Whether or not to buy a rustico with land to demolish and rebuild

07/23/2012 - 19:19

After many trips to southern Marche, and not being able to find a house we liked enough to buy, we stumbled upon an old rustico with about a hectare of land that needs to be demolished and rebuilt. It has great mountain views and is near a village. When we initially looked at it a few weeks ago, the price given to the broker was 100,000 euros, not negotiable. The house belongs to two elderly sisters. Our Italian friend then took us to see the owners whom he knew personally,thinking he might be able to get us a bit more of a discount. After waiting a few days to hear from them, they finally called to tell him the price was now 150,000 euros! We had the broker call them back and they are convinced that there are several clients now interested, although the agent was emphatic that it was the same American couple. Needless to say, both our Italian friend and I are rather upset by what the seller did. We are letting it be for awhile to see if they then lower the price again.The house is made of old bricks and stone, which according to our mason friend, some could be reused. My question is if we are able to get the house for 100,000 euros, is this a reasonable amount to pay for a house to be demolished? I was also wondering about the pitfalls of knocking down and totally building a house in Italy from scratch. Our Italian friend has warned us to think long and hard as he said that fees from geometras, etc were now astronimical and that we could end up going down a long tunnel with no exit. A builder friend has told us that he estimates by the time you knock down and rebuild a house of stone/bricks of say 140 square metres or so, that you could have more than 400,000 euros into it by the time you were done, which is something we definitely couldn't afford. Another engineer friend from Pisa told us that if we had a very tight contract that we should be okay. However, most people we have spoken with all have told us that the cost to build or renovate is always much more than anticipated. We certainly can't afford any nasty surprises. Would it be in our best interest to keep looking for a house that either was finished, in grezzo of "habitable'? We have had such a hard time up to now finding anything to our liking as many things we have seen were either in an undesirable location (down a long, white road) or just not what we are looking for.



Difficult to give you accurate advice without knowing more detailss; however here are a few warnings. To start with, the vendors ' attitude leaves much to be desired. Nobody can guaranteebwhat they will do if you try to meet or negotiate their new price. Although it is obvious that you like the property, you should be looking at other properties as well to compare prices. Lso, keep in mind that you are not buying a house, as the existing one will need to be demolished, but a piece of land. Compare with other plots available in the area Demolishing an existing house and building a new one is a mjor undertaking and some people get nasty surprises in the process. You will need to make provisions for contingency sums. If you are on a limited budget, be careful with this . In any case, I wish you good luck..

Thanks for the advice Gala and Ram.  Gala, until this last trip, we hadn't entertained looking at a ruin to demolish and rebuild and I agree with you that I don't know if I now want to deal with sellers who behave this way.  We probably will look at other ruins on our next trip as well as finished houses.  We are on a limited budget, especially now as we still have 4 years or so to retire and move full-time to Italy.  It might be a bit easier if we were in the position to sell our house and business now and have more cash, but that is not possible.  As we have to buy euros in US dollars, until very recently the exchange rate was not favorable for us.  The Brits had much more purchashing power.  We would be happy if we could find a finished house in a location we like but so far that hasn't happened either.  It seems to me that many foreigners have built in remote locations that are difficult to get to in bad weather and too far from the nearest town.  Finding a house with a mountain view, garden area and not far from town is what we are ideally looking for and hopefully something will turn up.  It has been very discouraging up to now.

years ago i would have said NO, BUT after living here for years i would now say YES. Since then a lot of issues have become more pressing.for example the energy question doing a complete rebuild you can definitively ensure the building against sismic activity,ensure maximum insulation (heat and cold) render more simple all service attachments/conduits electricity/gas/water/sewage etc.Guarantee the most practical and suitable room/space disposition for YOUR needs rather than have to adapt to predisposed rooms/spaces.I am not familiar with current builder/geometra quotes however given the recession ie. lack of work for both categories. that working with a good complete contract with time clauses etc you would be able to negotiate competitive rates.I'm sure some would say you can do all of the above in an old building which is true however (as we did) at a much higher cost and a more lengthy period of time (all to conserve some "niche" or feature which nowadays and using recycled materials can easily be recreated)In the long term or should you ever want or have to re sell your new build would have all it's certification in place from the start and be a great house.IF you can get the old bags to come back to reality (realistic price Euro 80.000 x example) go for it.IF they stick to their unrealistic demands inform them they will be dead before they can sell it!These are not times for fuffing around...

