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Italian buying process

Introduction to the buying process.

The most important thing to remember if you decide to purchase in Italy is to check the credentials of the people who you are buying from, the process here is very simple, very efficient and well regulated, for this reason you will find people who choose not to be registered as to become an agent or mediator here requires a long course and an intensive exam at the end, unfortunately for you there are a number of so called agents around who cannot legally trade here without the correct licence, they can be anything from local professionals such as architects and geometra’s to expert looking websites run by expats, the moment you decide to follow this path you are not protected and have no comeback to them should anything go wrong. Fortunately it is very easy to find out if you are dealing with the right people by simply asking for the companies IVA number, this is like a VAT number that every business of this type must have and the R.E.A number which is registered at the local chamber of commerce and allows a person to trade as agents or mediators, without these numbers they simply cannot offer you the service as agents legally in Italy.
You may also find that some agents base themselves in foreign countries such as the UK to try and get around the system here or ask for help from a registered agent here in Italy the problem with this is very simple, firstly you may pay more commission as you are involving 2 companies but more importantly they will not be registered as agents on your official contracts, so if anything goes wrong you have zero come back, to appear on the final contract you must be registered here in Italy then the details of the agent will be shown in black and white along with the services and price they have charged you.  

Check the website yourself, find out where they are based and look for their details, protect yourself from home before you make the first move here, our credentials can be found at the bottom of the pages of this website.

Do not risk your investment when the right way is a better and easier way for you.

After the offer is accepted

There are different contracts and processes involved in purchasing a property here in Italy and before I explain how Vignaverde do it I would like to tell you what each contract means to you and how they may affect you financially.

Proposta d’acquisto

This contract is drawn up by the registered estate agent and is used of ten here in Italy, this is a contract that we do not normally use for our foreign clients because of the commitment needed at the time of an offer however I will explain how it works.

You as the buyer after visiting a property will go to the agents office and make an offer for the property, with this offer you can leave a deposit (to be agreed if one is needed) and sign a contract to say that if your offer is accepted you will purchase the property and accept that the owner will bank the deposit (if one left) and sign the documents as acceptance to sell, only if the documents are in order will the agent release the deposit cheque to the owner and sign the contract to validate it. It is the responsibility of the owner to make sure everything is in order otherwise they will have to pay a penalty to you which can be double your deposit.
At this stage it is normal that both parties pay the agent the fees due. This type of contract requires you to have a bank account and tax code already set up and you will then employ the services of a Geometra and a solicitor (if needed)  to help you through the rest of the process.

This type of contract requires commitment from the start and you must fully understand the process before anything is signed as there are high risks involved if you decide not to buy even if a deposit has not been paid.


A compromesso can be signed instead of the above contract or after. The proposta d’acquisto has established a selling price which both parties have agreed to and has also committed both parties to buy and sell, the compromesso document will involve a deposit of around 20%, will confirm again that the buyer will buy and the seller will sell and will also create a date by which the final deed will be signed, this contract can be drawn up by a Geometra or by a Notary and must be translated if you do not understand Italian and a translator must be present. This contract is often used in Italy and can be a way of allowing time before the full act is completed (typically between 3 and 6 months).


The Rogito is the final contract signed in front of the Notary with all the guarantees that a Notary offers, at this stage the balance of the property is paid and you take full possession of the property, if you do not understand Italian you will be required by law to have a translated copy and a translator present at the signing unless the Notary speaks your language and offers the contract in both languages.

How Vignaverde do things & how the searches & documents work

Two of our business partners were foreign buyers themselves over 10 years ago and a lot of their experiences both good and bad have helped us create a way of working to make the process easier for you to understand and to keep us by your side throughout from the first day to the day of signing. Been registered estate agents we have at our disposal all the contractual documents at our disposal if we need them however we usually follow the following procedures.

Once you have seen a property you are interested in making an offer on we do not ask you to sign a contract or pay a deposit we simply take the offer and present this to the owners they will then decide if the price is acceptable, if it is we will ask them to commit to us as agents by signing a contract (if we do not already have one) giving us sole rights to sell the property within a 3 month period, during this time we start our work with you. The reason we do this type of contract is because clients coming from abroad are not always in a position to sign official contracts as they usually do not have tax codes and bank accounts ready or sometimes the fear of sudden commitment is too much in the beginning, this does not tie you or the owners in to buy or sell at this point but as we move along both parties see that there is a commitment there to sign the final contract, should anyone wish to use a formal contract at this point and commit financially we can also use these.

