Finding a Good Estate Agent and their Role in Italy

Isabella Zammit,  Friday, 15 November 2013


This article is part of a series of 8 articles about buying property in Italy. The other articles in the series cover the following topics:

If you want to buy a house in Italy, you’ll inevitably have to deal with an estate agent. At the beginning of the process, you’ll use them to help you find a house. You’ll pay all their fees, which are about 3 per cent, once you make the final property transfer.

They don’t figure as highly as they do in other countries. The main parties in Italy are the public notary and lawyer. And the latter is the optional one. Let’s talk in more detail about the role of an estate agent in Italy and how you can find one which works for you.

What Does an Estate Agent Do?

The estate agent acts on behalf of both the buyer and the seller. For the seller, they market their properties and attempt to price it at a rate the markets will accept. They help buyers organise viewings and find out more about what the seller wants in exchange for selling the property.

You’ll also have access to any property information you need. Documentation you can request might include planning permission, boundaries, and land coordinates.

Once you’ve decided on the property and legal representatives from both sides have been engaged, the role of the estate agent is largely over. They’ve done their jobs. It’s the job of the estate agent to simply introduce the buyer to the house and to market the seller’s house. They’ll cooperate with any surveys which need to be conducted in the meantime.


In the UK and other countries, you might market your home with one specific estate agent. Exclusive properties are very rare in Italy. The vast majority of properties will be marketed with multiple agencies.

This gives you a lot of control and choice. If you don’t like working with one company, you don’t have to sacrifice your dream property. The chances are you can find it with one of their competitors.

Not all estate agents work on a national basis. It’s worth researching agents in your local area. You might find a range of local properties not available from the big national agencies.

Introducing You to Others

Although this isn’t part of the standard service, they’ll be happy to introduce you to other professionals who can help you. If you need a good lawyer, they’ll have a list of local professionals with good credentials. They’ll be able to organise other things like surveys and inspections.

If you start to deal with the agent before you have any legal help, they can even help you with things like your codice fiscale.

What You Want from an Agent

You want an agency which knows what it’s doing. You want them to show their expertise and treat you right. They should be willing to put some effort in to give you a hand in making your purchase. Although this is standard industry practice, they should still be able to speak fluent English.

Overall, an agent will prove to be an asset. You won’t have to monitor them or chase them around to get in touch about something.

Customer Recommendations

The best way to choose an agency is to find out what other people think of them. Customer testimonials are useful for finding out the truth about a company. Ignore the ones posted on their website. These are hand-picked and they’ll always show the best ones.

Find a third-party website where former clients speak casually about their experiences. You could even ask an Italian friend about estate agents, if you want.

Meeting Up

Try to make direct contact with your prospective agent before deciding to work with them. You can afford to have a meeting with them about your property before moving on again due to the fact there are so few exclusive properties.

If you can’t make it out to Italy for a direct meeting, at least talk to them over the phone. The purpose of direct contact is to use your instincts. We know whether we’re going to get along with someone. If you don’t get a good vibe from talking to them, you’ll know to move on.

Contact Times

You should be able to contact your agent with ease. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect to speak to them outside of designated office hours, but during office hours you should get straight through.

Buying a property abroad can be a stressful process. If you constantly have to deal with an agent you can’t get in touch with, it’s going to make everything even harder. You should expect a minimum standard of accessibility.

What about a Specialist?

If you’re looking for a very specific property, such as a house with a pool and great views, consider a specialist agent. Some estate agents will only deal in certain types of properties. They will be able to better tailor their services to your needs.  

All types of Italian property for sale by private sellers and estate agents. Find your perfect houses, farmhouses or apartment in all regions of Italy including Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria and Marche. 

Mountain scenery in Abruzzo Some less popular regions in Italy are attractive for foreigners who want to buy a cheap second home or vacation rental in Italy. These isolated regions have little tourism and an interesting housing market. House prices are much lower than in Tuscany or Umbria. They also have some other advantages. 
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