I agree with Ram's thought process. See what happens. The events you describe are not unusual. I have seen it several times when working for an estate agent in Marche. The minute someone shows an interest, the price goes up - even if the house has been for sale for years and the market is slowing/slowed. Unfortunately I have rarely seen it go back down again. I don't think it is thought of by the owners as ripping you off - just that they genuinely think their house must now be worth more. Plus there is the "Giuseppe up the road sold his for 150,000" syndrome. Even if Giuseppe's was a habitable house often they will be considered the same by the owner. Yes, 100,000 is on the steep side for a house to be knocked down in Le Marche unless it has a sea view or is in a truly exceptional location. Only you can know that. Have you any experience of a project like this? Have you had anything similar done back home? My opinion is that cutting your teeth on this sort of project in a different country where you don't speak the language (an assumption on my part) is not not to be undertaken lightly. These things will always cost more, take longer and be more troublesome than expected - all easier to deal with if you have been through it before. Also, are you planning to be living nearby to oversee the project? If not, I would definitely walk away or rethink your plans. You will have to pay to demolish the house and then to rebuild it again. If it were me I would want to know if there are any vincoli (restrictions) on either the building or the area. These might mean that you can only rebuild in stone which you might have to buy more of and is expensive. They might also mean that you can only build something that looks exactly like the original house. Also remember in Marche that you must rebuild on the original footprint too. Renovation costs are around 1500 a sqm and building from scratch can be cheaper but you have to pay to demolish too. If 400,000 is out of your budget for the whole project then I think unless you have a 100% reliable team and are living nearby to keep an eye on things you definitely run the risk of going over. Why not buy a building plot instead? I know several around Amandola that have mountain views and I am sure there are others. Why not ask the comune in your favourite town as they will know. Then you can build the house you like (even a timber-framed fixed-price house) in the spot you like.

In reply to by Penny

Hi Penny, My husband is fluent in Italian so language is not a problem.  If we were to undertake a project such as this, we would buy the land and then wait until we could move over to begin.  We'd rent while it was being built.  We were thinking about the timber-frame houses too but have been told by both a realtor and Italian friends that these houses don't hold their value long term.  If we could find a building plot that would be great but the areas we like Monte Rinaldo, Petritoli, Santa Vittoria, Montelparo all do not allow building unless there is already some sort of structure already on the property.  We have never built a house from scratch but my parents have built two so I know something about it from their trials.  We have completely renovated our office and home, though.  The builder we would like to use has a terrific reputation and is our friend's brother-in-law, but he specialized in rebuilding houses to look old and is very expensive.  We do know that we would have a beautiful stone/brick house if he were to do it but all of the unknowns make me very nervous.  I appreciate all of your input and will draw up a list of everything we would need to consider before deciding whether or not to go this route.

"  the price given to the broker was 100,000 euros, not negotiable." Hi , this occur when  buyers climb over the  broker - I wonder how much time and energy will have used the broker to obtain a fair price by two sisters, you have destroyed all his work, to get a result that is now bad for you and the broker. I do not think it right to behave in this way.

Ugo, I think it is rather presumptive of you to make such a statement without fully knowing all of the details.  To begin with, the broker who showed us the house DID NOT have the listing. She told us that it had been for sale for some years but that she wasn't sure if it still was.  She called the sisters to see if it was still on the market and after a few days, they returned her call and told her that it was and that the price was 100,000 euros firm.  We mentioned it to our Italian friend and since he knew the house and the owners, he thought that he might be able to persuade the owners to lower the asking price.  He also felt that the price was too high in the current economic climate as did the agent.  We were not trying to circumvent the broker or cheat her out of anything.  We do know that sometimes a better price can be had when a friend knows the seller and can talk directly to him/her.  Our friend was the one who suggested speaking directly with them.  It was not at our instigation.  We also, however, had already seen the house on our own several times prior to going with the realtor as we had always admired the view but we did not now that it was for sale as there was no "vendesi" sign.  We were not behaving in any way that we thought was deceptive towards the agent and would certainly work through her if we had been able to agree upon a price with the sellers. Esme, I also would have hoped that you would have asked for all of the facts before jumping to the conclusion that we had acted inappropriately.  We are not the sorts to bypass an agent after we have seen a house with her, we were simply following the lead of our Italian friend.  

