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Investing in property in Italy – what you should know
by De Tullio Law Firm
There are several things that a buyer should be aware of before investing in property in Italy.
Generally speaking the Italian conveyancing process is a rather safe one, if an investor takes necessary precautions when considering a high value investment. As you would in the UK, so you should also seek the support of qualified professionals here in Italy. The house buying process is not a complicated one but can be better handled with the support of experts.
As the legal system in Italy is different from what the client would be accustomed to, purchasing a property can be a daunting and confusing process not to mention the language barrier. Often clients have expectations when buying a property in Italy and the technical or legal specifications do not then match this expectation. A property without planning permission for example or one without a certificate of habitability. Often and quite understandably, many purchasers want to save money on their purchase and opt out of using a solicitor due to the extra legal expenses. It is paramount to employ the services of a solicitor at this stage as they can execute the 'legal due diligence'. This is the investigation and legal verification of specifications of a property. This investigation carries out searches on the property to ensure that there are no outstanding mortgages, environmental restrictions or planning permission issues. A solicitor may require the support of a surveyor or architect in order to carry out these searches. When these searches are complete, the buyer will have a clear understanding of the property and the transaction they are about to enter. With the support of experts property investment becomes less complicated and avoids the necessity to rely solely on the estate agent. Estate agents do not have the qualifications necessary in order to fully represent the complete legal implications of a property investment. It is important to note that estate agents are only entitled to receive their brokerage fees if they finalize a transaction which may in itself create a conflict of interest. Important also to note is the obligation of the estate agent to be registered in compliance with the Italian law and if not, they might not be covered by professional insurance indemnity should complications arise with the sale.
The time needed to complete the purchase of a property can vary depending on the complexity of the investment and any issues arising from the due diligence legal searches. A straightforward property transaction should take approximately two months to complete. Our top property buying tips include:
The main professionals you will be involved with when buying your Italian property are the estate agent, Solicitor and Notary public
- Use the support of independent qualified professionals.
- Make sure that your deposits, payments and property transactions are clearly and easily traceable through bank statements or transfers for example.
- In case of disputes, the Italian version of legal documents will generally prevail. Ensure you understand everything you are signing and have documents translated by an independent professional.
- Avoid purchasing properties affected by serious legal issues, it may be easy to purchase but impossible to sell.
- Buying a property is a substantial financial investment, ensure you verify all the relevant information and documents in order to be fully aware of the investment you are making.
Real estate agent:
According to the Italian law they must be duly qualified and registered in this professional roll at the local section of the Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry. Real estate agents in Italy must also be covered with a professional indemnity insurance.
Non registered real estate agents are not authorized to work in Italy and in case they do they are not entitled to request the payment of brokerage fees.
A bilingual solicitor specialized in Italian real estate law can guide you throughout your investment. They can execute a complete legal due diligence informing the buyer of all the aspects of the investment. They will interact and negotiate with the seller and/or his solicitor and can draft the reservation offer and the preliminary contract ensuring that the English versions perfectly reflect the Italian one.
Finally, they can assist the buyer during the final phase of completion appointing and liaising with the notary public. During such phase, according to the Italian law, any buyer who is not fluent in Italian must be assisted by a bilingual professional who will also take care of the translation of the final deed of sale.
If necessary the solicitor can also represent the buyer by means of power of attorney.
The notary public plays a peculiar role in the Italian legal system. He is both a lawyer and a public official. He is in a position of impartiality between the vendor and the buyer and he is therefore no substitute for the solicitor. The notary is generally appointed by the buyer and has the exclusive responsibility for the draft of the final deed of sale ensuring its compliance with the law.
The final deed of sale should reflect what was previously agreed in the preliminary contract. Furthermore, the notary is responsible for the collection of the taxation connected with the real estate transaction.
Please note, any statement made in this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation only and not advice. This firm accepts no liability or any responsibility for any statement made.
About the Author:
De Tullio Law Firm is an international law firm specialized in Italian inheritance law and Italian cross border real estate transactions. Over the years, it has gained a wide experience in the real estate field, as well as providing assistance with wills & probates, EU law, litigation, taxes and corporate law.
De Tullio Law Firm is listed on the British and American embassies websites, and contributes as legal expert with several publications.
On our website www.detulliolawfirm.com you will find plenty of information about Italian property, as well as articles about Italian inheritance law and foreign married couples. On our sister site www.italianinheritance.it you will find detailed information about the Italian inheritance procedure. Our aim is to assist our clients in the best possible way by giving independent legal advice, and also to inform and educate our on-line visitors on the basics and beyond.
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