Hello everyoneThanks in advance for any

linmuir Image
05/30/2019 - 10:54

Hello everyoneThanks in advance for any responses to this.I posted some time ago about buying a property in Italy and took the advice given. I've now found another property and have agreed the purchase price etc.I was about to begin the sale process and contacted a bi-lingual lawyer, dealing with conveyancing in Italy, based in both the UK and Italy. I have paid a retainer for them to start work for a flat fee.I let the estate agency in Italy know about this. They are bi-lingual and called me to explain that, if I take on the services of this 3rd party, it will complicate the process. They have explained to me that, in Italy, the estate agents must be qualified in legal matters relating to the sales procedure and that, as they have been operating for 30 years without any problem, they will do all the necessary searches and so on, to ensure that the title to the property is in good order and that the sale proceeds smoothly. Their fees are 5% of the sale price, and they say this fee is partly because they are bi-lingual and able to ensure the legal matters are all in order for foreign clients. They are really discouraging me from involving a 3rd party as they say I will be doubliing my fees and that, although I will pay a flat fee, matters in Italy can easily become complicated so that I will end up paying a lot more, to this lawyer, for 'extra' services.Can anyone give me any insight into this please? I've read lots of stuff on the internet about the necessity of employing a bi-lingual lawyer to check everything, but I'm never sure if this is simply to advertise services and whether it is really all that necessary, given that a notary and a qualified, bi-lingual estate agent are involved.Thanks again!Lin

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Sorry,linmuir ,  I did not understand if you are selling or buying .In both cases, the English lawyer, for a negotiation in Italy, often really complicates things, because he does not know all the Italian rules and customs, which are extremely different from the English onesAs far as the agency is concerned, its commissions depend a lot on the price of the property, the higher the price the lower the percentage - let's say that as a rule, for prices below 100,000, a flat of 3000 euros is considered, for prices from 100 to 900 a commission between 2.5 and 3 percent, for prices over a million, a 2% commission is sufficient, over 2 million even 1.5% If you then purchase through an Italian agency , and you don't trust their work, the best thing is to find a bilingual notary who explains all the procedure, costs and expenses Finally you can also read this page of mine, where you can find a lot of useful information.http://www.lifeinitaly.it/Inglese/Buy_property_in_Italy.htm 

I agree with Ugo,  a good estate agent and a decent notary mean a UK bilingiual lawyer isnt necessary.  A lawyer will translate all the documents the agency will translate, and look at documents available online which anyone can see.    However 5% for an agent is astonishingly high whether they are bilingual or  not.  You dont say where you are buying - mpst regions have a guide as to estate agents commission, which at the moment is nearly always 3%.  Some agents  - in particular one  franchise charge 4% though they do exactly the same work as any other agent.     

Hi there; welcome to Italy and the wild world of estate agents. 5% is really high. You should only pay 3% no more. Make sure the agency is registered legally as an estate agent; it should be able to quote the registration number. You definitely as a first time Italian purchaser need someone to watch your back. I used a UK lawyer specialising in Italian property as this means you are covered by the law Society if they do something wrong. I strongly recommend you not to trust them without having someone check it out for you. I used the Italian Property Law centre in UK and a lawyer called Ugo Tanda who I believe now works in Rome. He was charming, efficient and cost £3000 15 years ago but worth every penny for the peace of mind. There are miriads of pitfalls in Italy we Brits are unaware of.Better pay a little extra and know the house is safely yours. There plenty of houses on the market and dozens of agents waiting to bite your hand off. Have you thought of hiring an interpreter?
Good luck

linmuir ..DON'T SKIP IT !!for 3000 pounds, it is worth risking the pitfalls (?) of an Italian notary - at today's exchange they are equivalent to 3373 euros - with that figure, the commissions of a bilingual notary are paid, for a sale, up to around 500,000- euro .. and in some cases even more. - The Notary, is responsible on his own and jointly and severally - for the deeds he signs - The English lawyer, probably in Italy, is not even prosecutable, according to the Italian laws on transactions - and even if he was, with KALM, of the Italian courts, you risk becoming BIS-GRANDFATHER, before seeing your claims satisfied, in a lawsuit for damages, international (if then comes the BREXIT .. also Great-grandfather !!!)

