Buying and Selling Property in Italy

When purchasing or selling a home in Italy, where the language, method, and associated technicalities may not be familiar to you, you should seek out independent legal guidance to prevent any dangers.


Separate legal representation for the buyer and the seller is uncommon in Italy during the course of a property sale or acquisition. Notaio, a public official who forms the deed of sale, should instead represent and advise both parties equally, checking that everything is in line.


With the help of an agent, you are more likely to obtain an official offer in writing from a potential buyer. The “caparra” (deposit check) will accompany the formal offer. If the offer is approved, you will get this deposit, and the offer will become known as a “compromesso,” or the preliminary agreement.


This agreement is legally binding, thus any offer received by an agent must be thoroughly vetted before being signed. Any terms that appropriately safeguard you can be inserted by a lawyer. A lawyer should also review the mandate of any agent before it is signed.


If you need more time before the transaction may go through, executing a preliminary contract in a private sale may be worth it. For example, if you inherit a property and have found a buyer but cannot sell until the Italian succession procedure is complete, a preliminary contract might be appropriate. It might also be used to bind the buyer and seller together in a single transaction.


There will be a deadline in the preliminary contract that both parties must meet unless they mutually agree to an extension. If the seller fails to finish the project by the agreed-upon date, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract and claim a refund of their deposit plus any damages they have experienced as a result of the seller’s failure to deliver. After this deadline, the seller can rescind, retain the deposit they’ve received, and demand damages from the buyer if they don’t finish the transaction.


The seller may not be able to close because of difficulties with the property’s compliance. The Land Registry must be amended before a property may be sold if, for example, renovations or construction have been performed without the necessary authorization or planning clearances. These faults may have gone unreported at the time of purchase since current construction regulations are tougher than they were in the past. Prior to signing a preliminary contract, you should be informed of any concerns that may prevent you from meeting the agreed-upon deadline for the sale of your property.


To ensure the property has all necessary planning approvals and that the floor plans registered with the Land Registry accurately represent its current state, we recommend hiring a local architect or surveyor, regardless of whether you’re the buyer or seller (the seller has to declare that it is in the deed of sale).



Civil and criminal repercussions can result from selling a property knowing that it has construction or other flaws (the deed of sale might be nullified and damages, together with the whole purchase price, granted to the buyer).


In order to prevent acquiring a property with concerns that may have a negative impact in the future, a buyer should either receive this report or request that the seller produce one,


If an apartment is being sold, the seller must verify that the condominium has all of the necessary credentials, including the “certificato di agibilita'” (a certificate which confirms that the building containing the apartment adheres to all the health and safety regulations). There’s no guarantee a transaction would go through without it, but a buyer has the right to require that it be included in the selling agreement. Sellers are required under the preliminary contract to deliver it by this date, or else the buyer might claim that they are in breach and get back twice the money. In most cases, the buyer will seek for a discount on the purchase price because of the lack of this certificate.


There will be a conference when all parties can hear the deed of sale read aloud, iron out any last-minute concerns, and finally sign the deed of sale after the Notaio has completed his or her checks and any other issues have been settled.


Alternatively, you can order someone else to sign the deed on your behalf using a Power of Attorney. The deed must be translated into English by a qualified translation if you are signing it in person and do not know Italian.


It is the seller’s responsibility to supply Notaio with copies of all required planning licences, as well as the property energy certificate and certificate of use for the site (such as proof of title). A letter from the condominium administration indicating that no payments are owing is required if an apartment is being sold.


On top of that, the seller will have to pay a 20% capital gains tax (Plusvalenza) on the sale of the property. If the property is being sold within five years after purchase and is not listed as the seller’s primary residence, the seller is liable for the property’s sale. If the property was inherited, capital gains tax will not be applied.


Imposte di registro” (registration costs, agency fees, and taxes) are the responsibility of the buyer (Registration taxes). The “valore catastale” of the property, which is the property’s tax value, is used to compute these fees.


Taxes are reduced to 2% of the valore catastale if the purchaser states that the property would be their primary dwelling (“prima casa”). To avoid hefty fines, the buyer must register as a resident at his new property’s address within 18 months after signing the transfer, or he will be immediately subject to additional taxes.


If the seller has an Italian bank account, the buyer can either hand over a banker’s draught at the rogito or make a bank transfer to settle the rest of the purchase price. These monies may be held on account by the Notaio and sent to the vendor.


After signing the deed of sale, cash may not be received by the seller for 14 working days, since the financial institution must conduct checks to confirm that they would be the first lienholders on the property, if applicable.


It’s finalised and turned over to the new owner once the deed of sale has been signed by everyone involved. It is the Notaio’s responsibility to pay all applicable taxes and fees on behalf of the buyer, and to amend the Land Registry to reflect the transfer of ownership, as well as any charges that may have been levied.


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