My comment was based on what was written, clearly could not know what had been written. In Italy almost never find the for sale sign on a house, one of the main reasons is a law called prelazione, according to this law the owner of the land attached to the land placed  around the house has the right to purchase the property at the same price that is sold to others. many times it happens that the neighbor to give up this right, asks the owner a sum. Often happens that does not pay, the seller does not communicate that to the neighbor sold the house. The custom whereby when you get the price of a property from a person who was asked first, then do not go to ask the price for other people in Italy is called fair trade.  A real estate agentknows this and other laws governing the sale of houses in Italy and behaves accordingly, this is the reason why, well that would be a foreigner who does not know the laws in Italy would do well to use it, many acquaintances, not know or just do not think all the problems relating to a sale, the seller then, thinks only of his interest.  The result of your actions, is now under your eyes Ugo  

Ugo, Interesting............I actually thought the prelazione was generally only applied to property/land immediately adjoining a working farmer's land? Also (maybe a myth !), when you buy a property, do not spend lots of money within the first 3 (or is it 12 )months as the prelazione could be invoked, so..... the neighbour could buy at the price you paid even though you may have spent money on it(knocking it down for instance) S

In reply to by sprostoni

Sprostoni, you are correct but there are other circumstances where it can be invoked and they do not need to be working that piece of land necessarily so it is not always easy to tell. Think the next bit is a mythsmiley The prelazione rights can only be exercised within 12 months of the deed of sale but any other properties, not subject to prelazione are unaffected. If the owners of the property you buy notify all the neighbours who have this right, in writing by registered letter, of the price you are buying for and send a copy of the compromesso (not sure if this last bit is strictly necessary but I have only seen it done this way) then they have 30 days to respond that they want to buy it. If they just don't respond then they have lost their rights to buy it. So you can protect yourself. To be safe, get the vendor to send the letter to ALL the neighbours as it is not always easy to tell who has the rights.

In reply to by Penny

Penny , i am sorry . the silence do not pay on this law  ! is it necessary receive a negative reply , via raccaomandata or writing in front of the notary , to have  to be sure that the neighbor does not want to exercise the pralazione - It 'happened several times that the neighbor, has also declared its intention to exercise his right and found a judge who has proved him right. It is also good to know that when you use a mortgage to buy the property , the bank does not pay the mortgage  if  the act  not accompanied by the declaration in which the neighboring states did not want to exercise the prelazione - if this document is missing, the bank will pay the mortgage after a period of 12 months.

In reply to by sprostoni

if the house is located within the land sold and is part of the same parcel of land, the house is subject to the PRELAZIONE law - for this reason , i suggest to all buyers and sellers , of to provide , before  sign a Compromesso, to to create a parcel of land including the house and grounds of respect - in fact, that the law allows land to a house stacked at the Land Registry - which is not subject to Prelazione law - can be connected to a plot of land up to 5000-m. This is the only possibility to save the buyer by Prelazione ! Pleae to understand , that , if for example ,  on the compromesso have a price not same that in the final sale act , and maybe the buyer pay money ( in black ) that do not have in the sale act - when the adjoining to activate the Prelazione law , they pay to the buyer ONLY the price that have in public sale act .... not more ! :(  

Clearly you are very concerned about the final amount of money you will have had to fork out to achieve something nice in the way of a house. Although I agree with sebastiano and Penny that a straightforward new-build is likely to result in a successful liveable custom designed house, I don't think that you can expect any certainty on the 'bottom line' going that route, and getting 140m² inside 400,000 won't be easy. I'd urge you to look at two categories of building. Firstly, well restored rusticos, preferably completed within the last five years, ideally owned by Germans, Dutch, or Brits. The likliehood is that these houses will have been rebuit/restored with little attention to expense, and at the same time the owners may be more in tune with the dire property market, or even be desperate to sell at an acceptable price. The second category is a speculatively constructed finished new-build on sale by a (desperate for money) respected Italian contractor. I emphasise finished: beware of in-grezzo - the prices for finishing one of these can be unexpected. Those are my thoughts - good luck with your search!

