Buying a property in Italy

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Buying a property in Italy

Post by modicasa on Mon May 27, 2013 3:22 pm

First topic message reminder :

It sounds simple. It isnt. Since 2007 the amount of paperwork involved in buying and selling has grown exponentially, so it really is a good idea to use a proper, registered, listed estate agent when you're buying. Of course, there will be those who are useless, but at least they will have a grasp of what is required. The basics are these:
You see a house you like, and want to put in an offer. The first thing to decide is when you want to complete the sale, as this bears heavily on your next steps. If you want to sign the final act asap, then make a written offer, a formal 'proposta di acquisto' and propose you go straight to the 'rogito' or final act. The proposta requires a small returnable deposit - usually one or two thousand euros, that will take the house off the market and allow you prepare for the notary's act of sale. IF it's going to be more than a month, you should think about doing a formal preliminary or compromesso which is, to all effects and purposes, the legal contract. If you back out after the preliminary you will lose all your deposit (around 20/30% of the agreed price), and if the seller backs out - he has to (usually) give you double back. The compromesso is full of clauses, but the legal minimum includes - the price, what is being sold and when the final act of sale will be. Then you sit back, look at possible bathroom tiles and wait until the due date falls. By the time of the rogito the seller/agent will have got all the necessary paperwork together and you will all meet up at the notary's office to sit round an expensive table while the notary reads the act of sale. If you dont speak Italian you must have a translator or the act is null and void. The notary should explain the ins and outs of the sale and ask you if you understand what's going on. You will be expected to pay the balance to the vendor, pay the notary and pay all the purchase taxes on the deal. You will also have to pay the agent - though some agents demand their commission at compromesso as they legally have the right to, even though morally its a bit dubious. The agent must be cited in the act of sale, along with how much you have paid them. Alot of agents, illegal agents and blokes who have a brother who has a house, won't want to appear in the act of sale - but it's illegal not to be there, and if they're not you, as a buyer, have no legal redress if the property you buy isnt as advertised. The law will say they never existed.
It sounds scary, but its isn't, keep your head and don't go all - well we're in Italy so Ill throw caution to the winds - silly. So, if you see a house on your first day and the agent asks you to sign something - don't. At least, not until you know what you're signing.
You will need a codice fiscale (tax number) an Italian bank account, and a Berlitz vocabulary book of useful household terms like gutter, backboiler, grommit and flange.
At the moment, apart from the Gran Canal in Venice, its a buyers market - dont be pushed into making decisions, time is on your side. Any questions?

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by ourtoscana on Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:58 am

I disagree Admin ....from a pre-emption rights perspective, it is not that clearcut. In fact there have been hundreds of rulings over the years (since the introduction of law 590 from 1965) to define and apply the concept of "abituale coltivazione". For example, the supreme court ruling n° 2019 of January 2011 states that the person can have a main occupation and does not need to be professionally registered as a farmer to apply his/her pre-emption rights!!! Have a look at the motivation of the ruling:

http://www.mondodiritto.it/giurisprudenza/corte-di-cassazione/diritto-civile-interpretazione-del-concetto-di-coltivatore-diretto-ai-fini-del-riscatto-del-fondo-agricolo-cass-civ-27-gennaio-2011-n-2019.html

This subject is a real minefield and should be treated with extreme caution!

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:48 am

I don't think we need to disagree. I didn't say they had to be a Coltivatore Diretto to claim pre-emption rights. I said that a Coltivatore Diretto was a very clearly defined status that is not ambiguous. I also said that being a CD would allow you to exercise your prelazione rights but other people can do so too and gave a couple of examples but there are other circumstances when a person can exercise the right.

Our notary did not feel it was unclear (as far as the law can ever be clear) and like I say I can only quote my own and my friend's experience (where I was the translator) and the whole process was very clear cut.

The safest route is obviously to notify all neighbours in writing of the purchase/sale or ensure it is done, assuming that is actually possible - which in my case it wasn't.

I vaguely remember from when I first moved here that there used to be some procedure where you could post a notice on the land for 60 days if the neighbours could not be traced but I have never seen anything written to back that up.
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by ourtoscana on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:06 am

I disagreed with the misleading idea that to have pre-emption rights means that you need to be registered farmer which is an easy definition to handle as it is clearcut.

Most people reading simply won't take on board the many subtleties and the many interpretations of Italian law.

