italy are quite different from what you are likely to be used to, so it is essential to have the assistance of an Italian real estate market expert through the process.

There is a huge variety of property available on the Italian real estate market. Property for every budget and taste. Before taking the final decision, it is imperative to come and visit the property first, and if you decide to go ahead and buy a property, it is equally important to speak to an independent Italian legal advisor.

The conveyancing process as regulated by the Italian Civil Code, anyway, is extremely safe assuming that the buyer takes care and pays attention as generally required for an investment of this importance.

How long to complete the property purchase process in Italy?

Assuming no particular problem arises after the legal due diligence carried out by your lawyer, the whole property purchase process in Italy can be completed quite quickly, often within a month.

Many investors find it easier buying through an estate agent, but…

… if this is the case, any investor should verify if the agent is registered, as required by law, with the local Chamber of Commerce (Ruolo degli Agenti di Affari in Mediazione). Purchasing directly from the vendor is equally acceptable and will save the buyer the payment of the commission fee of the real estate agent (a standard commission is generally 3% of the value of the property). The latter solution is risk-free with the assistance of an Italian, bilingual, legal advisor.

… I do not understand the Italian language, what should I do?

Any legally binding agreement relating to an Italian real estate transaction must be written in Italian, whatever the nationality of the parties involved. In case of litigation, the Italian version will prevail. Moreover, you should be aware that translations of legal documents may not be accurate or completely correspond to the original.

You should never sign any legally binding agreement without the advice of a qualified, bilingual Italian lawyer who can explain, in your language, the full scope of your commitment.

Additional information – Legal translations in Italian real estate transactions

If I sign a preliminary real estate contract…

… what happens if I cannot complete the purchase?

As you have signed a legally binding agreement (Preliminary Real Estate Contract, or “Compromesso“), most likely you will lose your deposit. This deposit will not be returned if you (the buyer) defaults and backs out of the contract without a valid legal reason. The vendor may also be in a position to take you to court to seek additional financial compensation.

Many people ignore the main difference between an Italian lawyer and an Italian Notary Public…

In the Italian legal system, the Italian Notary Public is a public official of the Italian State who is in a position of neutrality between the buyer and the vendor; this is the reason why he is no substitute for a lawyer who, conversely will exclusively look after the interests of his client.

Should you need further information regarding this topic, check our blog post: Italian Public Notaries in Property Transactions.

I was told that I need an interpreter during the Deed of Sale…

…can I use one appointed by the vendor and/or the real estate agent?

If the buyer is not fluent in Italian when signing the Deed of Sale of a Real Estate, Italian law requires the presence of an interpreter. Our advice is not only to verify that the interpreter is duly qualified from a linguistic and legal point of view, but also that the translator is not acting in conflict of interest. This would be the case if the interpreter is appointed by the vendor and/or the real estate agent.

Your bilingual independent legal advisor has the right qualifications to assist you throughout the real estate transaction. Your legal advisor, appointed by you and acting only in your interests, will take care of interpreting and translations, as well as making sure that you have a full understanding of the documents you are requested to sign and the legal consequences implied.

I intend to renovate my property and I am already in contact with a building company for construction works…

… will I need a contract?

In case of renovation works, the best guarantee for a customer is to have a contract professionally drafted by a lawyer where all the obligations of the building company and prices are listed in detail. This is generally sufficient to prevent significant problems arising in the future.

Major renovation works can be extremely expensive and it’s very hard to forecast unforeseen requirements as work progresses. The early involvement of a lawyer in drafting a contract between you and your builder can help keep costs under control.

If you do not find the answer to your question here, we would be happy to hear from you. Please contact us with your question.


Italian Inheritance Questions And Answers

Here is a list of frequently asked questions and answers about Italian inheritance and succession procedures.

Inheritance rights of spouses If you are married, you will be entitled to inheritance as a ‘forced heir’.

According to Italian law, you cannot be excluded from inheriting your reserved quota.

Drafting a will in Italy: the reasons

It is definitely worth drafting an Italian Will if you own assets in Italy.

Succession will fall under the jurisdiction of Italian law, which means that any Will relating to Italian assets should be published with an Italian Public Notary. An Italian Public Notary cannot receive a Will drafted in a foreign language.

Therefore, any non-Italian Will would require a sworn translation into Italian. This clearly generates problems and costs as well as assuming that the Will does not conflict with Italian law.

For these reasons, it is easier and probably more cost-efficient to draft a Will in Italian.

How does Italian inheritance tax apply?

