Real estate agents in Italy

02/12/2011 - 03:34

Having read a number of posts and comments on this site which constantly bemoan the lack of professionalism and honesty of Italian real estate agents, the Italian legal system and the general issues surrounding the purchase and restoration of houses in Italy, I would like to send a bouquet and provide a word of warning. Last November we completed the purchase of our dream home in Emilia Romagna with the minimum of fuss or aggravation. Our agent Graziella at Emilia Properties was at all times extremely professional, answered all our emails promplty and went to great lengths to ensure a smooth transaction.  Similarly the geometra/architetto Massimo was thorough and prompt.  From seeing the property in May, putting down a deposit and returning to settle in November, it all went as planned. All this from looking on line in Australia and travelling to Italy and on each occassion having one week to work through the various issues. We even had discussed the restoration of our property and left with an indicative plan (in May). The week we were there to do settlement (November), we had a meeting with the Mayor of our town, the planning director along with our architect/geometra and had in principal agreement to the things we wish to do. I believe this was because: a) we did our homework before coming over and knew what we had in mind, what we could afford and what we wanted in the future. This made it easier for the agents who did not have to second guess what we meant. What we had more trouble with was the UK websites  such as RealPoint Italy where we found our property listed at a much higher price, with all the same information as on our agent's web site. When I queried this, our agent replied. I finally wrote an email to RealPoint myself yesterday advising them that we settled on the property on the 23 November 2010 and would they please remove it from their site. Initially receiving a generic response, I finally received a response to say they have advised it is 'sold'.  Buyer beware - check out the realestate agent, try to use one in the area where you are considering to purchase, make sure you aren't transferred to another site (as happened on several occassions) and if you can speak to someone who knows the agent.  We were fortunate to have a member of the Italy Mag community reccommend Graziella to us. Also when you pay your deposit you should meet the owners as we did and ask the questions about the property you are purchasing, we have made great friends with them as well. We stayed in the town on our last visit, used the local shops, tried to interact with as many of the locals as possible and all in all received a tremendous welcome as we tried to integrate and become part of what will be our new community. We are now in the process of selling up and hopefully starting our new life in Italy in June. Not all Italians are out to rob you blind, and you also have the responsiblity to use your own initiative and find out as much as possible and make the best of your new lives.  



THanks for pointing out that some real estate agents are not crooks!  Your points are valid - UK sites are not Italian agents but 'property finders' - they have no legal basis under Italian law, as they list other agents properties - and then try and cream off their fee from the top.  Unless you are a registered and legally operating Italian estate agent you cannot, by law, ask for commission on a sale.  All agents should be written into the final act of sale with the amount of the commission.  If they are not in the act, the law sys they do not exist and you have no comeback in law with regard to negligence or malpractise.  'Property finders, property agents, consulente' etc are all terms for getting round Italian law - a real estate agent should have a number issued by the CCIAA or the registro imprese, a IVA number and preferably an inscription with a professional association such as FIAIP or FIMAA.  Anyone else is not legal.  While you can be a property finder in the UK, realistically they only list other peoples ads.  One company took ads from my website and their software mangled them so a house to restore completely in Sicily became a modernised hotel in France (Im not joking!) and then they threatened me with court actions because I refused to pay.   Go direct to the agent - its worth an hour of your time on the net, searching the big sites like, or a search for a town.  

HI I would like to agree whole heartedly with you. We bought our house near Lago di como almost nine years ago directly through an Italian estate agent. Unlike you it was almost an impulse buy but Stephania did she made the process simple and clear, helping with everything unlike estate agents in the UK. At the time our Italian was still only of the tourist variety. Stupidly we used an Irish company a few years ago to buy a holiday apartment in Calabria and that has been the most distressing and costly mistake we have ever made.  Again we were rescued by the honest Italian developer who completed the development and has helped out other buyers who suffered bigger losses than we had. Our experiences have confirmed that Italians are great as well as kind generous and welcoming B

Unfortunately you don't always find out the truth until it's too late, I would be very careful about recommending people as you may have a very different view in a years time.  In fact I would strongly recommend removing this post. An awful lot of Britsh ex-pats have had very bad experiences with the companys mentioned. I have pm'd you. The two companys you mention are run by members of the same family (brother and sister) who were previously in business together and thats why they are now both suggesting the other is corrurpt.

What I would say to all of the above is that buying a property ANYWHERE  can be frought with problems (some potential, some actual). Having moved around a bit, the key thing for me is to decide what you will pay for any product (in this case a house), and then really it shouldn't matter who get's what sized portion of the total 'pie'. So, if the seller gets say 94% of the total, the local agent gets 3% and another (say UK based) agent gets another 3%, does it matter ? You are still paying the same 100% ?? Where I think this CAN be 'WRONG' (illegal I assume) is if the seller is expecting to get 100% of the total that you are paying and gets a bit less, the local agent creams a bit more off for themselves on top of his/her 3%. This is the sellers issue, not the buyers as the buyer is still paying the same 100%. I have heard (stories) of the local agent making a little bit more for him/herself through this route, in effect short changing the seller. But again, as long as you (as the buyer) are paying the amount that you are wanting to pay, it shouldn't matter should it? As an owner here in Italy, my major interest will be in making sure that I get the amount that I want for my property when/if I SELL it.

Unfortunately Sprostoni it doesnt really work like that.  I have a house for sale, I earn my commission and an English company wants to list it, why should I halve my earnings?  Therefore if the English company wants their money  its all added on top.  The seller will pay their percentage, I will take mine, and if there is no agreement, and more importantly, no fattura - then Im not going to send a load of dosh to the UK.   The law says as the Italian agent I am written into the act- by both the buyer and the seller - according to the state I have therefore earned the money.  By 'giving' half away I still pay tax on it, but i dont have it in my bank account.  Its not worth it.  So the client pays twice in effect. ANd then we could start on all the scams that agents use to push up their earnings, with and without the clients knowledge.  

Even people who research can get it wrong - the property Winnifred bought was priced 30.000 euros less than they paid for it on a local website!! I have first hand experience of this over pricing - buyer beware springs to mind. Using an estate agents' geometra is always a bad move just more money for the unregistered estate agents - the named estate agents use this frequently as their bank account testify.  I know of both companies well and their tactics over the last 6 years - real scoundrels (now I'm being PC) - the both of them!!  I concur with qui gía!!