Selling your Italian property can be a difficult and lengthy process
To aid the process in the long run, it is therefore important to make things easier at the outset. Prior to selling your Italian property there are certain preparations that are worthwhile making.
Preparing a sales package
The first step is to gather all the legal paperwork relating to the property.
Amongst other things, this includes the title deeds which prove you are the legal owner. Also, land registry entries to show that the whole property has planning permission and complies with building regulations. In addition, the property’s certificate of habitability and energy performance certificate.
Having this paperwork before you start marketing the property will facilitate the whole sales process for you as well as potential buyers.
Marketing your Italian property
The next step is putting the property on the market. You can either do this as a private sale or through a real estate agent (agente immobiliare).
If you are 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 to guarantee professional qualification. An unregistered agent could be prosecuted for carrying out a reserved activity and may not be legally entitled to request commission. Legislation also ensures that the agent has adequate indemnity insurance to cover clients in the event something goes wrong.
It’s important to think about whether the real estate agent can market the property locally, nationally and internationally. Perhaps ask a few agents to appraise the property. And, be sure to discuss brokerage fees before you choose.
Checking Italian real estate agent terms and conditions
Usually, both the buyer and the vendor pay the estate agent commission. Estate agent commission is negotiable but is generally equivalent to 3% of the full sale price. Amongst other aspects, it is important to assess the agent. In particular, their brokerage fees, minimum sale price, duration of the mandate and their exclusivity.
Frequently, real estate agents require a foreign seller to sign standard terms of engagement. The seller must carefully evaluate this before signing. All the more so if the document is in Italian. Even with the translation of the terms of engagement into your language, the Italian version will prevail.
Reservation offers in Italy
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 the buyer makes a small deposit to the vendor at this point.
Both the buyer and the property vendor should sign the reservation offer. In effect, the reservation offer removes the property from the market for a period of time, usually 15 days. This allows the interested buyer exclusive rights to conduct due diligence on the property.
Property checks and searches in Italy
Due diligence includes: conducting surveys, planning and building application/permission searches, local authority and land registry searches, and legal searches.
This is where preparing your sales package before marketing your property comes into its own.
The aim of due diligence, amongst other things, is to establish that the property exists in relevant records. In other words that 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.
The property complies with all local planning and building regulations and complies with any relevant local authority urban plan.
That the property is fit for human occupancy, unless the property is selling for reconstruction, and that the owner holds the relevant certification of habitability Certificato di Abitabilità.
The seller has complied with all the relevant Italian tax legislation by lodging tax returns, and paying tax. This includes tax which may have been due in the previous tax years. In default of this requirement, the property may be legally unsaleable.
That where the vendor is the owner of a company, the vendor is not insolvent. In addition, no application to this effect should be pending against the owner;
That where the property is in a block of flats, the vendor is up to date with all service charges due.
Make sure the preliminary contract fits your buyer’s specific needs when selling your Italian property
Having a tailored preliminary contract will facilitate your sale. Often estate agents use a standard form for this, but this may not meet your buyer’s specific circumstances. What happens, for example, if your buyer is purchasing subject to getting a mortgage? Make sure you cover all the bases to ensure that selling your Italian property doesn’t become more protracted than it needs to be.
Conditions precedent in a preliminary contract protect all parties when buying and selling property in Italy. However, to provide protection, conditional clauses must actually be written into the preliminary contract in order for them to be legally binding.
Selling your Italian property: completing the sale
This usually takes place in the offices of a notary (Notaio). In Italy, sellers and purchasers often use the same notary to oversee the transaction. However, you are perfectly within your rights to have your own notary.
The notary will draw up the deed of sale based on information contained in your preliminary contract.
Liability relating to an Italian deed of sale, involves not only the selling and buying parties but also the notary. Failure to disclose all relevant facts about your Italian property represents a complex legal matter which can have far-reaching consequences.
For more detailed information about selling your Italian property, we have prepared a free Guide to Selling Property in Italy.
If you are thinking of selling a property in Italy, why not talk to us? We offer a pre-sales service. This ensures that all the legal sales-related paperwork is correct before you put your property on the market.
De Tullio Law Firm can advise and guide you throughout your Italian property selling journey. We have over 55 years of experience working with clients on their Italian and cross border property, family and inheritance matters. Get in touch.
You may also be interested in Selling Property in Italy. A Short Guide