The importance of obtaining legal advice
It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of obtaining independent legal advice before buying property. Without this you shouldn’t even consider to purchase your dream house.
The vast majority of people who buy a home in Italy don’t obtain independent legal advice and most of those who experience problems take no precautions. Of those who do take legal advice, many do so only after having paid a deposit and signed a contract or, more commonly, after they have run into problems.
Large sum of money is at stake
It is important not to sign anything or pay any money, until you’ve sought legal advice in a language in which you’re fluent, from a lawyer who’s experienced in Italian property law.
You will find that the relatively small cost of obtaining legal advice to be excellent value. Trying to cut corners to save a few euros on legal costs is not recommended when a large sum of money is at stake.
Your lawyer will carry out the necessary searches regarding ownership, debts and rights of way. He or she should also check that the notary does his job correctly, thereby providing an extra safeguard. It isn’t wise to use the vendor’s lawyer, even if this would save you money, as he’s primarily concerned with protecting the interests of the vendor and not the buyer.
Important to check
Enquiries must be made to ensure that the vendor has a registered title and that there are no debts against a property. It’s also important to check that a property has the relevant building licenses, conforms to local planning conditions and that any changes (alterations, additions or renovations) have been approved by the local town hall and have planning permission. If a property is owned by several members of a family, which is common in Italy, all owners must give their consent before it can be sold.
Compare the fees
Before hiring a lawyer, compare the fees charged by a number of practices and obtain quotations in writing. Always check what’s included in the fee and whether it’s full or just an estimate. A lawyer’s fees may be calculated as an hourly rate or as a percentage of the purchase price of a property. You could employ a lawyer just to check the preliminary contract before signing it to ensure that it’s correct and includes everything necessary, particularly regarding conditional clauses.