Buying an Italian Property: 10 Key Legal Tips From Italian Real Estate Lawyer Nick Metta
- In Italy, each property has a list price and a "sale" price. The list price will of course gladly be accepted, but the sale price is the one the vendor is actually expecting to get. Italians go into a property purchase knowing this difference, as an inflated price is typical in order to embed negotiation room into the deal. As a buyer, you should always start by offering lower than list price and expect to negotiate from there.
- Ask whether the property has a habitability certificate. If not, this gives you leverage to negotiate a substantial price reduction as the certificate is required by law to be provided by the vendor.
- Ask whether the vendor recently did any renovation work. If so, a recent law allows income tax benefits to be transferred to the buyer – but only if this is mentioned in the agreement of sale.
- Check whether the vendor has a mortgage on the property. If so, as the buyer, you could take over the mortgage under the existing terms saving substantial money on a new mortgage process. Furthermore, with the banks tightening up on mortgages, this could mean the difference between getting a mortgage or not.
- Italian notary publics are highly skilled legal professionals who act as a neutral player in real estate transactions. The notary public meets the parties for the first time at the very final moment to sign the title transfer deed. The notary will typically transfer the title by means of a standard purchase structure that fits the needs of average buyers. It is important to know that there are variations to this standard structure that could often benefit a foreign buyer. Be sure to communicate your particular situation and estate plans to the notary so the ownership structure that best fits your needs can be adopted. To work out the details it is important to do this prior to the final completion meeting.
- Italian real estate intermediaries typically act as dual agents, representing both the buyer and the vendor. Also, their fee is due as soon as the offer is accepted, even if the sale does not go through. It is possible to negotiate terms in advance, for instance, that the intermediary fee is due only if the transaction is completed. To obtain a safe deal that is best for your situation it is advisable to have your own independent expert working exclusively in your best interest, such as an experienced English speaking Italian lawyer.
- In Italy the vendor (even a developer) is entitled to spend the deposit as soon as the buyer pays it. Ask for confirmation that the 20-year history of the title has been duly verified prior to giving any deposit to the vendor.
- Transfer taxes vary from property to property. The buyer pays 100% of the transfer taxers. Request an accurate estimate of applicable taxes for your specific transaction and factor that amount into your budget.
- Several tax reductions might apply depending on the case circumstances. For instance, if the buyer does not live in Italy but has (or is entitled to claim) Italian nationality, there is the opportunity to unconditionally save 70% on transfer taxes.
- Remember to file and receive your Italian tax number (codice fiscale) by completion as it is required to purchase Italian real estate. Apply for free at any Italian tax office, through the consular office, or through a representative in Italy.
, partner of Italian law firm Studio Legale Metta
, opened an international real estate department in 2004 to advise non-Italian clients on property purchase
and estate planning
matters. The Firm, founded by Nick's great-grandfather in 1887, works with its clients to develop a personalized strategy based on their specific goals. With a personal experience of over a thousand international property transactions, Nick expertly guides his team
through every step of the process, ensuring optimal results for his clients.
For further information on the legal aspects of Italian real estate, guides to purchase and sale of Italian property, real estate taxation, and more, please visit the real estate section of our website.
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A few testimonials from the Firm's international clients:
"It has been a pleasure working with you. I do hope we will have the opportunity to work together again in the not too distant future. It is certainly a relief for both myself and my sister that we can finally close this file."
G.S., Westmount, Quebec, Canada (7 December 2016)
"My father passed away unexpectedly while he was living in Italy (the Imperia area/ Liguria). He owned his home, two cars, had bank accounts, etc., He also had a few outstanding debts that needed to be resolved. My brother and I live in the US and don’t speak fluent Italian much less know anything about the laws. We were receiving advice from friends in the town my father lived in, but no one could clearly communicate and answer our questions in English.
Luckily, a google search led me to Nick Metta and Studio Legale Metta. Nick is very knowledgeable of Italian inheritance laws, answered all of my questions and we worked with his associate physically located in Italy. They negotiated settlements for my father’s debts (with individuals and with the state), handled the sale of the property and disposal of the vehicles, arranged for the utility payments and turn off, and even successfully resolved a dispute between my brother and I. They were invaluable. I was at a point of simply walking away from everything my father had built because I didn’t know what to do to sell/manage it; Nick made it possible to leave my father’s estate in good hands. I’ll always be grateful for his help."
L.T, Plymuth, MI, USA (16 November 2016)
"Your firm has been professional to the highest level in all your work on my behalf. The final payout was no exception: I received it right away. Thank you all so much for all you have done for me and my family."
L.Z., Indiana, USA (17 November 2016)
"Thank you Dario, Nick and the rest of legal staff. A job well done. If in the future I need legal service, I definitely would consider Studio Legale Metta."
T.B., Brick, New Jersey, USA. (11 November 2016)
"I would like to personally thank you for all of your professional services and assistance provided. I will certainly call upon your team for any future assistance which could be necessary and will also recommend your services with the highest regard."
S.S., Freeport, Florida (10 October 2016)
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