Italian inheritance law

How to buy a house in Italy | Auction

Have you every wondered how to buy a house in Italy at auction?

As an international law firm dealing mostly with cross border property transactions, clients often reach out to us and ask How to buy a house in Italy. 

Buying Italian property at auction could turn out to be a good opportunity to purchase a property for a reasonable price. You could make savings of up to 60 % compared to buying a property on the market.

While buying at auction may have advantages, it is certainly not without risks. It is therefore essential to engage the services of a technical-legal advisor to carry out due diligence.

In order to mitigate or, at least contain the risks that may arise from the purchase, due diligence should start with the determination of the most likely market value of the property and conclude with thorough verification of all the legal, building, planning, cadastral and administrative aspects.

Due diligence is especially important in forced sales, which lack any guarantees against defects.

How do Italian property auctions work?

In general terms, a property auction is a competitive sale. It begins with the presentation of one or more bids with the transfer of ownership going to the highest bidder.

There are two kinds of property auctions in Italy.

1. Disposal of public assets, which follow specific legal rules.

2. Those of a judicial nature.

The latter applies whenever assets owned by a natural or legal person (known as the execution debtor) are seized. These assets then become subject to a forced sale. The expropriation procedure forces the sale of assets by a third party (the executor judge or a delegate). The objective is to liquidate the execution debtor’s assets and maximise the revenue from the sale in order to repay, in whole or in part, creditors.

How to participate in an Italian real estate auction?

There are two types of property auctions in Italy:


In this case, participants electronically submit their irrevocable and binding bids by 12:00 a.m. on the day prior to the opening of the bids. The Portale delle Vendite Pubbliche — Public Sales Portal is now the predominant system for electronic bids. Bids may also be in sealed envelopes that must meet a number of requirements specifically indicated in the auction notice and on the websites of the courts. In order for both types of sealed bids to be valid, they must be accompanied by a deposit amounting to at least 10% of the offer price.


The sale by open ascending-bid auction is not used very often. It provides a secondary and possible method of auction. It is however usually only used in case of an unsuccessful sealed-bid auction.This type of auction is generally only used when it is considered possible to obtain a rather improbable figure, i.e., a price higher than half of the value of the property.

Participants must publicly make at least one bid that is higher than the last declared price. The auction closes when at least three minutes have elapsed since the last bid.

Important things to consider when you buy house in Italy at auction

If you wish to take part in an auction, we advise you to seek legal assistance. This will safeguard you as well as provide support with all the preparatory and subsequent phases of the sale, in particular with regard to the following.

1. Starting price of the sale (the base price at which the asset is for sale).

2. Bid increments (minimum increase in the raise set by the executor judge).

3. Security deposit (minimum amount to pay in order to take part in the auction).

4. Date of the sale (when the auction takes place).

5. Availability of the property (state of the property: if it is vacant and/or subject to constraints such as sitting tenants; the property may be occupied by virtue of a lease or a loan agreement and so on).

6. Town-planning- cadastral compliance of the property.

7. Place of the sale (auctions used to be in the courts or courts of appeal, but as of 2018 they are now mostly and preferably held online on dedicated online platforms; it is, therefore, necessary to register and access the, “Portale delle vendite pubbliche” of Ministry of Justice).


At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of experience managing all types of Italian property transactions. We have in-depth expertise in Italian and international legal systems and processes.

There are many potential pitfalls and legal ramifications to consider when buying Italian property at auction. We would always recommend that you seek independent professional advice before participating in an Italian property auction.

Buying Italian property at auction can be a good way to buy a property provided you do it safely. For more information on how to buy a house in Italy at auction, please get in touch.

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