For us to start our work opening your tax code and bank accounts we ask for a deposit towards our fees, this also shows the owner that there is a commitment to buy the property and means we can remove the property from our listings and viewings, on receipt of this deposit (which will be invoiced) we start our closing procedures and with your acceptance instruct our Geometra to commence the up to date searches and collect all the documents relating to the property. At Vignaverde one of our partners who is also a registered Geometra in his own right charges you E395 +IVA  for this service. This stage of the process is the most important and where you will see a huge difference between us and our competitors as we explain in depth how the documents work and make you fully aware of any potential problems that may arise or that need resolving, it is important to note at this stage that it is the owners responsibility to make sure the documents of the house are in order and any work that may need to be done at this point is paid for by them NOT the buyer and if there is a problem with the documents that cannot be resolved your deposit is given back to you straight away.


The moment we instruct the Geometra he will take the documents we hold for the house and after noting the reference details he will go to the Catastal office where details of every property and piece of land is registered along with any documents relating to them, he will collect the documents as they are on that day and run through certain checks.

1. Visual check. He will collect a map of the property and the land to see if it corresponds with the property we have for sale, ie has the house been registered is it showing on the map correctly are the outbuildings showing on the map how many lots of land are there, the shape and size of the land. All of this gives him assurance that what we have sold is what is owned by the sellers, each plot of land and building will have a number, this number will relate to another document that then goes into further details about the house/land ie what type of land it is (agricultural, building land etc etc) and full floor plans of the house.

2. Document to reality check. Very often we find that documents have not been updated over the years and even houses that do not appear anywhere on the maps, this kind of problem should have been resolved some time ago when the government told all house owners that they must register all buildings on their land and register what type of building it is, this was a way the government could then collect the correct taxes due on properties. In the past many people did not register houses or registered them as barns etc so they did not have to pay tax and provided the house was built before 1967 they could register them just before a sale, with the new rule this kind of thing should have stopped but even now many people have still not registered their properties or outbuildings mainly to avoid paying taxes. This is not something you should be concerned about because in most cases it will be resolved by the Geometra and paid for by the current owners, un registered agents have often been known to convince people to buy the property as it is (even if it is not on the maps) and stay quiet or told to register it afterwards, this is a very risky process as you will buy a piece of land only with nothing on it, you will receive no guarantee’s from the Notary, you may not be able to register it afterwards or at best you will pay thousands afterwards to register it. Our Geometra will ensure that if the maps and floor plans do not match the house as it is it will be rectified at a cost to the owners before anything is signed, all of these documents will be there for you to view before and after the work is done.

3. People check. The documents collected will also give details of all the current owners, very often there can be deceased people still on the documents, this happens because to take them off has a fee to it and most people will not do it unless they are selling, again this is not a problem to the Geometra he will simply register the death certificate and produce documents relating to who will be passed down the property and re register it in their name (paid for by the current owners). Anybody who appears on the document must be present at the final signing or have a power of attorney in place.

4. Debts. The documents will also allow the geometra to see if there are any debts or holds on the property, sometimes debts can be paid but still appear on the register in this case a simple document will cancel the debts and re register them as debt free, where a debt still stands the owners must pay it off before the final act can be signed so the Notary can give you the guarnatee that it is free from debt, there are certain scenarios where a debt can be paid off at the time of signing if the owner does not have the money to clear it beforehand, this is all done in the Notaries office and by his/her rule. If there are debts on the property we will go through the possibilities we have to resolve the problem. At the time your Geometra does his search weeks or months could pass before you sign within that time anything could happen to the property with regards to debts or change of owners, the Notary is responsible to do a live check on the day to ensure that nothing is different to the documents that have been presented to him/her.

These are some of the checks that your Geometra will do on your behalf and as agents we know that ALL documents must be in order before we sit in front of the Notary, as any errors will result in the signing not going ahead.

Ready to sign

The moment the documents are in order and ready to sign we will book the date for the act and ask you to arrive at least one day before the so we can go through the contract and take you to the bank to organise a bankers draft and your cheque book etc. As we speak through the act you will sign you will have an English copy and your translator (one of our partners)  by your side taking you through the entire contract which can be up to 10 pages long, the contracts are fairly simple and introduce the Notary, the people present, the buyer and the seller, the property, the land, the price and the guarantees/acceptance. Once you have read and fully understood this we will go to the Notary office where you will be accompanied by your Geometra, translator and usually another one of our partners who you will already know, inside the Notary office there is usually the Notary, assistant and the selling party. The act is read out loud by the Notary in Italian, your translator will follow this in English, as they go along there are always mistakes within the contract such as spelling mistakes, laws that may have changed, tax code numbers etc etc all of these will be corrected and at the end re typed. Once the Notary is satisfied that the document is in order and the property is correct to sell he will invite you to sign each page usually the seller first, then the buyer, the translator (who must swear that the translated version is a direct copy of the Italian document) witnesses (if needed) and finally the Notary, when the Notary signs the document it is official and you take instant possession of the property.

The Notary will then send your completed act to be registered and his fees will include the taxes due which he will pay on your behalf, the act can take 6 weeks to come back to his office where a copy can be collected when you return.

The most important thing for you to remember is that we are with you all the way to the very end when we will be happy to welcome you into this fantastic area.

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