Buying a Property In Italy: The Big Picture

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Let’s face it: buying a property, in Italy or wherever in the world, is not always easy. There are so many aspects that must be taken into account, choices to be made, paperwork to be checked. We know it very well.

But the good news is that you are not alone, guys! Here at Lakeside we particularly love sitting at the table with clients and helping them understanding properly all that concerns the buying process in our country. We like to chat with them and discuss about the differences in each country regulations, too: it’s always a moment of enrichment for us.

At Lakeside we work hard to make the procedure the smoothest and the clearest for our clients. 

What we want you to know is that most of the hard work is somehow invisible to buyers, as it’s made by Lakeside as soon as a property takes part of our portfolio: checking of the Cadastral situation, verifying the building and urban license to avoid not compliant works, fixing what hasn’t been legally approved by the Authorities. We basically make sure that all the paperwork are in perfect order.

As licensed realtors we have a deep knowledge in Technical & Private Law: what we do is a detailed analysis of the property, which will be double checked again by the Notary at a later stage. In other words, we provide a full 360° screening at every single property we handle.

The first chat with the client

Understanding our client’s needs and the specific idea of property they have in mind is crucial for us: what we always avoid is to submerge clients with proposals of properties that are far from what they look for.

So we usually start every chat with our clients with pointed questions revolving around four basic topics:

  • Location

  • Typology of home

  • Specific requirements

  • Use of the property

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We keep saying that each village of Lake Como has a unique soul and identity, and we care a lot that every client can have the opportunity to get to know them properly. At Lakeside we are all locals, so you can ask us pretty much whatever you want about our area: services available in each village, number of inhabitants, and even fun facts or historical backgrounds!

Once sent a focus on a particular location(s), we dig a little bit further regarding where clients want their home to be set, i.e.:

  • Waterfront: it goes without saying that this the most premium position you can ever look for on Lake Como. Waterfront means you literally have nothing between your property and the lake. A pied-dans-l’eau house, in particular, has its foundations directly into the water.

  • Town/historical center, with all services and amenities at hand. Most of our historical centers are reachable only on foot: we always point out this aspect during the screening stage.

  • Hillside: by this label we generally mean the little hamlets (frazioni) of a Municipality. The peculiarity of our territory is indeed the fact that each village is made of multiple tiny districts all scattered over the hills surrounding the lake. Most of these districts are just a few minutes driving from the lake and from all the local services.

  • Mountain: we usually talk about mountain area as far as rustics deep in the nature are concerned (i.e. reachable only on foot, often walking through the woodland!). This is the ideal location for “into the wild” souls!

Typology of home

What type of home best suits your needs? Think carefully about your tastes and personal situation when deciding whether to buy a house or a flat, a brand new construction or a rustico that needs a full structural renovation.

Did you know that on our website you can make a customized research based on your lifestyle and personal tastes? Either you are a fan of period houses or you are obsessed with contemporary masterpieces, you can look for everything. Have a look!

Specific requirements

When it comes to this point, we usually make a little interview to our clients, asking a roundup of specific questions about how their ideal home should look like:

  • Number of bedrooms

  • Garden

  • Terrace, balcony, patio

  • Pool

  • Lake view

  • Garage

  • Cellar

  • Taverna

  • Fireplace

  • Layout laid on one level or multiple ones, walking distance to all services, privacy etc.

  • Willingness to renovate (structural renovation or just light cosmetic update)

  • Maximum budget including all the purchase-related costs

Investment or personal use?

The properties to be put on the weekly rental market, indeed, must have specific features in order for them to be competitive, i.e:

  • 2+ beds

  • Located at a short stroll from all services

  • Excellent lake view

The three steps of the buying process

how to buy a property in Italy

To make it easier, we have summed up for you the three key steps of each sale procedure: Offer, Preliminary Agreement and Notary contract.

Ready? Buckle up!

1 - The offer

The buyer makes an offer to the seller: we like the idea to ease things for our clients, so we usually suggest to start with a verbal offer. This way clients don’t waste their time and strive in long written contracts, which might result useless if the price offered is not accepted by the seller.

Once the offer is accepted, we collect all the documents related to the property. The most important ones are:

  • Titles documents

  • Floor plans and land maps

  • Energy certification

Buyers can choose to have a technical survey at their own expense. Remember that is not a mandatory document in Italy, and it’s never required by the Notary; however, many buyers prefer to have it to be sure about the general condition of the house. Any registered surveyor, architect or engineer can do the survey.

What we usually suggest our clients to do when it comes to old properties, is to condition their offer to the good output of the technical survey. This means that if the survey highlights some substantial and particularly expensive structural issues, the client can withdraw the offer. The amount paid as a deposit is returned to the client without any penalty. 

2 - The Preliminary Agreement

The Preliminary Agreement Contract (Compromesso), following the offer stage, is a document that clearly defines the whole transaction. 

In this contract we deeply focus on all the most important points: the buyer’s details, the seller’s ones, the property price, the Cadastral references, maps, building licenses, the final date for the Notary contract, the deposit and purchasing conditions… in a word, EVERYTHING! 

Once the contract is signed by both parties, the buyer can send a deposit (generally up to the 10% of the price) directly to the seller’s bank account: we know that this is not common abroad. Don’t worry, nobody forces you to do that: we understand that it’s not a matter of lack of trust. A easier solution is to keep the deposit safe into a special Notary Bank Account.

Normally, a further deposit is paid if the date of the Notary contract is postponed due to: a) works in progress in case of new constructions, or b) long period of times passing between the Preliminary Agreement Contract and the final Notary contract (i.e. more than 3/4 months). Consider that this step can be skipped if the property is ready for occupation and the time between offer/acceptance and the Notary Deed is normally less than 2 months.

The Preliminary Agreement must be registered at the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue Agency) to be an official contract; it can be signed from abroad and sent by email, but two original copies with original signatures will have to be sent by ordinary mail to complete the registration process.

3 - The Notary Deed

In Italy, the buyer pays the Notary and has the freedom to decide which one involving for the contract. 

An important thing you foreigner buyers must know is that in Italy the Notary is the highest public figure: he’s responsible for all parties and he’s legally liable for all documents being checked. That’s why clients and buyers don’t need to necessarily have a lawyer.

The day of the final contract, the buyer must complete all the payments: to the owner of the house, to the Notary and to the Agency.

A translator is normally involved in this process for the entire document or for the Power of Attorney (Procura). If clients can’t attend the Deed, they can apply for a Procura at the closest Italian consulate of their hometown.

All documents are signed by both parties: the buyer finally gets the keys and becomes the new legal owner of the property!

Lakeside Real Estate