Estate tax applies to the entire net value of the deceased’s estate, including movable and immovable assets. Rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary with the deceased, as follows: Spouse and children: 4% of the estate value, with an exemption of EUR 1 million for each beneficiary. Siblings and close relatives (up to fourth degree of kinship): 6%. Each sibling is entitled to an allowance of EUR 100,000. Any other beneficiary: 8%, without allowance.

Inheritance tax is not the only tax due…

As a matter of fact, the heirs are also called to pay transcription and cadastral tax, respectively corresponding to 2% and 1% (calculated on the cadastral value) of any real estate inherited.

It is highly advisable to draft an Italian Will assisted by your Italian lawyer in order to limit the consequences of “legal succession”.

“Legal succession” applies where the deceased has not left a Will, and in such a case the Italian law determines which relatives of the deceased have the right to succeed (primarily the spouse, the legitimate and natural children, and the descendants).

In the case of a lack of heirs, according to Italian law, the hereditary assets present in Italy would be assigned to the Italian State.

What will happen to such property when he/she dies?

In the case where the legal owner dies without leaving an Italian Will, the property will be inherited according to the rules of the Italian legal succession. Such rules do not take in consideration unmarried partners.

According to Italian law an inheritance quota is reserved for close family members such as children and spouses.

In principle, such individuals cannot be excluded from the inheritance unless very strict conditions are met. If you intend to exclude a forced heir from your Will, it is strongly advisable to engage an Italian lawyer to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.


The assets listed in the Will will be inherited by the heirs mentioned in the Will. The remaining Italian assets will go to the legitimate heirs, meaning heirs determined by Italian inheritance law.

Independently from your family situation, you can always leave a part of your inheritance (the disposable one) to other parties or institutions (e.g. a charity).

No. Joint Wills for a married couple are not recognised under Italian law.

Wills are strictly personal deeds and each partner must draft their individual Will.

Succession rights

Are there any relatives who cannot be excluded in the Succession?

The relatives in direct line to the deceased are entitled to a reserved quota. These relatives entitled to the Succession are: Children or nephews/nieces, parents (in absence of children), spouse / registered partner.

What are the rights of unmarried couples? Are the unmarried partners entitled to inheritance rights?

According to Italian inheritance law, unmarried partners are not entitled to any inheritance rights. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that partners of unmarried couples protect their position by drafting Italian Wills.

Yes it is possible to nominate several beneficiaries, each one of them pro-quota (heir A 1/3, heir B 1/3, heir C 1/3) or different beneficiaries for every single asset (my beach house to heir A, my city house to heir B etc.)

Can I change my Will over time?

It is always permitted to change, amend or revoke your will. In fact, you should regularly review your will. Situations change throughout our lives. You may get married, get divorced, have children, purchase assets. Your wishes regarding beneficiaries may change. Your will should reflect these changes.

You should contact a bilingual Italian Lawyer or a bilingual Notary public.

Contact De Tullio Law Firm for more information.

You should store it in the safe-keeping of a person you trust.

This might be a trusted relative, friend or a professional such as a solicitor or Public Notary.

Inheritance tax exemption: What inheritance assets are exempt from taxation?

Medical expenses and funeral costs borne for the deceased.

Italian state bonds, (BOT, CCT, and other state bonds), life insurance policies, and cars registered in the name of the deceased are not subject to taxation.

Who is obligated to pay the inheritance tax in Italy?

The parties who have the obligations to pay the inheritance tax are the heirs who have the joint responsibility to pay the inheritance tax. Even if one of the heirs pays all relevant taxes on behalf of all of the heirs, the payee has the legal right to be reimbursed by the other heirs, the Italian tax authority can request this.

… my Italian family suggests that they will take care of everything and they are asking me to sign a Power of Attorney.

It is never advisable to delegate such a sensitive task to parties who potentially might be in a position of conflict of interest. Power of Attorney is very sensitive and should be conferred to a professional who has experience in the field and who is accountable for his actions.

Usucapio risk:

I have inherited a property in Italy where some family members live without a contract. Is this exposing me to any potential risk?

Yes, this is very much the case. According to Italian law, if someone has possession of a property for many years, without paying any rent, with the implicit consent of the legal owner he could be entitled to claim ownership in court. This legal procedure is called ‘usucapione’ the closest legal concept in common law would be limitations of action.

I am a foreign (non Italian) citizen and I own a property in Italy… … what inheritance law will apply to my succession?

The inheritance law might depend on your citizenship and residency but the succession procedure related to your Italian property will be regulated by the Italian law.

To be clear, if you own an immovable asset in Italy, you will need to manage the succession in Italy.

If you do not find the answer to your question here, we would be happy to hear from you. Please contact us with your question.