The Buying Process And Legal Advice

The Process of Buying an Italian Property

Our aim is to help you find your perfect home in Italy and to minimise the risks associated with buying Italian property.

The unfamiliarity of the Italian legal system and the bureaucracy involved in buying a home in Italy can make the process appear nerve wracking and complicated.

The biggest difference from the United Kingdom is that Italians do not use legal advisers to carry out property searches and draw up the contract.

In Italy these tasks are divided between the estate agent and the notary who is acting on behalf of the State to ensure that the transaction is properly registered and that the correct taxes are collected.

In order to protect your interests it is advisable to instruct your own solicitor locally to deal with the legal formalities on your behalf. Vista Lago Homes can help advise you along the way.

The stages of the conveyancing process are as follows:

  1. Having seen a home in Italy that you are interested in you need to decide whether to instruct a surveyor to commission a structural report on the Italian property. This may be particularly helpful if the house in Italy needs restoring and you want some idea of the cost involved in doing so.
  2. Once you have agreed a price you may wish to enter into a proposta irrevocabile d'acquisto. This is a document setting out a preliminary intention to buy your home in Italy akin to an option in the UK. The document is signed by both parties and a small deposit, say around 1,000 €, is held by either the Italian estate agent or the notary which is forfeited by the seller if the buyer changes his mind or is released to the seller once the initial contract is signed. This can be a useful document if say the buyer needs to organise a mortgage before being able to proceed with the Italian property purchase.
  3. Once both parties are ready to proceed they will sign a compromesso di vendita translated as a 'promise to buy'. This is the single most important document when buying a house in Italy as it defines the property and binds the parties to complete the transaction on a predicted date. There is also space to insert conditional clauses if, for example, the Italian property purchase is dependent on the seller complying with certain obligations. At this stage a deposit of between 10-30% of the purchase price is paid to the seller.
  4. Once the notary has carried out the relevant searches and ensured that there are no liens or impediments on the property then the atto di acquisto, or final contract, is signed. This has to be signed in the notary's office in the presence of both parties and two official witnesses.

If you do not speak Italian then you will need to have an interpreter with you at the notary's office for the final signing to ensure that you have understood the wording of the final contract. This can be a costly expense.

We are able to provide you with a full translation service so that you have copies of all the legal documents translated into English before you sign them as well as providing you with an interpreter at a much reduced rate on the completion date.

Trusted & Reliable Legal Professionals

In Italy it is not necessary to employ a legal advisor to carry out title checks and searches on your behalf. The work of carrying out searches and preparing the contracts is divided up between the Italian estate agent and a notary.

The notary is a public official responsible for completing the sale, collecting the taxes and registering the transfer of the property. Notaries are not there to represent either party in the transaction but act on behalf of the state to ensure that all the formalities are complied with.

Similarly the Italian estate agent is being paid a commission by both parties in a transaction and is mainly concerned to ensure that the transaction goes through as quickly as possible.

We are able to talk you through the process of buying your Italian home and we can supply translated versions of the documents that you will need to sign. We can also provide an interpreter when you sign the final contract at the notary's office. It is a legal requirement that you have a translator if you do not speak fluent Italian and this can be costly without help.

However, if you would feel more secure having a lawyer to represent your interests then we can also recommend a local legal adviser to assist you. Italian planning regulations vary enormously from one region to the next. For this reason, you are much better off hiring a lawyer who practices in the area in which you are going to buy your Italian home rather than hiring either UK solicitors with Italian expertise or even Anglo-Italian solicitors based elsewhere in Italy.

We can recommend a lawyer who knows the area well to advise you should any aspect of the sale be a cause for concern, and who can check that the paperwork the estate agent and the notary have prepared is in order, that all the correct searches have been done and that the person you are paying for your home in Italy is the legal owner.

Similarly, if you need the services of a local surveyor to provide a report on the property before you make a commitment to buy then we can also recommend someone locally to assist you.


Call us now if you need any help with the buying process or require any legal advice:

Telephone: +44 (0)1202 478665


Skype: vistalagohomes