Vademecum in English
Buying or selling property can be an overwhelming process. Fortunately, available to prospective homeowners, “The Guide to Buying and Selling Property in Italy” is a basic and informative guide that summarizes most of the legal and tax rules necessary to acquire, hold or sell property in Italy.
This guide was prepared by the FIAP, Sector Foreign Affairs. Unfortunately, this document, in some sections, particularly the tax is no longer valid. See the post about it on the new tax in 2014. For the English version is a brief summary can be read below. For Russian, French and German versions, a link will take you directly to the PDF document available on the website of FIAP.
The guide highlights that while it is still possible to buy or sell property without the assistance of a professional or real estate agent, it is wiser to invest in the help of one of those to make the process less difficult for you and secure your investment.
We remind you that ResRei is not a real estate agency but a real estate consultant focused on the Buyer’s needs. However, in our work, we work closely with real estate agents with the ultimate goal of enabling you to realize your project: a dream home in Sardinia.
When buying or selling property through a real estate agent, ensure that he or she is registered with an identification card issued by the Chamber of Commerce. The real estate agent will work with the buyer or seller to ensure that all forms and documents are properly filled. The commission due to the agency should be clearly stated in the documents and the buyer or seller should receive a copy of all signed documents.
Certain documents are necessary for a seller to be able to prove that the property they are selling is in fact sellable:
- The title deed or provenance must show that the seller has ownership of the property.
- The seller must also prove that the property complies with townplanning regulations and provide The Certificate of Habitability. If the property includes one or more plots of land with an area of over 5,000 square meters, the zoning certificate, which can be requested at the competent municipal office, must be attached to the deed of sale.
- The cadastral sheet, is simply a small scale reproduction of the plan of the property drawn up by a qualified expert and presented to the cadastral offices, which may be checked by means of a “title search” in which the data regarding the real estate unit (category, class, size, income) are given.
- For jointly-owned property, check for any planned repair, outstanding expenses, and construction limitations.
- The declaration of conformity is a document or rather a set of documents by which the
person who installs a system or installation (electric, heating, plumbing, radio/television,
etc.) declares and certifies that it has been done in a workmanlike manner.
- The energy certification is simply a certificate regarding how the building was built from the
perspective of insulation, and therefore in what way the building can help to save energy, attributing the building a certain energy class.
The next topic the guide discusses is the stages of purchase and/or sale. This section begins with negotiation, as this step plays a major part of the beginning of a sale. During negotiation, the price and method of payment, the deadlines for the delivery of the property, the stipulation of the deed of sale, the extraordinary expenses already decided upon, the buyer’s notification of the possible need to obtain a loan and the seller’s notification of any encumbrances on the property are all discussed.
After negotiation, the next step is to proceed with a purchase proposal. Since the proposal binds the buyer, but not yet the seller, it is critical for the buyer to review all property documents and analyze carefully all the clauses of the purchase proposal before signing it and make sure to note in the proposal if he or she will take out a loan for the purchase.
The buyer will usually provide a non-interest bearing deposit in the form of a check, made out to the seller, with the proposal. The seller will return the check if he or she does not accept the proposal. But if the proposal is accepted, the deposit will become a down payment for the property. Now, with the acceptance of the seller and the entering into the contract, the real estate agent has the right to receive the commission.
Once the proposal is accepted by the seller, it is time to draft the preliminary contract, which should include information such as the accurate identification of the parties, a precise description of the property to be sold, the agreed price, methods of payment, the date on which the parties intend to stipulate the notarial deed, the existence of any mortgages or other encumbrances, etc. A purchase proposal containing these characteristics is a preliminary contract provided that it is accepted with a written statement by the seller and the buyer knows about it. To ensure that the preliminary contract is formally complete and correct, it can be drawn up with the help of a professional, which could also be the notary who will handle the drawing up of the final deed of sale.
The registration of the preliminary contract and purchase proposal is done at the Revenue
Office and may be done by anyone, within 20 days from the notification of the seller’s
acceptance to the proposer for the purchase proposal, and within 20 days from its stipulation
for the preliminary contract. For both down payments and advance payments, the taxes paid with the preliminary contract will be deducted from the taxes to be paid for the registration of the final sale contract, with the exception of sales subject to VAT.
The next stage is the transcription of the preliminary contract, which is aimed at protecting the future buyer, especially in the case that the seller is a contractor, or a company that could go bankrupt, if a fairly long period of time will pass between the preliminary contract and the deed of sale or if the down payment is very large.
A very important figure in the process of buying or selling property is the notary, who is normally chosen by the buyer. The notary is charged with several responsibilities, such as checking the full ownership of the property, that it has no encumbrances, verifying the identity of the owners and of the property to be purchased, and checking on the correct planimetric identification and the correct classification of the property at the Registry Office. Once these checks and verifications are made, the notary drafts the deed of sale. The notary also provides consultation in order to solve any legal and tax problems encountered and handles the formalities subsequent to the deed, such as registration (for payment of taxes) and the transcription (to make the deed opposable to third parties).
It is possible to cancel the mortgage of a house if the buyer does not wish to take over the loan against which the mortgage had been registered. If cancelling the mortgage by means of the “Bersani method,” then it is necessary to make sure that the mortgage is “recorded as cancelled” at the Land Agency (Real Estate Advertising Service) on the day of the sale. It is also possible to cancel the mortgage by notarial deed, which guarantees the immediate effectiveness of the cancellation.
If a sale is to be done by a builder, the builder must provide a guarantee of “suretyship.”
The failure to provide the suretyship gives the buyer the right to declare the contract “null and void,” with the request for reimbursement of the moneys already paid, along with any compensation for damages. It is also the builder’s obligation to issue the buyer an insurance policy that, for at least ten years, protects the buyer against damages deriving from the total or partial ruin of the building or from serious flaws in the construction.
Regarding building construction, it is good to note that some companies are in agreement with local authorities to construct subsidized buildings that are then sold to people or organizations with special requisites, at prices set by the municipal offices.
An alternate form of purchasing real estate is through a cooperative, by membership or by purchasing the share of an outgoing member. It is always necessary to verify and evaluate the reliability of the cooperative beforehand.