ITALY PROPERTY SALE

Italian Property for sale by the property owners themselves

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How to buy a house in ItalyHow to buy real estate in Italy

Once you have decided on an Italian property and agreed a price you will need to select a notary or "Notaio", they represent neither property buyer nor seller, but the Italian Government. Although the notaio is strictly impartial, the buyer can insist on choosing the notary, as he usually pays his fee. Notaries' fees vary, so you should check them in advance. As a notary doesn't necessarily protect or act in your interests, you may wish to employ a lawyer to ensure that everything is carried out to your satisfaction.

There are two main stages when a notary usually becomes involved in the purchase of Italy real estate. The first is when you sign the preliminary contract "compromesso", when the presence of a notary isn't mandatory, and the second is completion, i.e. the signing of the rogito or deed of sale. This must be done in the presence of a notary, who is responsible for ensuring that the deed of sale is drawn up correctly and that the purchase price is paid to the vendor. He also witnesses the signing of the deed, arranges for deed registration (in the name of the new owner) at the land registry, the "catasto" and collects any fees and taxes due. The notary doesn't verify or guarantee the accuracy of statements made in a contract or protect you against fraud.

Once you have decided upon your real estate in Italy and the notaio has been selected, you sign a Compromesso or Contratto Preliminare (preliminary contract) and pay the statutory deposit usually between 10% and 30%. This agreement between the real estate buyer and seller states price, completion date, what your Italy property is being bought and sold for, and also includes various guarantees from the vendor that he owns what he is selling and that the Italian property can be sold to you as described.

If he declares at the compromesso stage that there are no rights of way through the Italian property then he must be able to sell the real estate without any rights of way; if he cannot then confirm this, then he is in breach of the agreement and, if you are unwilling to accept the right of way, he must reimburse you with double your deposit. However, for this penalty to be applicable it is essential that the deposit is described as 'caparra confirmatoria'.

Italian real estate Law 2007 modifications the legal procss for buying property in Italy

A number of specific changes were made to Italian property law in January 2007. Take a deep breath and immerse yourself in some Italian Bureaurocracy. These changes were;

  • The buyer and vendor of Italian real estate must legally register the Preliminary Contract or 'compromesso' at the Agenzie delle Entrate (tax office) within twenty days of the date of signing. The Italian estate agency is also responsible for registration and the payment of fees and tax.
  • A fixed, non-refundable, registration fee of €168 is payable together with a variable amount equal to 0.50% of the deposit (caparra confirmatoria) or 3% of any other type of deposit paid before the completion (Atto notarile). The 3% also applies to any interim payments made between the preliminary contract and the completion - such as stage payments to a building company. However, the variable fee paid at this stage is deducted from the final tax bill at the completion.
  • F23 is the official form (modulo) to be used for this part of the registration and is stamped by the bank to confirm payment and taken to the Agenzia delle Entrate together with the original compromesso. An official stamp (bollo) with a value of Euro 14.62 (bought at a tabbacchi), must be applied to each four sides of the contract. The bollo must be applied if the contract is less than four sides and an additional bollo if the lines exceed one hundred even if there are fewer than four sides. Each attachment must also carry a bollo. The receipt from the Agenzie delle Entrate must be presented to the notary.
  • The 0.5% advanced tax payment may start to reduce the size of deposits that buyers are paying on Italian properties. However, the Italian real estate system means that the purchaser does not go into the contract stage lightly, nor does the vendor. If the purchaser reneges on the deal, the deposit is forfeit and, as shown above, if the vendor cannot meet the terms of the compromesso - or simply withdraws - then double the deposit must be reimbursed to the purchaser. If you are using an agent then estate agency fees are also usually payable when the compromesso is signed.

Notary checks

The notary for the sale of the Italian real estate should check the following aspects of the sale between Compromesso and Rogito stages. Satisfying these items, and any others you feel appropriate, should be included as conditions of the sale included within the Compromesso document. Don't expect a notary to speak English (few do) or any language other than Italian, or to explain the intricacies of Italian property law. A notary will rarely point out possible pitfalls in a contract, proffer advice or volunteer any information.

