The buying process in Italy:
Title to property in Italy is registered at the Registry of Immovables (Conservatoria dei Registri Immobiliari). It is also recorded at the Land Registry, (known locally as the ‘Catasto’), this however, being merely indicative of the boundaries of the asset and not proof of ownership.
Transfer of ownership is through publication of an ‘Atto di Compravendita’ (Deed of Sale) which must be drawn up and signed in the presence of a Notary Public. It is usually preceeded by a written offer or ‘Proposta di Acquisto’ followed, soon after official written acceptance, by a Preliminary Agreement or ‘Preliminare di Compravendita’, which is a template for the final deed of sale (rogito) and contains its key elements, that is, the identities of the vendors and the purchasers, a detailed description of the property to be sold, the agreed price and terms of payment, a time limit for completion and any other conditions agreed by both parties. As from 1st January, 2007, this must be registered and the relative tax paid; all are responsible jointly and severally liable if this is not done.
A deposit, usually about 10/15%, is paid at the signing of the preliminary agreement and the Italian Code of Civil Law defines the financial penalties if either party withdraws without just cause before completion: the buyer loses his deposit and the vendor is liable to pay the buyer double the deposit. Stamp duty and other taxes also apply and are usually borne by the buyer.
This is for illustration purposes only. Clients are strongly advised to consult their legal advisers for up-to-date information.