Buying a property in Italy - Recommended Lawyers?

Mark_UK Image
09/26/2010 - 15:53

Hello everyoneMy wife and I are considering to buy a new property in Sicily. We flew to Trapani airport last August and visited the island over a lovely 2 weeks break and I must say that Sicily is really breathtaking.We have been all over Italy, but we prefer the Southern part for various reasons, nonetheless the great weather, food and how friendly everyone seem to be! However, I must say that Sicily has a lot more to offer than Puglia and Calabria, where transport links with the UK are non-existent.We have now found a villa within our budget (£300K) in a little village between Palermo & Trapani but were cncerned about signing a reservation form - in Italian - without having an Italian lawyer checking it out for usCan anyone suggest/recommend a suitably qualified Italian lawyer with good command of English? Shall we use an Italian law firm in the UK? Or shall we contact a local lawyer in Sicily?Can anyone recommend a good solicitor? the estate agent is pressuring us to send a reservation fee of €10,000 to take the property off the market and he says that we don't need a lawyer in ItalyHowever I would rather err on the side of caution and instruct a lawyer first!I've already been in contact with a couple of Italian lawyers here in the UK, but their fees seem rather high (approx £5,000 including all extras, plus the cost of the notary) so I'm not sure how to proceed? Any advice?I'd prefer to use a lawyer recommended by other forumers rather than picking one from the internet...Thanks, Mark


Mark,   I can send certainly recoomend you my friend Giorgia, her English is fluent and she has worked in many similar situations before. She also collaborates with my husband who is a solicitor based in the uk. Please send ma a pm if you would like her details.   Paola

Hi, I really don't like the sound of the pressure and the compromesso in Italian.  I am fairly confident that you cant eb bound by a contract that you dont understand.  i know this stageisnt notarised but a notary will not pass an act unless you understand the contract fully.  I think you are very wise to get this checked out.  5k sounds steep to me.  I have a lawyer in le marches whom i trust and who has good english but that may be too far   If you want her details please pm me   F

Please make sure you use a lawyer - there are many people who have not used one and have had a smooth purchase, there are many who haven't and have had major problems - I personally know someone who is in year 2 of what sounds like is likely to be a 10 year costly and lengthy court battle because they listened to their estate agent and didn't take legal advice  - and then there are others who have used one and have been saved from making massive mistakes.  Based on better safe than sorry we purchased 6 months ago and had a very smooth purchase - stress free using an italian lawyer (recommended by an italian friend who has used him) based in Liguria.  He speaks excellent english - we did everything via email.) His name is Silvano Briozzo and his email is Fees are usually worked out on a % basis in italy and pro rata what you have been quoted is the same as our final bill including all the taxes. The notaio is totally separate and comes with an additional fee - you have to have either an interpreter or get the final papers translated (or ask your solicitor to recommend an english speaking notaio which is what we had) I would recommend you do a thorough web search and contact the law society re Giambrone - one of the partners of this firm was being investigated for allegations of malpractice We were very cautious having heard sooo many nightmare stories and yes we paid a little bit more for what turned out to be very little work - but for us the peace of mind was worth every penny - our philosophy was we'd never part with the sort of money you've mentioned in the UK without a lawyer checking everything out when we buy a house so why would we in another country where we don't understand the buying process/laws/language etc Good luck and keep asking questions - we were very fortunate to have friends where we bought in Liguria both italian and english without whom I don't know how we'd have done it

We purchased in Liguria in 2016 and luckily found this thread. We used Silvano through all stages and found him a great asset before, during and after the entire process. Having very little Italian language at the time he really helped so thanks for the posting Ladolceviata. If you need an english speaking lawyer in northern Italy Silvano comes recommended

It is neither binding nor legal to sign any form in Italian if you dont understand the language.  The law requires that it must be translated.  Your estate agent is behaving badly - which one is it?  I would advise very strongly against Giambrone - if you want reasons PM me - enough to say that Giambrone is currently fighting lots of lawsuits and is to be struck off the UK solicitors list - which is why - according to many - he is now operating out of Palermo.  Buying in Sicily is slightly different from buying in the rest of Italy - it is an autonomous region with certain different laws.  I am the only legally operating English estate agent based in Sicily and associate of FIAIP - if you need advice or pointers drop me a PM.  We collaborate with some agencies in the Trapani region - so I may be able to help out.  If you dont feel that the agency and the notaio are going to protect your interests, you should use a lawyer, but shop around. 

