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Italy’s Buying System : The Purchase Process

The British, Americans, European part of EC or our of it, Russian, Chinese,North and South Americans, Africans and Australians, Middle and Far East citizens and people from all over the world have the same right to buy in Italy as the Italians do, but the legal processes will not be like those you are used to in your home countries.
Here is a summary of the procedures and documents necessary to buy a property in Italy:

If you are planning to purchase a property in Italy or want to open an Italian bank account, you will need a Codice Fiscale.
What is it? The Codice Fiscale is a number issued by the Agenzia delle Entrate (the Italian Revenue Agency) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy. It will be necessary to go to the appropriate tax offices in each Provincial Capital City: just bring your passport and fill out a simple form. The tax code will be released immediately.
Just a suggestion:ask your Re Agent and he will be happy to do it for you!

You may need an Italian bank account to transfer money for your property purchase, as the notary will ask for banker’s drafts from an Italian Bank.
Opening a current account in any Italian bank is very simple: just step in an Italian bank with your passport and your tax code and with even a minimal amount of money your bank account will be immediately opened.

When you find a property that you’re keen to buy, it is important to ask your agent for detailed information about the transaction, what property features are included in the sale, title information, building compliance, applicable transaction taxes, ongoing costs (e.g., maintenance, taxes), energy supply and seller’s solvency before committing to a purchase.

You may want to get a survey done. You should consider that there are professionals  who  can do that  with swiftness and precision: one of these professionals is the Geometra, a  figure with no equivalent outside of Italy.  The Geomatra is not an architect, nor a supervisor or an inspector, but  someone in-betwenn: he has the professional skill to  correctly evaluate  the conditions of the property you want to buy: he  will check that there are not structural lacks, yieldings or any sort of defects (hydraulic system, electric, heating, etc).
If, then, the property needs renovating you will also want to get quotes for labour and materials, as well as costs involved in getting planning permission (if required.) . Furthermore , it could be useful to meet the neighbors and ask around locally for information about the area, services, logistic … and noisy neighbors. All this information may affect the offer you make.

Initially you will negotiate the price verbally through the estate agent. You could then do a purchase proposal (proposta di acquisto) which is a declaration by the buyer that he wants to purchase the property at a certain price.
Once signed you are then making a commitment to purchase. But the seller is not yet obliged to accept. He will be obliges once he signs your proposal.

Once accepted by the seller the Proposal of Purchase should be converted into a Preliminary Contract (Contratto Preliminare) signed also by the seller. This is a proper contract that obligates both parties to sign the final contract.
The preliminary contract stipulates the main elements of the transaction such as the sale price and the identity of the property, its address, plot numbers, a detailed description using information from the Land Registry and the date of the final contract.
It is not mandatory for the preliminary contract to be drawn up by a notary, but it may be useful to have a notary clarify some issues. Once the seller signs it , he is accepting the offered price and he undertakes not to sell the property to anyone else. At this stage the buyer pays a deposit of an limited amount to be defined.
Under typical conditions laid out in the contract, if either of the two parties pulls out of the business transaction and reneges, she/he will have to pay damages:  if the buyer pulls out, she/he will lose the deposit she/he has paid; if the vendor pulls out, she/he will have to return twice the amount deposited at the moment of the Preliminary Contract.
If all necessary paperwork is in order you could skip the Preliminary Contract and move directly to the final purchase deed. This is where the notary comes in.

As a buyer, you choose (and pay) the notary. By law, the notary acts as a third party who is independent of both seller and buyer, ensuring that the conveyance of the property complies with all legal requirements. Once the nature of the deed to be drawn up has been defined, the notary must by law perform a series of up-front checks on legality so that the contract will stand the test of time and be unassailable. Once the Rogito is signed, the remaining amount of the agreed price is paid, along with expenses and the notary’s fees.  The notary will then see to registering the contract:  only when the acts are registered at the Office of the Public Property Register, the real estate will be finally yours.

If the buyer is ready and the house is vacant, six to eight weeks is usual to get to the final contract.

The seller and buyer attend the Notary’s office to witness and sign the public Deed of Sale ( also called Rogito). If you are unable to attend in person you can be represented by a Power of Attorney.
On the day of the Rogito, you will need the codice fiscale (the tax identification number that you can also obtain with the help of a real estate agent) and your passport or other valid proof of identity and, of course, the full availability of money .  We strongly suggest that on the day of the Rogito, you can avail of the services of an interpreter to translate for you everything that is said and written.
Once the Rogito is signed, the remaining amount of the agreed price is paid, along with expenses and the notary’s fees.  The notary will then see to registering the contract:  only when the acts are registered at the Office of the Public Property Register, the real estate will be finally yours. You now receive the keys and…. welcome to Italy!

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