Ten tips for buying a farm in Italy

Enzo Ricci,  Tuesday, 5 September 2017

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Ten tips from a frustrated English family who after buying their Italian farm had to wait 15 months until all the formalities had been completed:

1) Always stay calm otherwise you will be crazy. The Italian bureaucracy and the administration of justice are incredibly slow. Don't lose your patience, however, insulting an Italian won’t do you any good. Don't challenge anyone to the courts either; it’s a waste of time. Civil proceedings can take years for the court to decide.

2) Assume that at least one part of the farm you’re interested in, requires an environmental permit. The notary will only approve the purchase if the environmental permits for all parts of the farm are present.

3) Check that there are no mortgages or other debts on the property. Mortgages and debts are transferred to the buyer.

4) Before entering into the final contract of sale, you must first enter into a compromise contract. You have to make an advance payment of 10-20% of the selling price at a compromise. If the buyer withdraws, he loses the prepayment. If the seller withdraws, he must pay the buyer twice the amount of the advance payment.

5) Italian estate agencies will rarely publish good pictures of the property on their websites. They are afraid that they will lose their commission if the house is visible and can be identified. The fear of losing the commission is also the reason why Italian real estate agents don't want you to visit the house on your own. Irritating behavior and it takes a lot of time.

6) Italian estate agents charge a commission to both buyers and sellers. Sometimes up to 2.5 %. An agent can earn up to 5% commission for a single transaction. Better not employ an Italian agent. But then you must have sufficient knowledge of the local market.

7) Many rural dwellings are supposedly for sale. The owners only want to know how much their property is worth. When the children inherit a house from their parents, all children become joint owners of the house. If one of those children does not want to sell the property, then you as a buyer can waste a lot of time negotiating. Therefore, always ask who are the real owners of the property.

8) If you buy the land next to the house, please note that the neighbors are entitled to purchase the ground first. Therefore, try to get a written statement in which the neighbors indicate that they do not want to buy the land.

9) Make sure that the contractors put the planning of work in detail on paper. This won't be easy because they prefer not to record anything at all.

10) Above all, make sure to hire a good geometra (architect or engineer). The geometra can guide you through the purchase process and is also able to make a good estimate of the work that a contractor has to carry out. A local geometry knows the region, the local bureaucracy, and the contractors in the area. A geometra is not cheap but can save you a lot of misery and expense. You have to assume that as a foreigner you simply don't have the knowledge to buy and renovate a house.


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