  • Verifying that the real estate in Italy belongs to the vendor, as shown in the deed ( rogito) and listed at the land registry ( catasto) or that he has the legal authority to sell it. The owner should produce a certified copy of the deed. The descriptions of the property at the land registry and on the deed should be identical.
  • Obtaining a certificate that an old property is fit for habitation (certificato di abitabilità);
  • Obtain certificates of inspection for all electrical and gas systems and appliances, which must be inspected annually. These must be attached to the deed of sale ( rogito).
  • If you're buying a listed building ( beni culturali), of which there are thousands in Italy, the notary should check whether the state wishes to exercise its right to pre-empt the sale ( diritto di prelazione). He should apply for the right to proceed with a sale after the signing of the preliminary contract and the state has 60 days in which to pre-empt it. If so, the contract becomes void and the seller is obliged to return your deposit. The notary should also check whether there are any restrictions over the use and possible future sale of the property and establish if any illegal restoration work has been carried out or any alterations have been made to a listed building, if they have then it can be confiscated by the state. You should ask your lawyer to check that both these things have been done.

ken wandering round Italy property for saleReal estate Italy- Legal Conditions of Sale

You must include the following into the compromesso as conditions of sale that must be satifisfied for the contract to be legally binding. You or your lawyer must investigate the following before completing the sale:

  • Check that there are no pre-emption rights over the Italian property and that there are no plans to construct anything (e.g. roads, railway lines, airports, shops, factories) that would adversely affect the value, enjoyment or use of the property.
  • Check whether there's a zoning policy (piano regolatore) in the town or area that may affect an Italian property you're planning to buy.
  • Check whether the Italian real estate is subject to a compulsory purchase order. If you buy a rural property (casa rurale), it could be subject to compulsory purchase by a neighbouring farmer under a farmer's rights (diritto del coltivatore) law. This law allows farmers who earn over 70 per cent of their income from agriculture or agro-tourism to increase the size of their property by giving them the right to buy adjacent buildings or land for up to two years after it has been sold. To avoid this, you can have your lawyer draw up a document asking the farmer to confirm within 30 days whether he intends to exercise his right of purchase. If the farmer doesn't declare his intention to buy the land within this period, he automatically waives any right to buy it in future. Note that if there is a tenant farmer renting the land you are buying, then these rights are his and you will need him to sign them away- beware farmers using this as a negotiating tool at the rogito stage (try to meet the farmer beforehand and discuss this face to face)
  • Check rights of way (servitù di passaggio). Land may have a mandatory right of way (servitù di necessità) for a neighbour whose only access is via your land; this may be permanent or renewable.
  • Ensure that building permits and planning permissions are in order and that the Italian property was built in accordance with plans and permits. Any modifications, renovations, extensions or additions (such as a swimming pool) must be included on the plans and be authorised. Plans must be checked against the cadastral plan at the land registry.
    In cases where a property has been inherited, check whether each inheritor has agreed to the sale. Heirs who haven't been contacted have up to five years to contest the will.
  • If a property was previously owned by a bankrupt company, ensure that the liquidator won't reverse the sale and claim it for the creditors;
  • Check that there are no encumbrances, e.g. mortgages or loans, against a property or outstanding debts. All unpaid debts on a property in Italy are inherited by the buyer. If you buy a property on which there's an outstanding loan or taxes, the lender or local authority has first claim on the property and has the right to take possession and sell it to repay the debt. Any debts against a property must therefore be cleared before you sign the deed of sale (rogito). Enquire at the town hall whether there are any unpaid taxes such as Italian property tax (ICI) or other charges outstanding against a property.
  • Check that there are no outstanding community (condominio) charges for the last five years (it may be possible for a vendor to pay the last year and ignore previous bills) and obtain copies of the co-ownership rules and the latest accounts of the community of owners (which should state whether there are any impending levies for repairs for which you would be liable);
  • Check that all bills for electricity, water, telephone and gas have been paid for the last few years. Receipts should be provided by the vendor for all taxes and services.
  • Before buying land, obtain a certificate from the local town hall stating what can be built on it and what the property and the land can be used for. It's important to check the size of dwelling that can be built on a plot or how far an existing building can be extended.
  • If the property is a listed building, check that the notary has made the necessary enquiries concerning state pre-emption rights and restrictions on use or resale.
  • Obtaining planning permissions for a pool.
  • Obtaining a mortgage.
Good luck or as they say here "In bocca al lupo"

Property Restoration Help

Please visit our help & advice page, our page explaining the legal process for buying a house in Italy, our Italy property purchase tip sheet and our calculator to estimate Italy property renovation costs