Buying a property in Italy as a foreigner can be difficult, and in most cases, it is advisable to get the help of a Real Estate agent. In Italy, by law an agent must be registered with the local chamber of commerce (camera di commercio) and hold a certificate issued by the local municipality (comune) as proof of registration. An agent should also be registered with the federation of mediators and agents (FIMAA), the Italian association of estate agents (AICI), or the federation of professional estate agents (FIAIP). You should always check that your agent is duly qualified.
You will have to pay the Real Estate agent a commission that can vary around 2-3% of the purchase price + VAT (22% of the agent’s commission fee). The agent’s commission usually has to be paid upon signing the preliminary sales contract and not upon the completion of the transaction, so you should ensure that commissions are refundable if the sale is unsuccessful.
Aside from qualification and costs, it is very important to understand that you might face cultural differences. One of the major differences you will face is that in Italy the same agent represents the buyer and the seller, unlike in the United States, where one agent represents the buyer and another agent represents the seller. The Italian Real Estate agent is a mediator who helps both parties to find a viable economic agreement. However, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Most Italian agents operate locally and, therefore, they may be related to the seller, in which case the agent might favour the seller’s interests rather than the buyer’s. Moreover, agents might have a potential conflict of interest in representing the buyer in the legal process since the main goal of the agent is to sell the property on behalf of the seller in order to earn a commission. This means that in order to protect the seller’s interests, the Real Estate agent might also overlook some property defects.
It should be noted that pursuant to Article 1176 of the Italian Civil Code, Italian Real Estate agents are not required to carry out any technical or legal search (due diligence) related to the property, nor they are qualified to do so. The lack of due diligence could affect the transaction itself or, later on, the ownership or a potential resale of the property. Everything related to the due diligence of Italian real estate purchases should be handled by legal professionals.
This is why we think that although the support of a Real Estate agent is surely needed when buying a house in Italy, when making sure your purchase of an Italian property is safe the technical and legal aspects of due diligence should be handled by experienced lawyers and surveyors like ourselves.
Undertaking a Real Estate transaction in Italy can be a very complex and expensive process without the help of specialized professionals who can provide invaluable help with translating highly technical Italian legal language and explaining Italy’s legal, fiscal and administrative systems.
In other words, in order to avoid problems and before signing any document, the need for an experienced and independent lawyer is crucial.
Here at Italian Real Estate Lawyers we are specialized in cross-border property transactions in Italy. We are fully aware of the degree of responsibility involved in a purchasing process for any type of property, be it a small vacation home for which you might have saved up for many years, a commercial property or a Real Estate investment for your retirement. We are aware that purchasing a property can be a very stressful process and we will help you to the best of our ability. We will assist you throughout the entire process!
If you have any queries please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.