Hello everyone, I am Alberto Zarro, CEO of the real estate agency Rolling Hills based in Montepulciano, Tuscany.
In this article I will explain to all the people interested in buying a house in Italy, what are the various steps to follow in order to make a purchase, avoiding unnecessary delays and mistakes that are made more often by less experienced people in the field.
In particular I am addressing foreign customers who are not familiar with the territory and do not know Italian law.
BUYING A HOUSE IN ITALY ON YOUR OWN OR THROUGH A REAL ESTATE AGENCY?
Probably you are wondering whether to contact a real estate agency or not.
In our previous article we explained who the real estate agent is and what role he plays in Italy (read the article "THE REAL ESTATE AGENT IN ITALY").
Surely, unless you are an expert in the field, having a professional figure operating in the territory that supports you throughout the purchase process will be of great benefit.
Remember that finding the ideal house for your needs is only part of the work that a good real estate agent will do.
First of all, try to ask yourself:
- Do I have a knowledge of the territory that will allow me to find the right house for my needs?
- Do I know what are the laws that regulate the relationship between Italy and my country of residence?
- Do I know what documents I need to buy?
- Do I know which documents the seller will have to show me to understand if everything is in order?
- Am I able to correctly examine the documents that the seller will give me?
- Do I know the difference between the role of the real estate agent, the lawyer and the Notary in Italy?
These are just some of the most common questions to ask yourself. If you don't already know these preliminary answers my advice is to choose a good real estate agent and rely on him/her.
You won't regret it!
DESCRIBE IN DETAIL TO YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT THE CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR DREAM HOME.
Once you have chosen your real estate agent, describe in detail what you are looking for.
One of the most common mistakes that the clients make is to contact a thousand agencies without describing in detail to anyone the features they are looking for.
This is one of the classic mistakes that will lead you to lose a lot of time and money.
Describe at best what you are looking for, is a general rule that applies to all potential buyers, but even more so to a foreign customer who does not reside in Italy.
For example, think of a family in London who wants to buy a house to spend their holidays in Tuscany, will normally plan a 3 or 4 day trip in which they will focus all the inspections.
Imagine now the disappointment at the end of the trip when they will realize that every house that they have visited was missing something ... maybe the next tour will be planned in 3 or 4 months;
in doing so they will invest time and money unnecessarily.
Remember: quantity does not mean quality!
Think instead of the advantage of having a professional who knows all your needs, he/she will select the most suitable objects before your arrival;
in this way you can visit a small package of properties and maybe spend some of your precious time visiting the countries that are close to your future home.
What's the point of buying something perfect in a place we don't like?
If you have never heard of the Sole agent service read our article "SOLE AGENT".
LET'S ASSUME NOW THAT YOU HAVE FINALLY FOUND YOUR DREAM HOME ... WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE PROCESS OF BUYING A HOUSE IN ITALY?
The purchase process can be schemed in the following steps:
- The BUY OFFER: The first thing to do is to formalize together with your real estate agent a purchase offer where you will put on paper the conditions for which you are willing to buy, including price, timing and modalities.
The drafting of a good offer is a fundamental point of the negotiation that, contrary to what you might think, will avoid unnecessary waste of time and the emergence of misunderstandings between those who buy and those who sell a house;
many people try to bypass this phase by setting up an informal negotiation via email: nothing more wrong!
An alternative could be to write a letter of interest before the offer, to check beforehand whether there is a chance to reach an agreement, but it all depends on what you are buying and what your goal is.
There must be a series of reciprocal commitments within the purchase offer that bind and protect both the buyer and the seller so that the deal is carried out in complete transparency for all parties involved.
In order to be credible, the purchase offer must be accompanied by a deposit (normally 10% of the price), which can be paid to the real estate agent immediately or paid upon acceptance by the seller.
Depending on the specific circumstances you will decide who will hold the deposit until the final contract.
For example, if you are buying an old farmhouse, it may happen that there are small discrepancies to be remedied or a right of pre-emption on the land by the neighboring farmer, in these cases it will be wise to decide to pay the deposit to the notary until everything has been settled.
In case everything is in order you can pay the deposit directly to the seller.
At this stage the relationship of trust with your real estate agent plays a fundamental role. Having a professional who critically examines the documents in his/her possession and keeps you up to date explaining everything there is to know is certainly a huge support not to be underestimated.
As regards the function of the various types of deposit and the difference between deposit and down payment we will write a special in-depth analysis (in update).
- PRELIMINARY SALE CONTRACT: once the seller will have accepted your offer, if necessary the preliminary notary contract of sale or compromise will be signed, on which the terms of the signed offer will be reported and integrated.
In another article we will explain to you the difference in legal terms between the purchase offer, the preliminary contract of sale drawn up by a notary public and the preliminary contract drawn up by a real estate agent;
these differences can be preliminarily summarized in the following points:
1. First of all, under Italian law the Notary is a public official, the real estate agent is a mediator; the two figures play different roles and have different responsibilities.
Below you will find the link to the website of the National Council of Notaries (https://www.notariato.it/), on this site you can search for a notary public, check if a notary public is regularly registered and find many other useful information.
2. The Notary will authenticate your signatures, i.e. he will guarantee that the signature has been affixed in his presence, after having ascertained the identity of the person signing;
3. A preliminary purchase contract can be drawn up by any professional but the Notary as a public official can both register and transcribe a contract while the real estate agent must and can only register the contract.
We will go into this in more detail in a special article but in general we can say that:
The registration of the preliminary contract is mandatory, it must be done within 20 days from the signature at the office of the Inland Revenue (https://www.agenziaentrate.gov.it/portale/) and essentially has a dual function: to give a certain date to the act and the fulfilment of the tax burden.
The transcription in the public real estate registers is NOT compulsory, it is a fulfilment that is defined as declaratory publicity, has a limited duration in time (up to 3 years from the transcription or 1 year from the date agreed by the parties for the final deed) and serves to make the contract opposable to third parties even if they ignore its existence; in essence it is an additional guarantee for the buyer that prevents the seller from taking other commitments on the house he is selling.
It is useful to point out that a well-structured offer containing certain elements is in itself already a preliminary contract from which specific commitments are derived for each of the parties involved.
Each real estate purchase and sale has peculiarities that make it unique, so the rules set out in this article are general rules that must be adapted to each specific case.
For example, sometimes, with due caution, it may be more convenient to register the purchase proposal and make the final contract directly without intermediate steps.
- FINAL CONTRACT OF SALE: The process of buying a house is concluded with the final contract of sale stipulated by a Notary who will be obligatorily registered and transcribed.
The Notary Public will have to verify that the commitments made by the seller and buyer in the preliminary contract have been fulfilled and more generally will have to ensure that:
• the notarial deed is in accordance with the will of the parties;
• the notarial deed is valid and therefore complies with the law;
• the legal effects of the deed are not affected by liens or rights of third parties (e.g. mortgages, foreclosures, easements, liens, etc.) of which the notary has not notified the parties.
CONGRATULATIONS YOU ARE NOW OFFICIALLY THE OWNERS OF A MAGNIFICENT HOUSE IN ITALY!
FOR ANY INFORMATION OR CLEARANCE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US at firstname.lastname@example.org AND VISIT OUR FANTASTIC SELECTION OF HOUSES FOR SALE