HiI did a lot of research into whether to instruct a lawyer in Italy for our purchase as we made an offer on a house at the very top of our budget.  In the end I decided to, even though the flat fee works out to about an extra 1.5%.  I'm really glad I did.  There is absolutely no way an estate agent would be qualified to deal with the legal issues involved in this particular purchase, which has turned out to be slightly (but perhaps only slightly) more complicated than many. Also, 5% to an estate agent sounds like downright robbery.  If you aren't absolutely in love with this property, I would be tempted to find another one, especially if you have a substantial budget to spend (entailing a huge agent's fee).  There are lots of ways to find properties without contacting estate agents directly.   I saved over €20k by avoiding estate agents - enough to pay for my lawyer, my detailed UK-style property survey report, my geometra (to check everything is as their geometra says) and the notaio - all of whom add far more value, in my experience so far.  Also, my seller saved over €20k, which allowed him to be more flexible in accepting my offer.  

Cie ,Well, in the end you paid the Notary's work twice - with the difference that the Notary is legally responsible for what he does - While the English lawyer is not - Then of course if you find a seller who doesn't use a real estate agent for sell, both saved, that percentage - But be careful, if there is a real estate agent in the transaction and you do not pay - He, in accordance with Italian law, can force you to pay his commissions, even getting from the court to sell your property in Italy, to recover its commissions.

In reply to by Ugo

Hi UgoThank you for your reply.  The lawyer is qualified and works in Italy, as well as previously being qualified to practise in the UK.  Thankfully, there is no estate agent in the transaction.  As a former lawyer myself, it is quite clear to me that the work our lawyer is doing on our behalf goes beyond the role of the notary, who is supposed to be impartial between buyer and seller.  The lawyer acts in our interests only and, should they make a mistake which had financial or other repercussions, we have the backing of their professional indemnity insurance (presumably, unlike an estate agent).

Cie, by no means, the real estate agent has BY LAW the obligation to have a professional insurance, and must prove it every year, to have paid, otherwise the Italian Chamber of Commerce, removes the mandate, without which he cannot legally to receive his commissions. The agent's commissions are paid in front of the Notary and reported in the purchase deed, together with a copy of the invoice, receipted - It appears that neither you, nor your qualified lawyer, have the necessary knowledge of Italian laws. Aimeh .. ., fortunately there are the Notaries, who guarantee, with their signature (and their WIDE professional insurance), the legality of what you have signed, in the deed of sale 

It's good to know that estate agents in Italy have to have professional insurance.  I've never discussed this with my lawyer as it has never been relevant, so it's entirely unjustified to say my lawyer doesn't have the necessary knowledge of Italian law, and quite rude.  I don't pretend to have the necessary knowledge of Italian law myself, I qualified in England.  I never claimed I did.  I didn't mean to offend you by saying that I consider a lawyer to be better qualified to deal with the legal aspects of a conveyance than an estate agent.  You're obviously free to hold a different opinion, so let's agree to disagree.  

Cie ,I'm sorry if you feel offended, by my words, it wasn't my intention. I usually express my thoughts and my certainties, without unnecessary turns of phrase. I understand that this way of acting may seem rude. However, the experience (20 years in real estate sales in financial brokerage qality and 791 mortgages only to foreign customers, all over Italy) taught me that it is better to look tough and straightforward, rather than sweet and misunderstood.Ugo, by Lifeinitaly.it

It's not one of your 'certainties' to claim that my lawyer doesn't know Italian law because I wrongly presumed that estate agents do not have professional indemnity insurance.  This is nothing to do with my lawyer.  It was my mistake, not his.  Nor is it 'tough' or 'straightforward' to make claims you know nothing about.  We both made incorrect presumptions, so let's leave it at that.     

