So you’ve found your ideal property for sale in Italy through Italian House Hunters. You’ve been out to Italy to view it and have decided that you and the house are truly meant for each other. Congratulations!
What happens next? The good news is that buying property for sale in Italy is different from other countries – but it’s not difficult. You just need to know what you’re doing. Fortunately, Italian House Hunters does, and will be your guide throughout all processes involved.
Here’s a short guide to the buying procedure in Italy and an explanation of some of the legal terms. It will also introduce you to the important figure of the Notaio.
Acquire a Codice Fiscale
Before you can do anything, you must acquire a Codice Fiscale. This is a personal number issued by the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy. It’s necessary for any investment, contract or legal proceeding in Italy. You’ll need one before you can open a bank account in Italy. You can get one from an embassy or consulate. Take along your passport. It’s a simple matter of filling in a form.
Open a bank account in Italy
You’ll also need to open a bank account (conto bancario) in Italy, to transfer money for the purchase of the property and to pay for the various services you need during the process. The Notary in particular will probably insist on a banker’s draft from an Italian bank. The process is fairly straightforward. Don’t forget to take your newly acquired Codice Fiscale with you when visiting the bank of your choice.
Hire a lawyer/solicitor
It’s also a good idea to hire a lawyer/solicitor (Avvocato) at this point, to look after your interests through the entire procedure for buying property for sale in Italy. He or she will then conduct a number of checks. These could include checking that whoever is selling the property actually has the right to do so, and if there are any debts or outstanding loans associated with the property. They will check to see if anyone else has rights over the property or any adjoining land that’s being sold with the property. This would include checking if a neighbour or farmer has rights of way or access. The Avvocato will also be able to advise you on any necessary planning permission.
Get the property surveyed
This is entirely optional but a wise investment to make sure there’s nothing structurally wrong with the property that you are unaware of. For this you will need a Surveyor (Geometra). If you are intending to employ contractors or builders to renovate the property, now is also the time to get quotes for labour and materials, along with a timeframe of the works. Planning permission might also be necessary.
Make your offer
The Proposal of Purchase (Proposta irrevocabile d’acquisto) is the first official document you will come across. It’s an irrevocable proposal to buy, subject to contract. It’s not legally binding and does not mean you have secured the property. It lets the seller know that you intend to buy and will be signing a contract at a later date.
The Proposta irrevocabile d’acquisto takes the form of a pre-printed form that has to be signed by the seller. It has a time limit – normally 15 to 30 days – and you will need to pay a nominal deposit, say 1000 EUR. If the seller is approached by someone who offers a higher asking price, he can terminate this agreement and return your deposit. If you decide to pull out, the seller will probably keep the deposit as compensation. In other words, only sign this proposal if you have conducted the necessary checks on the property and have the finance organized.
Offer accepted? Then sign the Compromesso and pay your full deposit
Once the seller accepts your offer for a property for sale in Italy, you move to a Preliminary Contract (Contratto preliminare or Compromesso). This is an agreement between seller and buyer that is registered and transcribed. It obligates each party to stipulate a definitive purchase agreement (see below).
The Compromesso usually contains many more details and agreements than in the accepted offer and must contain all the aspects that will be inserted in the final deed, such as the details of each party, the price of the property, the method of payment, the description of the house (cadastral income, area, number of rooms, condition), the date of the deed, conformity to building standards, etc.
To give this signed contract full legal force, you must register it within twenty days, which will cost around €170 in fees and around €15 in stamp duty.
Usually at this stage the buyer increases the deposit paid to a sum that equals 10-15% of the property value. In case the sale doesn’t go through because of the buyer, the seller can keep the deposit as compensation. If it’s the buyer’s fault, the seller has the right to have the deposit returned.
Enter the Notaio
Now you move on to officially receiving the purchase title deed of the property. This is called the Rogito or Atto di compravendita. For this you will need the services of a notary (Notaio), who is a neutral and impartial party. The Notaio will validate the contracts transferring ownership of a property, draft the new deed that cites you as the owner, and witness your handing over of the final payment and the vendor giving you the keys to the property. Fees for the services of a Notaio are usually between 1.5% and 2.5% of the property purchase price.
Enjoy the signing!
In Italy, the signing of the contract between vendor and buyer at the office of the Notaio usually takes the with a small celebration. So be prepared for a glass or two of Prosecco!
The deed is signed, the house is now definitively yours and you will be its new owner.
Buy a property in Italy with Italian House Hunters
Italian House Hunters can help you every step of the way. From the initial search through all the paperwork, rules and regulations to the signing of the contract – and even beyond to rental advice. We have an extensive local network and can locate properties that are under the radar. Moreover, we’ll help you get the best deal possible!
Italian House Hunters are on a mission to help Italophiles from around the globe find and buy their dream house. Our experience is priceless and our expertise comes at no risk to you. If your search proves unsuccessful or if your purchase falls through, we won’t charge you.
Contact Italian House Hunters today.