Fellide and Sebastiano, I wish there were still a grazie button as in the old days.  I really appreciate your advice as well. Yes, I am very concerned about money as I have heard of too many stories were building costs got out of hand and have experience some unpleasant surprises as well when we renovated our house and business.  Everyone here has given me a lot to think about and we will continue to explore both renovated houses as well as possibly building one from scratch.  It would be ideal if one were to come on the market that was in a location and finished to our liking and we do still have a few years to go before moving over.  We have seen, though, over the past 7 years or so, that it is not easy to find what we are looking for and for that reason, we continue to view a few properties anytime we are over.

Hi Lisa C,You probably have reasons for your choice of Marche but just wondered if you have looked further south in Abruzzo,prices here are lower for properties you describe.Abruzzo is a very picturesque region of natural country areas of rolling hillsides,hilltop villages and a little further inland the mountains,which form part of Italys largest national park.Not far from where we are is the historic town of Vasto with its wonderful sandy beaches  along the coastline. Here are many rustico/antico properties in various states of structure,traditional brick or stone,some with large amounts of land.We believe we have found our dream location but everyones criteria is different.Wishing you all the best in finding your dream location.

Hi Lisa C,You probably have reasons for your choice of Marche but just wondered if you have looked further south in Abruzzo,prices here are lower for properties you describe.Abruzzo is a very picturesque region of natural country areas of rolling hillsides,hilltop villages and a little further inland the mountains,which form part of Italys largest national park.Not far from where we are is the historic town of Vasto with its wonderful sandy beaches  along the coastline. Here are many rustico/antico properties in various states of structure,traditional brick or stone,some with large amounts of land.We believe we have found our dream location but everyones criteria is different.Wishing you all the best in finding your dream location. Thanks for the suggestion Atessa, We have been to Northern Abruzzo several times but prefer southern Marche.  However, perhaps on the next trip we will also check out southern Abruzzo and see what we think of it.  I find the Northern part to lack the charm of Le Marche as most of the villages we have seen really did not have much character and the surrounding area had more industry around than I like. 

I'm not quite agree on the fact that British, German and other non-Italians, may be interested in selling their properties at a low price. This is because they have definitely purchased at a less favorable and made major renovations and expensive, in short, who could spend a lot with the euro when the exchange was unfavorable, now beginning to be favorable, will certainly have the economic strength to wait, especially because the rate of their mortgage are now favorable thanks to a better exchange rate - But the Italians, who are forced to pay the new tax IMU of country houses that do not produce income, will be available to lower the price, as will companies restoration that can not find work.

Lisa I don't know why you are asking for advice here as we all know that a porperty is only worth what someone will offer you for it. If you think this 'Rustico' is worth the money then so be it, taking in the fact that you are going to knock it down and start again; and more to the point if you can afford the initial cost, plus the rebuild costs and the cost of geometra/architect and filing with the Comune, and you love the location above all then; if you add up all these costs (I don't know but it looks like another €500k on top) then after all it's your money, and if you think you can't find 'your dream House' anywhere else for less than €600k, then as we say 'dip yer bread son!'

In reply to by Flip

Flip, No, we certainly don't want to spend 600,000 euros nor can we afford to.  We were hoping to not spend ideally not more than 350,000 if we were to find a restored house (150 square meters or so).  With the current exchange rate (US dollars) that would still be about $437,000 plus realtor fees, taxes, etc.  What I am really trying to find out is if the price to buy a house to demolish and rebuild would be comparable to buying a finished one, but from feedback I am getting it could go either way.  I also wanted to know if the 100,000 euros was a lot for a rustico.  It seems so to us but we haven't looked at many properties to tear down.  I do know that our Italian mason friend spent 75,000 euros for a teardown, but as he is in the business, it would be much cheaper for him than for us.  We also aren't able to get a really straignt answer from him as to a good ballpark range for the total cost to demolish and rebuild and thus were seeking advice from forum members.  We had been told that the going rate was 1200 euros per square meter for rebuilding, but others have said it would be much more.

