Buying a property in Italy may seem quite daunting – the Italian bureaucracy is indeed known for causing confusion. However, even if buying a house in Italy is definitely different from buying a house in the USA, it is actually a straightforward process. Moreover, purchasing a property in Italy is perfectly safe and legal for American citizens.
The entire process of buying a property requires the presence of professionals who will have different roles. In other words, you’ll need a lawyer, a public accountant and a surveyor.
One of the most essential figures in this field is the Notary, “notaio”, a public officer whose role is to authenticate important legal paperwork. However, the role of the Notary goes further than this.
A Notary is a neutral party who assists the client throughout the purchase process. At the beginning of negotiations, the buyer has the right to choose the Notary who will check the accuracy of the paperwork regarding the property. Choosing a Notary is entirely up to the client who will pay the Notary fees. However, when purchasing a house through a real estate agent, foreign buyers often seek help from the Notary who has been recommended to them by the agents. In any case, the Notary should be based in the same area of the property you are purchasing.
What is the role of a Notary in the purchase process?
Whether the property is sold by a private individual or by a real estate agent, the Notary will be responsible for checking all the documents regarding the sale, and by keeping a position of neutrality. Indeed, the Notary cannot act in favour of the interests of neither of the two parties involved. The Notary also authenticates documents and contracts and witness the signatories’ decisions.
Other duties that are carried out by the Notary include:
- Verifying whether there are other people who claim the same property by researching the land registry;
- Verifying whether there are any mortgages on the property;
- Verifying the existence of building permits;
- Verifying both the buyer and the seller’s identities;
- Checking that both parties are entitled to selling and buying the property;
- Checking that the previous owner has paid all the service charges;
- Verifying that the cadastral registries reflect the real state of the property;
Moreover, a Notary prepares the Atto di Vendita (Deed of Sale) on the basis of both the seller and the real estate agent’s conditions. He reads out the terms of the contract in order for them to be clear to the parties involved. After signing the Deed of Sale and the registering the Deed, every party receives a copy of the contract. After this phase the Notary checks that the details of the new owner have been registered at the Land Registry. In order to sign the Final Deed of Sale and complete the transaction, both parties will need to provide their IDs and a codice fiscale (the Italian tax code).
It is important to underline that the final payment and the handover of the keys take place during this phase.
How much does a Notary cost?
The costs of a Notary are in the range of a few thousand euros. The fees depend on many factors such as the area where the property is located, the value of the property and the rates charged by the Notary. Notary fees generally range from 1% to 2.5% of the declared value of the property. The cost of a Notary is generally fixed on a national scale thus the cost between one Notary and another varies slightly.
To conclude, buying a property in Italy requires adhering to a number of rules and a rigorous procedure but it is not as complicated as it may seem. We hope that this article has clarified some of the most important steps regarding the role of the Notary in real estate transactions, and that it has provided you with a useful insight into the workings of real estate transactions in Italy.