Like Ram, I have experience of Giambrone and I would not recommend them. I'll not go into all the details here, but I will say that, although I didn't suffer major disasters with my Italian house purchase in 2006, there were niggling problems that left me feeling that they didn't do as much as they might have on by behalf. The other point you should consider is that, while the property itself may be within your resources, you need to consider all the associated costs which add a lot to the final bill. I can understand you balking at paying lawyers £5,000, but there will be many other fees and charges you'll have to pay as well and they'll make the lawyers' fees seem not all that huge. I'm not up to date with what's a reasonable amount to budget for these additional costs currently, but you should look into this point. What I do know is that you should not give in to  pressure to sign contacts and hand over money if you're not absolutely certain about what you're doing and what you're commiting yourself to. That's blindingly obvious, really, but a lot of people do end up falling in love with a house and begin to believe that their lives will be desolate if they don't move into that one perfect house as soon as possible. It's not unknown for properties to sell rapidly in Italy, but it's far more common for houses to remain on the market for years. For example, some of the places I viewed in early 2006 had been for sale for some time before I saw them and are still on the market today. I therefore view the "send us money now to get the house off the market" ploy with some suspicion. The villa in Sicily may seem to be everything you've been dreaming of, but this is certain: it's not the only house in Italy that you'd enjoy living in. Don't let the estate agents take advantage of any niggling fears you may have that it is the one and only Perfect House for you. Al

When we bought our place, we used the services of  They are fluent English speaking Italians helping people source/buy in Italy and Europe.  They were marvellous, and their legal rep was spot on with following things up and ensuring no nasty surprises.  I would absolutely recommend them.  If you have not chosen anyone to help you yet, get in touch with them.  I wish you success and hope your dream to own in Italy goes smoothly. JM.

I agree with everything that is being said. There are many many houses for sale in Sicily old and new as well as land. There is absolutely no shortage or a run of houses jumping on the market and everybody rushing to buy.The Notary must make sure that you have full translation. There are many other fees which differ depending on whether it is your main residence or not. It is expensive to have your utilities connected. Property taxes can be high. You need to know every single thing that is involved and which will have to be paid for and how much they will all cost. It is also the Notary's job to make sure that there are no land inheritors outstanding on the land your house is built on or anthing else that may show up in searches rendering your house to be unlawful. Also it has been known for folk to turn up after the event claiming to own parts of the garden or that they should have had first refusal pertaining to rural or urban law. There is a lot to consider and as already said, Sicily has autonomy of its own. Alarms bells chime when an estate agent tries to hurry you when you are spending so much money. I would not deal with them for that reason alone. That's just me. Southern Italy is beautiful. My brother built a house there in Agrigento a couple of years ago. Make sure you have an independent international lawyer with genuine Sicilian experience. Do all these things before you go househunting so that you are in a position to move when you have been fully informed re the legal processes, costs etc. Then you can enjoy taking your time to see if you want old, new or to build your own   Good luck.

Most Italians on a simple purchase trust the notary. Using lawyers is a UK thing. Having purchased in various European countries and several times in UK I never use lawyers. I look at the house with the agent and then go back later and introduce myself to the potential neighbours and local mayor or similar. It is amazing what they will tell you. Take a local to translate if necessary. Worth a go and should reveal why the agent is being so pushy. Lawyers only look at the deeds and are never able to find potential border disputes or a nuclear waste dump proposed at the end of your garden.

Cardi in the UK you HAVE to use a solicitor, You are right in Italy it is not necessary and may locals just use a notary. However I think if you are foreign and do not spreak the language it is better to err on the side of caution and employ the services of an independent adovate who could also act as your POA if you live elsewhere. We have all heard horror stories where the property bought hasnt matched up with what the buyer expected or deeds werent clean etc. An independent advocate would stop things like this happening. Yes it is an extra expense however I think anyone sensible would addvise hiring one.   Saying all of that does  anyone know of a good one near Brindisi area?  

There is always risk when you buy a property anywhere.............BUT...........if you can read and understand the basics I'd go without the lawyer. The notary has responsibility in making sure the legal ownership etc is identified and rules are adhered to. He will not do a survey on the property so things such as who owns the road , white goods, boiler are in working order etc are your responsibility, I got away with it  S smiley

No you don't have to use a solicitor in UK. They have a monopoly in charging for conveyancing but you can and should, if you are sensible, do it yourself. You do a better and quicker job. The Land Registry was brought in to do away with the need for solicitors but they do have a strong interest in making money and use scaremongering tactics (successfully) to get business. Italy is easier as they expect you to have a 'hands on' approach to buying. It is an important purchase. Too important to be left to others.

It is the clients choice if they use a lawyer.  Most international lawyers will do what a notaio and a translator do but much more expensively.   IF you are using a registered agent and one who is a member of an association such as FIAIP, they will do all the due care and diligence stuff and have indemnity insurance.   THe process in Italy is much more opaque than in some other countries, though there is stuff (such as knowing whether someone will build next door) that you cannot know for certain when you buy, but your agent should explain everything and help you through the process.  Many lawyers, in my experience, throw up mythical problems which require solving, no doubt hours of expensive lawyers time, when in fact there is no real problem in the first place.  As with any business transaction, it makes sense to understand what you are doing before you start.