15 Nov Why you need more than a real estate agent when buying in Italy
Most professionals agree, buying residential property in Italy is quite complex, and it’s a relatively expensive process compared to other countries around the world.
However, perhaps surprisingly, there are plenty of people ready to tell you that it’s not! This would probably include real estate agents.
The engagement and support of a real estate agent in Italy is surely useful when buying a property in Italy, and especially to manage communications with the selling party. However it’s a common mistake to contact an agent in Italy and assume incorrectly that the agent fulfils the same role as an agent in your home country.
By law, an estate agent must be registered with the local chamber of commerce in Italy (camera di commercio) and hold a certificate issued by the local municipality (comune) as proof of registration. Also, an agent should be registered with the federation of mediators and agents (FIMAA), the Italian association of estate agents (AICI), or the federation of professional estate agents (FIAIP). You should always check that your agent is duly qualified.
In Italy, you as the buyer will have to pay the Real Estate agent a commission that can vary between 3-5% of the purchase price + VAT (22% of the agent’s commission fee). A commission will usually also be charged to the seller of the property, for the agent’s work in first listing and marketing the property. The agent’s commission usually is requested to be paid upon signing of the preliminary sales contract or the initial proposta, and not upon the completion of the transaction.
However the payment timing is negotiable, and your individual agreement with the agent can allow for payment only when the transaction is complete. Doing so will encourage the agent to be present and working to help you in communicating with the seller, in case it’s needed, right up until the moment of completion of the transaction.
Aside from the Italian agent’s licensing and their commission fees, it is important to understand their role and how it may be different to your experience about agent’s roles and responsibilities in your own country of birth.
The Italian Real Estate agent is intended to be a mediator who operates locally, and who is expected under Italian law to help both parties find a viable economic agreement. In practice, as you may realise, this may be difficult to achieve considering most agents are listing properties on behalf of families who are selling their property, with the agent’s assistance.
Why you need more
Without specialist help such as someone who can advise you about the Italian culture when it comes to buying and selling property, and who knows well how Italy’s fiscal, legal and administrative systems operate, you may quickly find yourself out of your depth.
Most non-Italians need to know more about taxes in Italy, how they apply to the purchase depending upon your residency plans and your purchase structure. This detail requires attention to avoid either paying too much tax or creating issues with the tax authorities later based upon what you have declared to the notary at the time of purchase. Independent advice here is recommended.
You may also want to know how Italy’s income tax system may affect your own tax situation and plans for moving to Italy to work temporarily or permanently, or to retire. You also may need to understand Italy’s visa and residency rules, in order to access your property during the year as much as you would like without breaking any immigration regulations.
Let’s turn to safeguarding your interests as the buyer, and why you need to think carefully about the technical and legal aspects of your purchase.
Property due diligence
The property due diligence processes in Italy need to be taken seriously. Italy has alot of property in need of updating. Your research should include not only a survey or home inspection (which can be done by independent sources or persons referred to you by the selling agent) but also checking adherence to local and national building codes, checking registered land title and mapping information, and reviewing adherence to all previously requested and approved building permits.
There are also legal and administrative due diligence processes, that need to be taken into account.
According to Italian law (specifically Article 1176 of the Italian Civil Code), Italian real estate agents are not required to carry out any technical or legal search processes (due diligence) related to the property, nor are they considered qualified to do so.
This lack of due diligence could clearly affect you as a buyer arriving to view property, and could not only impact whether you are appropriately informed when you negotiate, but also affect your potential future resale of the property as well.
Essentially, everything related to the due diligence of Italian real estate purchases should be handled by independent technicians and professionals, to avoid the potential conflicts and pitfalls.
Buying property in Italy can be quite difficult, and we’re convinced there is a need for an experienced buyer advisor who understands the selling culture and the relevant legal processes and due diligence procedures. It’s essential they act only in your interest.
The team at D&G Property Advice specialises in the area of coordinating, managing and advising or coaching about the purchase process. We’ve helped countless expats realize their dream of owning property in Italy by focusing solely upon the buyer’s interest, your interest, and ensuring that you don’t fall victim to the unintended consequences of buying property without undertaking the appropriate due diligence.
Feel free to get in contact for more specific information.