Completion or signing of the final deed is drawn up by a notary and is usually takes place six to eight weeks after signing the preliminary contract. It involves the signing of the deed of sale, transferring legal ownership of the property and paying the balance of the purchase price, plus other necessary payments.
Dealing with notary
When the documents concerning a purchase have been returned to the notary, he will contact you and request the balance of the purchase price and, if applicable, the amount of a mortgage. He will also give you a bill for his fees and state taxes, which must be paid on completion.
Before signing the deed of sale, it’s vital to check that the property hasn’t been damaged in any way. If you’ve employed a lawyer or are buying through an agent, he should accompany you on this visit. You should also take an inventory immediately before completion to ensure that the vendor hasn’t absconded with anything that was included in the price or purchased separately, e.g. carpets, light fittings, curtains or kitchen appliances, and that they’re in good working order where applicable.
If you find that anything is missing, damaged or isn’t in working order, you should make a note and insist on immediate restitution such as an appropriate reduction in the amount to be paid. In such cases it’s normal for the notary to withhold an appropriate amount in escrow from the vendor’s proceeds to pay for repairs or replacements.
The deed of sale includes a declaration of the price paid by the buyer. In Italy, it’s customary for the declared price to be less that the actual price paid, in order that the buyer pays lower fees and taxes, although this is illegal. If you’re tempted make an under-declaration and the buyer agrees to it, make sure that it isn’t less than the property’s value recorded at the local land registry.
The declared price is usually between 10 and 20 per cent below the actual purchase price in cities, where property values are well documented. If you under-declare the value too much, the tax authorities may make their own valuation and tax the parties accordingly, which may also result in a fine.
The balance of the price after the deposit and any mortgages have been subtracted must be paid by banker’s draft or bank transfer. The money can be transferred directly to the seller’s bank account or you can pay by banker’s draft, which is the better method, as you will have it in your possession and the notary can confirm payment immediately. It also allows you to withhold payment if there’s a last minute problem that cannot be resolved.