What are the steps for buying a property in Italy?

Buying a property in Italy proceeds through three key steps:

  • Irrevocable offer to purchase (Offerta di prenotazione)
  • Preliminary contract of sale(Contratto preliminare)
  • Deed of sale (Atto di vendita)

> Irrevocable proposal to purchase. Once you have chosen the property, you should seek the services of a lawyer. The first document you need to sign is called an irrevocable offer to purchase (Proposta irrevocabile d’acquisto). By signing, you have the property removed from the market for a period, normally 15 days. During this time the solicitor will carry out all investigations to ensure that the property is free from debts, mortgages, or other unpleasant surprises. A small deposit is required at this stage.

> Preliminary contract of sale. Should the purchase be finalised, this deposit will be considered as partial payment of the purchase price. If the seller does not formally accept the offer, the deposit will be returned. At this point, the buyer and the seller will formalise their agreement with the “preliminary contract of sale” (contratto preliminare), a legal document setting out the detailed terms and conditions of the sale.

> Deed of sale. The final stage of the purchase is the so-called “deed of sale”. The deed is drawn up by the notary in his office and must fully comply with the preliminary contract. Italian law provides that the deed of sale must be drawn up in Italian and in English if one of the parties does not understand Italian. If the buyer(s) cannot be present to sign the deed in front of the notary, the buyer(s) may give power of attorney to their lawyer who will sign the deed on their behalf.


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