Purchase of real estate, house or apartment in Italy

The biggest challenges when buying real estate, a house or an apartment in Italy

When buying real estate, a house or an apartment in Italy, the biggest challenge is finding the right property and choosing the right advisers.

You typically need three advisors if you want to be on the safe side when acquiring real estate in Italy:

  • A real estate agent
  • A construction expert – preferably an architect or surveyor (geometra)
  • An Italian-speaking lawyer.
  • It is worth the time and effort to get to know these three actors when buying real estate. Lack of knowledge of the individual rules and lack of precautions can lead to either not having bought the property at all. There is also the risk of being involved in endless lawsuits in Italy.
Trade not valid without a notary

In addition to the three advisers mentioned, you should be aware that the transfer of real estate, house or apartment in Italy requires a notary to draw up a deed. In other words: A simple written agreement that the two parties sign does not transfer the real estate. No trade without a notary!

The estate agent

In Italy, as in Denmark, you can only call yourself a real estate agent if you have an education, have passed a state exam. You must also be registered with the local chamber of commerce as an authorized broker.

Only authorized real estate agents can deal with real estate and can claim a fee!

It is a requirement that authorized real estate agents must be insured.

It must appear on the estate agent’s letterhead that the person in question is an authorized agent – Agente immobilare autorizzato – it says in Italian.

The lawyer

It is necessary to find a lawyer who speaks Italian., The legal language is Italian and all legal documents are in Italian.

It is important to know how the Italian legal system works, and it is not enough to know the Danish legal system.

Buying real estate, a house or an apartment in Italy takes place in a different way than in Denmark. You need to know the applicable legal rules in Italy to be able to guide the buyers correctly.

The lawyer reviews all documents and makes sure that the property is owned by the seller and that there are no mortgages or other rights resting on the property.

REMEMBER that a real estate agent is the “seller’s” man and only has an interest in selling the property as quickly as possible at the best possible price, while the lawyer takes care of the buyer’s interests.

The estate agent and the lawyer therefore have two different roles and cannot replace each other.

Beware of the unqualified “Helpers”

As a foreigner, you run the risk of meeting a group of people who, of course, do not call themselves brokers or lawyers, but who nevertheless offer to “help” in various ways with the purchase of real estate.

The help can consist of translation of documents, review of the property with a view to ascertaining whether the property suffers from faults and defects, repairs and restoration of the property, application to authorities, (unqualified) legal assistance and contact with authorities, including banks.

What these people have in common is that they do not possess any qualifications, except possibly experience, which is usually limited. My advice is to avoid getting involved with these people, no matter how nice and helpful they are.

They typically advertise that they are cheaper than a trained adviser – broker, architect, lawyer – but end up demanding an amount for their help. Before you say “yes, thank you” to the offer to save a few thousand kroner, it is worth assessing whether it is worth the price to save a little money and take a big risk, as described for example. here:

Recently, a new group of unqualified helpers has appeared. These are typically Danes living in Italy or foreign companies selling properties in Italy.

These people/companies advertise with the following motto: “Buy holiday property in Italy IN DANISH! Go safely and securely through all purchase phases in Italy with documents in DANISH and with the guarantees that DANISH law gives you. You have the option of filing a lawsuit in Denmark if something goes wrong!”

Many feel reassured by this “guarantee” and happily say “Yes, thank you” to the offer. But just remember the following

Main rules when buying real estate, house or apartment in Italy:
  • When the property is located in Italy, the purchase must take place according to Italian law. If you buy according to the Danish rules on purchase, the property is NOT transferred.
  • Danish law, including the Purchase Act, does not apply in Italy. A Danish purchase agreement therefore does not apply in Italy.
  • The legal language in Italy is Italian. That is that all documents must be translated into Italian and that in the event of doubt about the interpretation of an agreement, the Italian text shall prevail. (An exception is documents drawn up in South Tyrol, which is bilingual: Italian and German and in Vallé d’Aoste, which is also bilingual: Italian and French)
  • It is possible that the purchase agreement contains a clause that the company that sold the property can be sued in Denmark, but this clause is not worth much.
  • A case regarding e.g. errors and omissions in real estate often include translation of several Italian documents, including Italian laws and regulations, inspection and assessment of the property in Italy and examination of Italian legislation, which is unknown to a Danish judge.
  • Carrying out a case of this kind in Denmark will be so difficult and costly that it will not be worth the price.
  • Often the seller/advisors are not insured, and it will therefore be impossible to get compensation paid.
Unfortunate examples when buying real estate, house or apartment in Italy

A Danish-registered company invests in a project in Southern Italy.

According to the project, 20 bungalows will be built with direct access to the beach.

A swimming pool and tennis courts as well as green areas are to be built.

The purchase agreement is in Danish and refers to the Danish Purchase Act.

The purchase agreement describes all the rights that the buyers get when buying a house in Italy. The project shows how the finished project should look.

Shortly after the purchase, it turns out that there are several deficiencies in the houses, namely:

  • the swimming pool, the tennis court and the green areas cannot be built,
  • the land where the pool was to be located belongs to the Danish company,
  • access to the beach is not direct, but goes through a plot belonging to a hotel, which requires payment upon passage,

The buyers would like to file a lawsuit against the company, but it has since gone bankrupt.

Therefore, they turn to the local authorities and file a case.

However, they are told that the purchase agreement does not apply because it refers to Danish legislation, which does not apply in Italy.

The buyers are now trying to sell, but no one will buy a property that is defective.

The buyers can only sell at a large loss.

There are even more glaring cases where the “helper” has offered to pay the seller, the notary, the craftsmen etc

The purchase price and other amounts had to be deposited into the “helper’s” account with the regrettable result that the money has evaporated.

The buyers are then directed to contact the police, who in most cases can do nothing.

These are just a few examples that show where buying a house in Italy can go wrong. That is why you must turn to professionals when buying real estate in Italy.

Click here to get in touch with Sandra Moll Dirscherl .

See also an article about buying real estate in Italian here.