PAUSA #3 – HOW CAN WE BUY YOU – LET US COUNT THE STEPS
(apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Our followers know that among the Lazio location lauds (such alliteration!) featured in our blogs, occasionally we get into the weeds with details of the Italian property buying process. We call them PAUSA #____.
Here is another one, PAUSA #3, featuring the research and document trail involved with seriously doing real estate in this wonderful country. I count 10 ways in Browning’s sonnett; here you will find only 4, but hey! There are a few deviations from what you are used to in your country, but mainly there are many more similarities. We have also done this while mixing in our TOTAL ASSISTANCE provided to our clients. (See Blog “How Can We Help You”)
When you arrive at this juncture in your Italian property purchase planning, you need to give a think to your eventual immigration status in Italy. As a foreigner from the USA, for example, you are free to purchase property, but, if you want to take advantage of much lower transaction fees and taxes, you need to register as a permanent resident. We can give you the correct advice for your particular situation, as well as provide the counseling of a professional to help you through the process. The important thing is to make the decision as to the nature of your residency; then we apply the appropriate guidelines to secure the proper registration. This can be a time-consuming activity so it is best to begin early.
With that in mind let’s have a look at the steps.
The first thing of course you need to do is search out and choose a property which totally fits your needs. For clients outside of Italy, in the computer age this first happens online. So you troll around on the myriad of Italian property sites, wish list in hand, trying to make sense of it all. Check out our blog “Your Property In Italy” for some help in sorting out your priorities.
Here’s a suggestion – find a few areas and properties which look good to you, contact the listing agent, and ask your questions. You will quickly find someone among them who seems helpful and interested in doing business, as well as having the English language capability to accomplish it. Then, develop the relationship, and let them propose the right properties for you.
Second thing, after you have chosen an area and some properties, you need to schedule a trip to Italy to scope out the choices in person. Here is where your agent can shine – (hopefully it’s us). We can schedule the timing of your whole trip; not only tour all of the identified properties, but also help with hotels, cars, language, and in general make your initial entry into the Italian real estate world a lot easier than you ever thought.
As you make your property tours, it is very important to have a list of technical questions ready about each one – questions about plumbing and electrical systems, property features as well as title information and building compliance. In addition, information about maintenance and operating costs, and vendor solvency. Lastly, and at this point, you make first inquiries about taxes, payment terms and costs of the transaction. AND, secure answers in writing. Phew! This is a lot of detail, but vitally necessary in Italy where such information is, shall we say, not always transparent. But, not to worry, we, as your agents, do all the leg work to secure the answers from the vendor and the municipality, certify them, and counsel with you on the results.
Third step in the process, after receiving written answers to technical questions, is to make an initial offer. This is usually called an Intent to Purchase (Proposta d’Acquisto), and is done through the real estate agent who writes up the preliminary terms. When you get to this point, you will need a financial identification number (codice fiscale) – we will go with you to the Agenzia delle Entrate to get one. It is not difficult, but it can be bewildering.
An initial deposit (caparra) accompanies this Intent, irrevocable for a certain period of time, and signals the buyer’s commitment to the transaction. Details in the Intent include contingencies incumbent on the seller (debts, titles, permits, etc) as well as a time-limited period of review. Other details part of the Intent are the proposed purchase price and proposed payment terms. We, as your agent, will guide you through this whole process. If an attorney is required to assist, we can furnish one for you.
The seller reviews the Intent within the time constraints, and if it is acceptable, accepts the proposal. With the signatures and the payment of the deposit (typically 10 to 30%), the Intent to Purchase becomes binding on both parties, and the agreed-on purchase price is settled. Additionally, the real estate agent’s fee is also due at this time, but most of the time this payment is made at the signing of the completion deed. (In USA known as the closing)
It is important to know that any negotiations about finances, price, requirements should take place before any document signing. We are here again to work with you and the seller to solve any issues and propose solutions.
This third step of the Intent to Purchase closely resembles the same step in property purchases in the USA.
Fourth step in the purchase process is the final title transfer. This is the step which bears a partial resemblance to its USA counterpart. It is here at the closing where the final title transfer takes place by a contract called in Italy a Title Deed, this signed in front of a Notary Public (notaio). His or her duties include witnessing the signing of the title deed (rogito), and registering the title transfer with the local public property registry (Ufficio dei Pubblici Registri Immobiliari).
(Here an aside) Just who is the Notaio? Contrary to the figure of the Notary Public in the USA, the Notaio is a private professional person who acts as a neutral government representative at property transfer procedures. The Notaio does what a US Title Company (in some states) or an attorney does in USA property transactions. Rest assured this neutral party is in charge of the transfer proceedings, identifying the parties, assuring all documents and claims are in conformance with law, and reading aloud the deed. It is precisely the Notaio’s neutrality and, in many cases, lack of English facility which determines our essential accompaniment and counseling of you, our client, at the signing meeting. This may be looked at the most essential TOTAL ASSISTANCE service we provide. (End of aside)
At the signing, the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price to the seller (bank draft, funds transfer, etc.). Third party claims can still be registered until the deed is officially registered, but if you have done your research and legal homework properly early in the process, this very rarely if ever happens.
Here we are again, as your trusty agents, to accompany you to the meeting (with translator and translated documents), and assist you through the process. Hold your hand, so to speak – at least lessen the unfamiliarity of the officials and the procedures.
After the contract signing meeting, the only thing left is to share a traditional prosecco and enjoy your new property.
OOPS, no – a couple more things to do at the start of your ownership. They include the niggling stuff like contracting the utilities, working out the necessary insurance coverage (beyond what is required by a mortgage), and perhaps finding a contractor to help with some remodeling, or how about an Italian drivers license.
We don’t abandon you after the signing over. Still at your side to help with all of the above. With Casa & Capital Investment, you have lifelong partners in your Italian adventure. Get in contact with us to begin.