Lisa, keep on looking. you still have 4 years until retirement. Many things can happen during that time and you may find another perfect place that would suit you better. I also agree with you, don't buy properties in the middle of nowhere Isolation can become a major problem as we grow older. There are usually plenty of beautiful spots within walking distance from town. Make sure that you have all basic facilities nearby. And a major airport with international flights operating throughout the year and not exclusively by low cost airlines. Never get into a project beyond your agreed budget. The dream may become a nightmare. As I said before, I wish you lots of luck in your endeavours. 

Thanks Gala, The trick is for me to keep my husband from not getting discouraged.  He is starting to think that maybe we aren''t "meant" to be in Le Marche, since it has been so difficult for us to find something.  I keep telling him that something will eventually turn up and that we have plenty of time.

 I know a wonderful townhouse in Santa Vittoria for sale with mountain views and beautifully restored. You may have already seen it. Personally if I was coming to retire I would live in town. Much more sociable being able to walk down to the cafe and see all of life displayed in front of you in the piazza. I have never heard that there are no building plots allowed in those towns. Have you enquired with the comune or are you relying on an agent who may have something to sell? I would definitely check with the comune. For examle if you buy enough agricoltural land and register as a farmer you can always build a home for yourself. I know for a fact this is th case in Marche too. That could be another route. There is also a builder to absolutely avoid in that area. Feel free to PM me for details.

In reply to by Penny

Hi Penny, We did go to the comune in Montelparo but only asked about houses for sale.  I know in general we have been told that it is very difficult to find buildable land and that you need to have a structure already on it or there is a large tax to pay.  Our friend in Monte Rinaldo showed us the only spot in town there that had buildable land but it faced a block of solar panels and did not have a mountain view. I have sent you a pm Penny.  Thanks so much. Lisa

"Esme, I also would have hoped that you would have asked for all of the facts before jumping to the conclusion that we had acted inappropriately. We are not the sorts to bypass an agent after we have seen a house with her, we were simply following the lead of our Italian friend." I didn't jump to conclusions or say you had acted inappropriately Lisa, I said that I agreed with Ugo's point of view.  That's all. 

We bought a derelict casale last year...exchange rate was terrible for the UK/Euro but time run out for the exchange rate to get better as it had been just in the months before we made an offer...grrr!!!...so we went ahead with it anyway. We knew we liked the area - the wonderful Sabina Mountains just an hour North of Rome and so served by by both airports (we drive from Ciampino to our door in just under an hour and enjoy the scenery on the drive too!). We don't have funds yet to start work on the main house but there was a little annesso which we are just making habitable now. We've seen lovely places sit unsold because of a stubborn-ness on the part of a vendor to accept a lesser price than they've got fixed in their head. When the property is lovely and with great views etc clearly these places remain unsold (unless there are inheritance problems etc) becuase they are asking too much and people walk away when they look into renovation costs. If you have an idea of the costs to renovate and really love the place why not make your offer in writing (this seems to get action when we did it whereas telephone conversations got us nowhere!) and then if they accept just leave the work until you can live nearby and oversee it. We're trying to do things with an architect from a distance and I'm pretty sure stupid things and questionable extras are cropping up which just wouldn't if we were nearby... Good Luck!

After looking for a long time for something habitable we went down this route and can honestly say now we are really glad we did.  We had a local builder give us a contract for the final price and timeframe which he kept to.  Our builder knocked down the old farm house and reused the original materials  and now we have a traditional looking brick and stone farmhouse with knowledge that it is to all current building and safety regulations.  Our house sits on massive concrete piles and metal grid (I'm sure many will know the technical term - I don't remember).  We know of many people who have bought property supposedly only needing a certain amount spent to find once the builders start digging around walls etc the problems are much more serious and end up costing a lot more than anticipated.  I like the fact that I know all there is to know about my house - no nasty surprises.  We lived in a town whilst looking and then during the build, ultimately 18 months, and as our build was close to where we lived by the time we moved we had made many friends and were known locally.  Moving straight into the countryside can make you a little isolated but if you have spent time in the local town first this issue is solved and you have the best of both worlds.  Best of luck with it all.

