Italian conveyancing is the legal transfer of property ownership from vendor to buyer
Italian conveyancing starts when the vendor accepts your formal reservation offer. It finishes after you have signed the deed of sale.
How long the Italian property purchasing process takes depends on all sorts of things. How many buyers and vendors are involved? Often Italian properties are owned by several heirs. It may take time for all the co-heirs to agree to sell. Legal issues may also impact the the timing of the conveyancing process. For example, concerns about the location, planning, zoning, whether the property is off-plan or partially built. Basically, the whole process can take weeks or months.
Although it is not a legal requirement in Italy to engage a lawyer when purchasing a property, an experienced property lawyer can guide you through the complexities of Italian conveyancing and related paperwork as well as help resolve any legal issues that come up along the way. While instructing a lawyer may seem like an additional cost, prevention is always a less frustrating and expensive solution than remedying legal issues once you own an Italian property.
How can a lawyer help with Italian conveyancing?
Your lawyer will clarify the Italian property purchasing process for you. A lawyer can help identify what would be the best option in terms of purchasing structure, tax and any other issues relevant to your particular situation. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and provide legal support and advice throughout.
There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it with an estate agent or the vendor. These include structural and legal problems, which a lawyer can play a crucial role in identifying before you purchase.
For example, in a worst case scenario a failure to identify planning permission issues before you buy could generate consequences under criminal law. Once you have purchased an Italian property, it may be hard to rectify illegal work or planning discrepancies. In all likelihood it will be difficult to prove that the vendor was in fact the originator of the work. Legalising such problems can often be very costly and is sometimes impossible. Illegal work, when discovered, can lead to seizure of the property and a criminal court case. Seeking compensation from the vendors generally implies a litigation in court. This might take years and sometimes could turn out to be pointless if the vendors are unable to pay compensation. You may end up with a property that is unsaleable in the future.
Your lawyer will do a set of legal checks and searches for you and, where applicable your mortgage lender. Searches should include land registry titles and local authority planning and zoning compliance.
Environmental factors could be important too. For instance, some regions of Italy are particularly susceptible to ground stability issues, such as landslides and earthquakes. Your lawyer can help you arrange geological and structural surveys. If the survey finds anything out of the ordinary, your lawyer will be able to advise you what action you can take.
Throughout the Italian conveyancing process, your lawyer will check all documents and paperwork before you enter in to any legally-binding contracts. There are three contracts involved in Italian conveyancing. First, a Proposta. Second, the Compromesso and finally, the Atto di Vendita. Each contract involves handing over a deposit or payment. It is therefore crucial that you understand everything and resolve any property-related legal issues before you sign anything. Your lawyer will also make sure that completion dates are agreed and arranged.
By law, a notary public – an official representative of the Italian State – must oversee the sale. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on choosing a notary and take all steps to help you complete the purchase safely. This would include where necessary, sworn translations of the atto di vendita, help with transferring funds, collecting the new title deeds.
Italian law requires that all parties to a property transaction attend completion to sign the atto di vendita . Your lawyer will accompany you in case there are any ladt minute legal issues that need resolving. If you are not fluent in Italian but have an English-speaking lawyer, your lawyer will be able to translate for you. If for some reason you are unable to attend completion in person, your lawyer can complete on your behalf through a power of attorney.
With over 55 years of experience as specialist property lawyers throughout Italy, we strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice before purchasing any property in Italy. If you would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch. We are here to help.
For more comprehensive information on Italian conveyancing process, you might like to read our Property Buying Guide or look at our Property Buying Checklist. You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian property law.