As Europe and the UK open up again after lockdown and the real estate market across Europe attempts recovery following the dire effects of the coronavirus crisis; the prospects may not be as discouraging as initially anticipated. Real estate is a key industry sector in any country's economic fortunes and the four-pronged approach that the Italian government has taken - low-interest rates, the preparedness of Italian banks to lend, financially favourable schemes for purchase, (mainly in southern Italy), together with advantageous tax schemes for certain purchasers, all provide significant opportunities for buying property in Italy. 

Just as we have been living in circumstances unprecedented in living memory, so are the opportunities for purchasers considering buying property in Italy.  The current opportunities may never come again.  Gambrone's highly experienced Italian real estate team are actively involved in assisting prospective purchasers to navigate their way through the schemes, advising on the best approach when dealing with the Italian authorities involved and supporting them through the various processes required to access the schemes.

If you have decided to grasp the investment opportunities available in Italy and make your first purchase, the lawyers in Giambrone's real estate team point out that the conveyancing process is not the same in Italy as that in the UK and there are some differences that the British purchaser will not be familiar with.  Giambrone's real estate lawyers can provide you with more than one advantage to give you the edge; with offices in the UK and Italy you can orchestrate your purchase from the UK whilst also gaining hands-on presence in Italy as well as multi-lingual lawyers can explain everything in your own language. 

Here are some things to be aware of and to look out for in an outline of the process of buying a property in Italy:

  • Initially you should be aware that you will need to obtain an identification code – Codice Fiscale (the Fiscal Code)  this is based on your name, place of birth and date of birth together with and control and municipal code from the Italian authorities and forms the unique identifying piece of information you will require for any dealings with the Italian authorities. 
  • You will need to open an Italian bank account, as it is obligatory for the payment for your new property to pass through an Italian bank account as a banker's draft as well as the utility and any tax payments that are due, this is something Giambrone can do for you.  
  • There is a raft of documentation that vendors have to provide to prospective purchasers to establish that the property offered for sale is compliant with all regulatory demands as well as being free from hidden defects. 
  • Once you have selected the property you wish to buy, an offer of purchase (proposta di acquisto) must be made in writing.  Once the vendor signs and accepts the offer, he has undertaken not to sell the property to anyone else up to a designated date.  This requirement removes the possibility of gazumping.
  • The next step is equivalent to land registry checks (Conservatoria e Catasto) the same as in the UK, the property is investigated to ensure that the vendor actually owns the property and that there are no loans against the title of the property.
  • A preliminary agreement of sale (Compromesso) is drawn-up and this legally binding document will state the agreed price of the property, the completion date and also outlines any rights the property may have.  This document is legally binding on both parties.
  • A deposit is required once the preliminary contract is signed which is usually 10 per cent of the purchase price.  At this point, if the vendor wishes to withdraw he will have to repay the deposit plus an amount equal to the deposit (a total sum of double the deposit)  Should the purchaser wish to withdraw the deposit is lost.  Furthermore, whoever breaches the agreement may be sued by the other party and damages may be sought.
  • The deed of sale (Atto di Vendita also called Rogito) that must be fully compliant with all the details and essential terms contained in the preliminary agreement, is executed when all the documentation is confirmed as accurate and all monies have been paid.
  • A Public Notary will be required to certify a copy of the deed and register the certified copy with the name of the new owners at the relevant Land Registry Office  (Catasto)

When the sale is finalised there will be other fees to pay such as the estate agent's fee, Stamp duty (Imposta di Registro) which is calculated on a percentage basis  – Land registry tax (Imposta Ipotecaria) which is a fixed fee  – Cadastral Tax (Imposta catastale) which is also a fixed fee.  There are also taxes linked to the municipal running costs such as refuse collection and road maintenance and any professional fees that may have been incurred, such as the notary's and lawyers' fees.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.