Thank  you Rachel, Karen and Sebastiano, It seems that people are pretty divided on the best route to go.  The more I read the more confused I get!  I was told by a realtor that we find a habitable or finished house that we must have a civil engineer, not a geometra, inspect the house before purchasing.  We really don't want to spend thousands of dollars on an inspection but would want to be aware of any potential problems beforehand.  In the States, we have building inspectors who do this work for about $400.00 US.  Does anyone like this exist in Italy? Our friend has also told us that it is important to know who the builder was if we were to buy something restored to know the quality of the workmanship.  All of this practically makes me paralyzed as it seems like stepping into a minefield!   I was aware about  prelazione as well.  In fact, a neighbor of a man who has been trying to sell his stone house asked the man to "rent" a piece of his land and they have entered into a 5 year contract.  Our friend thinks that the neighbor may be trying to do something furbo to then have a claim on the property if a buyer comes along.  This is a house we have been considering off and on through the years and this new twist certainly complicates matters. Sebastiano, We would certainly consider buying a ruin that already was on the ground and buildling from scratch but up to now haven't been able to find one that is reasonably priced. 

I tend to go along (a bit) with Esme on this one. You are thinking "in theory" stuff here. You seem to want the earth for no pennies. If you found a delicious site it is likely to cost north of 80.000E - in other words you discount the value of the ruin; - it is a universal truth that most sites worth building on have already been built on, and it's problematic that you are coming into the market about 400 years too late! Now, I understand what Ugo is saying - the foreign owners have this "it stands me at" mentality, but there are plenty desperate to get shot of what looked like a great investment (we all know real estate never loses value!!) but they need to wake up and smell the coffee before they die. If you have dollars, you (were) getting richer by the day, maybe now you are thinking wow, that euro is less cheap than it was yesterday.  I'm not sure you really want to find anything. Ask yourself - is someone else pushing you, and you are resisting what you think is a too risky move? 

In reply to by Fillide

No Fillide, It's quite the opposite situation - I have been pushing to move back to Italy ever since we left in 1983.  My husband is the one who has some mixed feelings about being away from our kids full-time but we have sorted that out and come up with a plan that is workable for him.  I absolutely love Italy and feel that I was born on the wrong continent. I spent 4 1/2 years there and my husband eight.  I also spent a few years amassing documents so that we could obtain our dual citizenship, which we now have.  My husband is also able to practice in Italy since he went to school there and  passed all of his exams for licensure, if he so chooses once we move over.   I am also not sure what you mean about if we have dollars that we have been getting richer by the day but that now perhaps the euro is less favorable.  Until the last few months, the euro to dollar was terrible. The exchange rate for the British was and still is, much more favorable than for Americans and the price of houses in Le Marche is significantly more than what my house in the US is worth so when we do sell it we will have to use some of our retirement savings in addition to the sale of our home to fund our Italian house, unless we are fortunate enough to be able to sell our business. My husband thinks that to buy the house to demolish is a great thing to do if the price comes down.  I have a more cautious nature and want to know what we would be getting into before making such a leap.  I don't think after hearing horror stories about building that it is wise to just go ahead and purchase a derelict house and not have fully researched all that is would entail to bring a new house to fruition.  Our Italian friend had taken us aside after we showed him the property and gone there with his mason brother-in-law and recommended we think long and hard about property rebuilding as he has been down this road and said it can lead to a lot of heartache. He is presently building on his property another building to potentially use for his children and he has said it has already cost him much more than he bargained for.  In fact, he has been trying to get us to buy a small, restored townhouse in the village that is available for a good price but my husband will not consider it as he must have a garden to putter in right outside the house.  He said he would feel trapped in a house that had no land around it to go outside to.  Where we live in the States, we have about 5 hectares of land and a small vineyard and he has ample space for all of his projects. My husband is the one who gets very frustrated that we have spent a long time searching for a house and that we haven't found anything yet except this property so he is ready to jump and buy it.  He feels that perhaps we are not "meant" to be in Le Marche since it has been so difficult to find what we want but I am much more of an optimist and think that whether it is this property or another, that something will eventually come along. He has also said on occasion that others seem to have an easier time finding something but then they are in a location that he does not like i.e. down a long, white road and too isolated.  We have spent some time researching a few areas of Italy and Le Marche is an area we both really like.  My husband also likes Basilicata, where most of his family is from and we may reconsider it if we can't find what we are looking for.  We do still have 4 years before retiring. Anyway, I hope this clarifies things a bit.  It just gets a bit overwhelming getting so much conflicting information at times.  

