Continuing the questions regarding buying a property in Italy -

10/20/2020 - 05:16

Continuing the questions regarding buying a property in Italy - the Seller does not want us to use the bilingual Notary in Naples because he wants to use the Notary & Geometra in the local area.  We are paying the Notary costs (and apparently have to pay the Geometra).  Our problem with this is that neither of them speak English.  This means that we will attend the Deed of Sale (DoS) signing having not seen anything beforehand.  We will have an interpreter on the day who will explain it in English.  So, if there is anything we are not happy with we either have to accept it and sign the DoS or not sign it & pay the costs of the Notary & Interpreter.  One option would be to ask for a draft of the DoS & pay for a translation but we don't know how much this would cost and it is increasing our costs.  Also, if we then have any questions on the draft DoS we will have to pay for further translations.  The only disadvantage for the Seller with us using the Notary in Naples is that we would have to go to Naples to sign it.  However, we both use Naples airport when going to Italy & it is only one day so we don't think this is too much trouble.  I would appreciate any comments on this.  Is it normal to instruct a Notary to act on your behalf for a purchase & not have any contact with them until the DoS signing?  Thank you.



Obviously your best answers will come from Ugo and/or Modicasa. Our experience in buying and selling was that the deed of sale had no surprises as it was basically the already agreed information built up during the process prior. On both occasions the information present was in both Italian and English, then again it was the same notary and he spoke excellent English, although we did also have a translator on both occasion (as required). I should add that the information therein agreed by us prior to the deed was also presented to us in English, we never had to employ a translator. Perhaps fortunate, but then again I don’t think, in the scheme of things,  it would have cost us a lot to have any of this translated.

"However, we both use Naples airport when going to Italy & it is only one day so we don't think this is too much trouble."

Don't forget - covid test before you go, and quarantine on your return to UK

The choice of notary is the buyers.  

Your situation though is typical of buyers who dont use agents or have people on the ground who speak Italian.  There is no reason why you cant see the paperwork before the sale, most of it is publicly available - just ask for it to be emailed to you.   

However, you are creating problems for yourselves in that if you sign any public document without knowing what it says, it is null.  Just having someone there to explain it probably wont satisfy the notary,  You need a translation, or pay someone to be your POA holder who can sign it in Italian on your behalf.  You then just need a translator for the POA which is a page, instead of the multiple pages of an act of sale.   

The problem isthat most notaries dont prepare the act of sale until the day of the sale, which doesnt give you the time necessary to have it translated.  Obviously all this will add to your costs, but it is necessary if you dont want surprises down the line. 


I would without question have the deed of sale, on there day of completion, at the Notario's office, translated so that you are totally clear of what you are buying -

It is completely within your rights to do so, and you should be sent a copy of  the deeds of sale prior to the final exchange - any seller should be compliant with this - if not, there has to be a reason why...

The day of completion the Notary office can take more than a couple of hours -this is usual practice - I assume you've had a survey for the property......

Would you buy a property in the UK

 when the lawyer and seller only speak Italian....?

Thank you for your comment.  Your points are exactly what we are saying to the Seller - ie we are not prepared to turn up on the day of the Deed of Sale signing to sign something we have never seen before.  We don't seem to be able to get this message through to him.  He keeps telling us 'it's the Italian way'.  The Seller is related to a very good friend of ours so we are certainly more trusting of him than we would be a complete stranger.  However, the things we think are necessary - a bilingual notary or geometra, a survey, seeing legal paperwork before the day of signing, etc - he says are unnecessary.  To be honest, although we would love the Apartment, we are finding this pushing back by the Seller worrying.

I think you are very right to be concerned, but being still prepared to rely on a professional body without finding out for yourself if things are in order I would say is a bigger concern. Does the person own the place, is there any debt or other liability outstanding. Is the building in good state of repair e.g. does the roof need replacing is the place you are buying top floor. Does the place match the plans in all detail e.g. same windows and doors in the same place and same size. Yes you could get a professional(s) to check all these things, but you probably then need to check their findings.

I agree  -  you need to check that it is all above board - 'The Italian way' when buying property isn't really ideal.

The problem is that you leave yourself open to potential issues - particularly if there are debts' to the property - also you would have no comeback for any pitfalls  because 'the Italian way' says that if you didn't check before completing, then it is your problem....

it's highly subjective I know, the excitement of buying a property but really think it through - I would ask - why is the vendor hesitant? the practice of property ownership nowadays in Italy is pretty much as it is anywhere in the western world - you need to know what you are buying....

I would tell the seller your concern and say that you are prepared to walk away if your needs are not met -see what he says  - the market in italy isn't great at the moment - if the seller refuses, there has to be reason why -I know many people who've bought property in italy and they have all had everything in order.

You ready need to see the cadastral document and a survey (which has to be translated into English)

I'd highly recommend you use a geometra and surveyor from another area -maybe ask around.

As lovely as the property might be, there is a plethora of stock around at the moment....

It is thenotary who prepares the paperwork, not the vendor so he cannot supply a copy of the act of sale until the notary has prepared it.  You need to be in contact with the notary not the vendor. 

any survey is your responsibility, in Italy you buy as seen.  If you want a survey it is up to you to organise and pay for it. 

The notary will ask the vendor to provide the paperwork he needs - previous act of sale, plan of the house as 'stato di fatto', APE.   Any work the vendor has done should have permissions and be recorded at the comune.   The notaio checks all this, but obviously has never seen the property, and will do a visura ipotecaria before the sale.  The visor,  planimetria and the act are all public documents you could access these even without the vendor, but there is no reason why the vendor wouldnt supply them.