As you say, once all neighbouring parties are formally notified with a proper paper trail then things really get watertight.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Flip on Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:19 pm

Well you lost me about 6 posts back....Question
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by modicasa on Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:00 am

OUrtoscana - Im afraid you are not right.  Preemption is only for coltivatore diretti, azienda agricole and  impreditori agricoli.  That is all.  I suggest you read the laws pertaining to prelazione.   The forestale or water board etc may also have a right of preemption, and may need to be notified - otherwise nobody can take your land from under you.  

You say that notaries dont want to get involved.  Its not their job.  It is the sellers' obligation not the notaries, but the notary should ask the relevant questions.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by ourtoscana on Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:36 am

Modicasa did you read the supreme court ruling that I posted yesterday. It speaks for itself and represents one of the hundreds of rulings which interprets law 590 from 1965.  It's not about me being right or wrong ... that's totally irrelevant. 

If we follow the definition you just gave us, you're saying that you wouldn't notify a neighbouring school teacher that spends lots of his/her time working the land? The s.c. ruling intreprets this person as have pre-emption rights!

So on one hand you are right when you list the various figures with pre-emption rights, but what I am saying is how do you define and identify such figures?

If a notary follows up on such matters they generally get engaged to do with a surcharge on their professional fee, run checks to identify the neighbours and send out recorded letters to all. Otherwise they will simply get the vendor to declare that there are no pre-emption rights associated with the parcels sold.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:26 am

And wouldn't you think that to pay your notary for doing all those checkings would be a worthy investment? As you rightly say, it is a professional fee. If he/she has to do the extra work, he/she is entitled to that. The DIY way can be costly, particularly in a foreign country where the person does not know (let alone interpret) all the intricacies of the law.
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by modicasa on Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:48 am

You're right, I wouldnt notify a school teacher because they have no right to prelazione.  Nor does a retired postman, nor does a univeristy professor who owns 20 hectares.  This is how it works.  The law from 1965 has been modified since then - meaning that now retired people cannot excerise the right of prelazione, nor can those who are not involved in agriculture.  How do you define such figures - they are those categories.    The notary will not do the prelazione - its not his job.  If you want to err on the side of cautino and send letters to all and sundry that is your choice as a seller.  But the law is clear on who has the right to prelazione.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by ourtoscana on Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:12 pm

I'm afraid that you'd be making a huge mistake Modicasa and yes most laws have modifications and integrations in Italy.

Perhaps you can provide us with some reference to support your very "clearcut" case.

Here's one of the many articles and documents on the matter from sole 24ore which reiterates my point (and that of a supreme court judge!!)

http://www.agricoltura24.com/articoli/0,1254,54_CRD_0_3665,00.html

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what about renting to beat prelazione?

Post by Sagraiasolar on Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:38 am

I have a house with perfect surrounding land of 12ha to make it a desirable property. I know my farming neighbour would want any parcels of land adjoining his if we sold and thus devalue the property considerably. He already scooped half the original land when we bought so some of his land adjoining was ours 12 years ago. I wonder if we could prevent the break up of a well proportioned property by just selling the house and renting the rest to the new buyer or would that have attendant cans of worms?
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:55 am

Perhaps this is a crazy idea, but I think that it is possible for neighbouring farmers to exercise "prelazione" because most properties are made of several parcels or "particelle" and then they can pick and choose.  On the other hand, would it be possible to amalgamate all those bits and pieces into a single property or block of land that has no subdivision. Certainly, this would cost money as the Land Registry entries and property titles will have to be modified, but it should prevent "prelazione" unless the neighbouring farmer is prepared to buy the whole property, including the house. Perhaps somebody with better knowledge of property law could comment.
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Admin on Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:31 pm

Sagraisolar having a rental contract would only work if the buyer had been coltivating land for the last two years and as all rental contracts have to be registered you couldn't fudge it. The whole parcel/many parcels suggestion would not make any difference if you were selling the whole lot as the person exercising the prelazione rights has to buy all of it and can't pick and choose which parcels he wants.  The easiest way to discourage people is to set the price for the land high enough. However as land attracts a purchase tax of 18% it might put the buyer off too! Although he ciuld alwsys form a 'società agricola' and buy it in tge name of the societå in which case there are lots of ways to save on purchase tax.
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by modicasa on Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:01 am

Prelaione is on an all or nothing basis.   If you offer a house and 100 hectares for sale, the neighbour with the right of prelazione can buy it all or none of it, but cannot choose the 2000mq that he fancies.   

