Over the past years we have provided consultation for overseas property investors as well as for retirees who relocated to Italy. While helping a wide variety of clients we noticed that they all had the same doubts and questions.
In order to help potential purchasers who are interested in buying property in Italy we have prepared a list of questions that are often asked and we have provided some answers. If you have any other queries please contact us by completing our contact form.
Is investing in the Italian real estate market safe?
Italy is a beautiful country with a special and unique culture. Furthermore, it is a founding member of the European Union (EU) and a member of the Euro Zone.
The conveyance process in Italy is regulated by the Italian Civil Code and it is very safe. However, it is fundamental (as generally required for any investment) that the purchaser pays attention to a number of details and makes sure that the seller is entitled to sell the property (an Italian professional can help you to perform these checks).
What is the average time required from formalizing an offer to completing the purchasing process?
Assuming no particular problems arise, after the legal due diligence is carried out by an attorney or by another professionals, the whole process can be completed in 4 – 6 weeks.
Do I need an Italian Tax Code to complete the transaction? What are the requirements and how long does it take to obtain a tax code?
The “Codice Fiscale” is commonly translated as “Tax Code” or “Fiscal Code” or “Tax Number”. It is an Italian identification code which is necessary to perform many financial transactions in Italy, including real estate transactions. A Tax Code for individuals, as opposed to private entities, is formed by 16 alphanumerical characters which take into account an individual’s name, date and place of birth.
Do I need an Italian Bank Account to complete the transaction?
Although having an Italian Bank Account is not mandatory to complete the transaction, it is highly advisable to set-up an Italian Bank Account to simplify the transfer of funds from the buyer to the seller. Furthermore, non-Italian citizens and non-Italian residents can open an Italian bank account. Non-Italian residents are allowed to open non-resident bank accounts (“conto corrente per non residenti”) regardless of their nationality.
Should I use a real estate agent to complete the purchase?
Although it is not mandatory to use the services offered by a real estate agent under Italian law, many investors find it easier to do so . If you need help from a real estate agent, you should make sure that the agent is registered with the local Chamber of Commerce (“Ruolo degli Agenti di Affari in Mediazione”), as required by Italian law.
You can also decide to purchase the property directly from the seller without the real estate agency’s help and this will save you money in terms of the agency’s commission fees (normally 3% of the purchase price). However, this last solution may be safe only if you are assisted by an Italian legal advisor who is bilingual.
Unfortunately, I don’t have sufficient energy or time to travel to Italy. Would it be feasible for another person to represent me and finalize the purchase on my behalf so I can avoid travelling back and forth?
Yes, it is possible to delegate somebody you trust to complete the purchase of a property in Italy on your behalf by means of a Power of Attorney (“Procura Speciale”). A Power of Attorney (PoA) gives another individual the power to legally represent you during the purchasing process in Italy. In other words, you can give an Italian attorney or any other trusted individual the ability to act on your behalf and legally represent you in all the formalities that need to be completed in order to finalize the purchase.
Can I grant a Power of Attorney only for the completion of one specific formality or do I have to grant a Power of Attorney for the management of the whole process in Italy?
A Power of Attorney can be as vast or restricted as you need. In fact, it can be limited to one particular formality or it can include the powers to handle all of the aspects where your signature and presence would be required (for example during the negotiation and determination of the purchase price, declaration of specific personal circumstances, application for tax reduction, etc.). It is also possible to use a Power of Attorney to apply for a mortgage. In conclusion, a Power of Attorney can be used throughout the entire process of purchasing a property in Italy without being physically present in the country at any time.
Why should I hire a lawyer when I am already using the services of an Italian Notary Public?
The Italian legal system attributes to a Public notary (“Notaio Pubblico”) a predominant role in drafting the purchase agreement of Italian real estate. Unlike common law countries where the role played by lawyers in real estate transactions is exhaustive, Italian attorneys are involved in transactions mainly during the initial phases of the purchasing process. These include carrying out due diligence and negotiating the terms and conditions between the parties. On the other hand, an Italian Public Notary has a very specific role under Italian law. Italian Public Notaries do not represent the seller or the buyer, rather, they serve as neutral parties who work for the Italian Government.
Is a preliminary contract of sale legally binding?
Yes, a preliminary contract of sale is legally binding under Italian law. If you sign a preliminary contract of sale and cannot complete the purchase you will most likely lose your deposit. The seller may also take the buyer to court to seek additional financial compensation.
Do I need an interpreter to sign the contract of sale before the Notary? If yes, can I use one appointed by the vendor and/or the real estate agent?
When signing the Deed of Sale, if the purchaser is not fluent in Italian, the Italian law requires the presence of an interpreter. If the interpreter is appointed by the vendor and/or by the real estate agent it is advisable to verify that the interpreter is indeed qualified both from a legal and a linguistic point of view. It is against the law for an interpreter to have a conflict of interest against one of the parties.
I need to renovate my property and I am already in contact with a contractor. Will I need a contract?
Yes, usually renovation works are part of legally binding contracts. It is always advisable to have a contract which has been professionally drafted by a lawyer where all of the obligations, terms, conditions and fees are listed in detail. This can save time and money and might prevent the need of a lawsuit in case the contractor does not fulfill its obligations.
I am in the process of purchasing a property in Italy. As of now, I do not have an Italian attorney who can represent me but I have a few legal matters that I would like to discuss. Can you help me?
Definitely. Contact us using by using the contact form on this website and we will reply within 24 hours.