Owning real estate in Italy is a lifetime dream for those attracted by the beauty of ancient cities, long-lasting traditions, friendly and welcoming communities, amazing food and wine, and miles of stunning coastline. However, dealing with a foreign country’s bureaucracy can sometimes turn into a nightmare when you are not familiar with the system. Let’s face it, Italy doesn’t have a service-oriented culture and it is up to each investor to find the best way to handle a real estate transaction. But it doesn’t have to be that way when you have someone explaining the system to you and helping you connect all the dots.
An Italian closing/completion is the last step in purchasing or selling a property and it is handled by a notary public acting as public official. The notary oversees all transactions, verifies the identity of the parties and their entitlement to the transaction, collects all taxes due for the transaction, makes sure all documents are in order and in compliance with the law, and registers the new title deed with the land registry after closing. Real estate transactions in Italy are not usually covered by title insurance. Therefore, a notary represents the legal authority a purchaser or seller needs. Nonetheless, notaries usually do not represent a specific side interest.
A closing/completion is usually preceded by a purchase offer or a preliminary purchase contract. These steps are usually handled by real estate agents who often use standard forms that are adapted to each case with minor modifications. Real estate agents are usually prepared to handle these steps and answer most questions. However, when approaching an agent, an investor needs to keep in mind that the agent should only represent the interest of one party. When an agent represents both parties, buyer and purchaser, there may be a conflict of interest. Agents usually receive compensation for their work only if the transaction comes to completion.
In most cases, there is a lot of information to take in and many steps to be taken before making an offer on a property or listing a property for sale. Having complete information on a property can save you the trouble of getting to the final steps of the transaction only to find out that the deal is not beneficial after all.
Before looking for or trying to sell a property, you probably need a real estate agent. When you find one, you need to establish who and when gets the commission and whom the agent is representing.
If you are Italian and live in Italy, you may know how to figure out the property value and if construction was performed regularly with proper work permits filed with the municipality. You may also verify that the owner has the certificate of occupancy of the property, or if you are buying a land lot, you may need to obtain the town planning use class certificate beforehand to make sure you are buying the right property for your intentions. You may want to find out if there is a lien on the property and of what nature it is, or if the property is burdened by a restriction due to landscape protection. In other words, you may need to run a land registry search by the Catasto or the Conservatoria.
You may need to find out if the seller indeed has the right to sell and the origin of the seller’s rights on the property, because when a property is donated, the donation could be disputed by third parties claiming to have rights on the property.
If you are not in Italy, these operations can be hard to coordinate. Contacting an attorney to assist you through the process often appears to be the safest way to collect information. A knowledgeable attorney will guide you through all the steps and will indicate the right professional to contact to obtain all the above information. However, that comes with the related legal fees.
The alternative solution to handle the steps in a real estate transaction is to hire a consulting company to help you coordinate the right professionals, reverting to an attorney only for matters that are of strict legal nature. The same outcome will be achieved at a fraction of the cost.
Bureasy professionals have extensive experience with any kind of real estate transaction and can help you coordinate all the steps involved in your case, including assistance with your Italian tax code or Power of Attorney (PoA) at very competitive rates. You may contact us for a free consultation.