I still maintain despite some of the above that prelazione is relatively simple, clear cut and easy to avoid.   If you have any doubts - send the letter to the owner.  Its the cost of a stamp.  But who has and who has not the right to prelazione is laid out in law and the CC.   I have done literally hundreds of cases of prelazione and never had any problems following the notaio's advice, good sense and erring on the side of caution.   There are horror stories, but it is a fact of life that there are people on the web who tend to scaremonger and frighten people into paying out large sums of money for services that are unnecessary or covered by the work of other professionals (usually for a much smaller sum of money).  Prelazione is not difficult, people should not be scared into thinking that someone will come along and 'steal' your land - and ultimately it is the sellersì responsibility.  Any seller is not going to leave himself open to restitute the purchase price, plus any money spent in the meantime because he didnt shove a letter in the postbox.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by ourtoscana on Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:24 pm

I remember reading an article a couple of years back that asked a very similar question on il Sole 24ore. The answer is very long winded, however in essence they say that yes the neighbouring farmer can select and buy specific parcels (at the same price and conditions) but this cannot unfairly diminish value from the farm as a whole (compendio).

http://www.agricoltura24.com/articoli/0,1254,54_CRD_0_2611,00.html

Modicasa, I agree with your observation on professionals charging large sums of money for a very routine task that simply needs to follow a template.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:48 am

No more thoughts on amalgamation to avoid "prelazione"? Perhaps this would be in the same line of what ourtoscana quotes.
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by threaset on Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:47 pm

how to hire a translator and trusted real estate agency when buying a property. I am living in America, and I found a house to buy from one of the agent. I am not sure if it is trusted agent. I want everything to be legal. How long it takes to purchase the property.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by ghiro on Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:07 pm

Hi threaset - and welcome.  Which area/province are you thinking of buying in?  People on the forum here who live there might know your estate agent.

Oh, and buying a house in Italy usually takes a lot longer than you expect! Shocked
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:32 pm

Welcome threaset! If you have a look at the first post in this thread, you will find lots of useful information. Modicasa knows what he is talking about. He mentions "licensed" agents and also agents who may not hold all necessary permits and will not be able to appear before the notary. You ask about "trusted" agents and this is a category that is difficult to identify. I am not saying that it does not exist; however, you will have to rely on recommendations, which some members may be able to provide if they know the area where you intend to buy. Same case with translators. Depending on the type of property and its legal situation, you may need a lawyer to give advice and to check documents on your behalf.
On the other hand, I do not totally agree with ghiro's comment on the length of time needed to complete the operation. If all documents are in order, a purchase operation can be pretty straightforward and fast. 

In any case, here we are. Ask all the questions you wish to ask and we may be able to provide some answers. Good luck!
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:18 pm

Welcome "threaset", take the advice above and advise what area you are looking to buy....

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by threaset on Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:14 am

Thanks for your advice.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Vicino on Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:47 am

Welcome threaset, buying a property in any country, your own or another can be fraught with difficulty. As you would anywhere else, try to do your homework, ask advice (as you are doing here ) and just get everything in writing.

When I arrived here some years ago, I often said 'what on earth are we doing'. But, a friend told me that there can also be a lot of scaremongering..............ooh it's really difficult.............the troubles that we came across............. etc etc. 'but I got through it all !'

There are LOTS of stranieri here in Italy, there are not that many REAL horror stories.

Good luck in your venture,

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by threaset on Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:06 am

It is better to live in Italy, or at least staying their for few months, and then purchase a property. It does not work to have a month vacation in Italy, and during this time decide to purchase the property.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by modicasa on Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:29 am

HOrses for courses.  I know people who have bought a house on a long weekend and are happier than ever.  It depends on why you are buying.

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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:39 am

In general, it is better to rent for a while before you buy. This will allow you to have a good look at the area and check whether it is just what you wanted, or you have second thoughts. In particular, because you seem to move to Italy and you may not have lived there before. Another piece of advice. It looks as if you may need a translator/interpreter to help you with the purchase. Try to improve your Italian as a priority. You will need it everyday if you intend to live in the countr

I should add that modicasa is right. Every case is different. I am only generalizing.
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Re: Buying a property in Italy

Post by Vicino on Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:22 am

We came over and rented, thinking that after six months we will have either found all the bad stuff (and the good stuff !), and will be a little tiny bit more knowledgeable about the area.

We ended up buying within 4 months and in general have been VERY happy with that decision !

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