This article was originally provided by De Tullio Law Firm to the British Consulate in 2011. While the article pertains to a Calabrian case, information is relevant to off-plan properties throughout Italy.
If you are looking for additional information about off-plan properties purchases in Italy, you will find a series of articles on the subject if you use our search tool, including a post here about your legal position regarding delivery delays.
Buying off-plan homes in Calabria
A large number of British citizens who have bought holiday property in Calabria have recently contacted the British Consulate in Naples. Many of these transactions have been completed to the satisfaction of the purchasers but, a significant number have run into difficulties with the lawyers involved or with the developers. The Consulate has drawn the matter to the attention of the Italian authorities who are investigating, but we strongly advise purchasers encountering problems of this sort to seek legal advice about obtaining redress.
Advice for anyone purchasing off-plan properties in Italy
Seek legal advice before signing a contract and paying any money upfront
Once you have signed a preliminary contract, it may be too late. Choose your own independent lawyer. We advise you not to use lawyers recommended by the developer or contractor so as to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
Use an independent Notary Public
You do not have to use the notary proposed by the developer or contractor for the deed of sale. In fact, to avoid possible conflicts of interest, we would advise against this. Choose your own notary.
Remember that the Italian version of the contract will prevail in an Italian court
So, either commission the translation yourself from an independent translator or, get any translation you receive checked by an independent qualified person.
The amount you pay as a deposit for an off-plan development should be up to around 10%. Seek legal advice if you are asked for more than that.
Stato avanzamento lavori
As the building work progresses, the developer should accompany any request for further payments with a list of the work done (‘stato avanzamento lavori’). Ask an independent surveyor or architect to check the list before you make any payment. The preliminary contract should include a payment plan.
Surety and guarantee
When you buy an off-plan property, you should receive a bank loan guarantee. This must be an annex to the preliminary contract. If the developer becomes insolvent, this bank loan guarantee will often represent the only protection you have for your investment. If you have already received a bank loan guarantee, have a qualified professional check that it complies with Italian law.
At De Tullio Law Firm, we are Italian and cross border property law specialists. We operate throughout Italy. If you are considering investing in off-plan property in Italy, please get in touch with us for a free consultation. We are here to help.