Jiust to set the record straight on prelazione: It has nothing to do with whether is a vendesi sign on the property.  It has nothing to do with you being foreign or not. It has everything to do with the neighbour being a coltivatore diretto or azienda agricolo and who is an owner or working farmer with a full rental contract.  If that is the case he has the right of prelazione within 18 months of the date of the act of sale.  He must buy all or nothing - he cannot pick and choose land or buildings he wants.  He must pay what the buyer has paid at atto plus any other costs incurred in the meantime.  When there is an offer on a property, the agent or seller should get the neighbour to waive his right to prelazione by signing the appropriate form.  its not rocket science.  For the rest: it will always be cheaper to find a restored house or a new build than demolish and restore.  Of course it will be probable that you will have reinforced concrete instead of stone, and so on- but thats why its cheaper! 

i overlooked another possibility- a completely new build on a site. meaning where the previous house has fallen down/or was demolished or whatever,i know personally of an example the people involved for really very little money were able to buy the site with some land around it and because there were still photos of the original house in the comune they were allowed to build it more or less to respect what had been there before with the difference that it was then built to state of art spec/insulation/energy saving ecc ecc with them deciding the internal footprint of the house.The whole place was then finished in the local stone externally with old tiles etc so if you didn't know it appears to be an "old" house.The cost for everything came to less than E.400.This route avoids the costs of demolition too.

Ugo - we have just been through this and your advice is contrary to that of the notary. He was quite clear that if worded correctly, then the neighbours could have 30 days to respond and if they didn't then they had missed their opportunity. It would obviously be better if they signed their rights away but in our case for exmple there were over 100 people! Ram - it's 12 months not 18 and expenses/costs have to be claimed from the original owner and not the new owner who exercised his right. I've just spent this morning translating at an atto for a couple who fell foul of this so it is very fresh in my mind.

In reply to by Penny

I recall nigh on 5 years ago when we bought here, our geometra saying.............'I wouldn't do any major works for a year, live in it and then see what you want to do with it'. I (I guess wrongly) assumed this was due to the potential of prelazione problems. As it happens all went well, Could it be local interpretation of the 'law'? S

In reply to by Penny

Penny , yet ,  The Italian Notary association , in > http://www.notariato.it/it/primo-piano/studi-materiali/studi-materiali/prelazione-contratto-preliminare/66.pdf say Una volta effettuata la denuntiatio, in qualsiasi forma, la rinuncia deve comunque essere presentata per iscritto, a pena d’invalidità, con la conseguenza che, ai sensi dell’art. 2725 cod. civ., la prova testimoniale atta a dimostrare l’avvenuta rinuncia è ammessa soltanto nel caso di perdita incolpevole del documento contenente la rinuncia stessa (67). ** i am sorry if all text is in italian - the traslation is >if the waiver of preemption is not made in writing, has no legal value ** Ugo

Ugo - In Italy everything must be in writing!  Obviously a waiver to any right must be written - accetazione tacita exists, but negazione tacita not!  Re the period:  Diritto di riscatto - 12 months for a straightforward sale, 18 months in certain conditions.  To my mind it is safer to assume 18 months, as it used to be. Diritto di prelazione - if I remember correctly, any money spent in the first 3 months between the compromesso and the atto must be padi by the confinante.  Money spent after the atto, as Penny says, is refundable by the vendor.  However, my original point remains.  Prelazione is very easy to avoid.  It is not rocket science. You need the signatures of the neighbours who have the right.  Thats all.  Once they have waived the right there is no further problem.   

In reply to by Ram

yes ram , i agree with you - all to be writted . Regarding money > don't interest if price are payed part at compromesso and part at final - the very importntant is that the price payed is FULLY showed on the final   Ugo

Lisa - the "right" place hasn't shown up yet.  Forget all this stress and headache.  Let it happen when it happens.  You will know it when it does 'cus it feels right and falls into place.   Stop pushing for it to happen 'cus you're worrying about this one way too much.