Hi EveryoneThanks so much for these helpful responses, I appreciate it.I'm still a little confused though. Perhaps I should explain more detail of my particular buying situation and see if this changes anyone's response..?The impression I get from sites like this is that most people buy with a partner, and don't therefore have to prioritise safety and community quite as much as I do: I will be buying alone, although my daughter and my friends will most likely visit. For that reason, I have to rule out the typical detached 'farrmhouse' that most people aim for.Another major factor is that I will use the home for around 4 months per year only, the rest of the time it will be empty as I don't intend renting it out. I want a property that I can partly live in and partly convert to a large artist's studio - this issue is the major factor for me. I also love gardening, so a garden is very important.So, whilst I am aware that there are 100s of properties for sale, my needs for a property may be different to most people's - safety and size are the most important, rather than say, land or potential as a holiday home or rental investment.I finally found an unusual, lovely house right in the centre of a very pretty town very close to where my one Italian friend lives. I've had 2 surveys done on it, both by local geometra - one was suggested by the agents another by my Italian friend. Both have said the only major work needed is replacing the roof eventually.The house is semi-detached and free on 3 sides. It has a front and rear garden. The rear garden is terraced with a courtyard on the upper part and grass etc on the lower part. The property can also be accessed via a 24/7 permamently accessible driveway. There is a driveway at the front and parking space there too.  Upstairs are living conditions that have been used by the family as a holiday home until recently and which need some cosmetic work - and the roof I am aware needs a complete replacement within the next 3-5 years (I have factored in the costs). Downstairs are workshops that are very scruffy at the moment but most of which have windows looking onto either the front or the back gardens. I can convert these into studios over time - there is no immediate rush to do this as I am used to working as artist in warehous type conditions. The town has everything I need - shops, restaurants, cafes, good transport links, close to a major airport. The street is beautiful, tree lined and quiet. I love this town as I feel so safe there and everyone is so friendly. The house itself is in excess of 3100 square feet - its huge - roughtly half upstairs and half downstairs.I have managed to negotiate just over 18% off the asking price. I could never, ever buy something so lovely in the UK of that size at that price. Following all of your advice on this site, I asked my Italian friend to ask her notary friend for help. He will charge me around 1.5% of the sale price for helping. He is not bilingual but says he will use a translator.The only thing now putting me off is the agency fee at 5%. Not so much the fee but because of the responses and input on this site about those fees. This has made me think it's  is not so much the amount that this adds up to - although this is high as you say, I feel I have made a good saving by negotiating the property price down. However, what bothers me is the idea that this high fee makes me suspicious of the company itself; if they are taking the view that they will ask this because they know that they can get away with it, then what else are they trying to get away with..? They have said they will translate all documents, trasnfer all bills into my name, install internet for me, anything else I need help with. With that said, if the notary does his job, then all should be okay?Please let me have your thoughts, I'd love any feedback!

In reply to by linmuir

5% is way too high. The usual agency fee is 3% and you can negotiate: we gave them 2% of the buying price...Also, agents in Italy don’t have a clue what they are talking about & when they tell you they are aware of legal matters etc...I would recommend you double check on everything. If you feel more comfortable working with a 3rd party, follow your instincts.You have to constantly be behind your agent here, you can’t rely on them really. They are untra « old school » in the way they do things & there is zero transparency. The real estate market has crashed a while back & never truly recuperated, It’s a good time to buy however, market demand is low compared to the amount of properties for sale &, there are real estate agencies evey 20 meters in Italian cities so...don’t let them rock your boat & follow your gutt feeling :)We just purchased a house in Liguria and surpises were still arising while at the notary’s office & handing the sellers a check...I literally recorded the entire signing to make sure I had back up if needed because they say one thing and then turn around and say something different! Lol.   

very much sorry that you have been tricked by one of the very few Italian real estate agencies, completely incapable of doing their job, and that to save you was forced even to register your purchase contract - This strange activity of registration, purchase contracts , here, in Italy, it was already done at the time of the Roman emperors ..angel

I still think 5% is too high and I would call his bluff and threaten to walk away. It is a buyer's market at the moment with stacks of houses on the market. Many agencies are charging commission only to the vendor. Will he want to lose a sale and more importantly will the vendor want to lose the sale?
I love Italy and have lived here for nearly fifteen years but the real estate market here is the wild west compared with UK (which still has its fair share of cowboys). 18% off the asking price seems good to those used to a UK market but it is not a high discount for Italy. I know of a house sold .recently for 400,000 which was bought originally for 1,000,000. How long has it been on the market for? How much will it cost to renew the roof? You can get a free preventivo for the cost but make sure the tradesman is registered with the local comune and factor in the cost of the relevant building permit, cost of geometra's fees and be aware that often quotes in Italy do not include IVA. As you are not going to be an Italian tax payer and resident you will pay higher taxes than a resident who can offset costs against tax

Linmuir ,18% discount, it is not high, for a 300 square meters, to which the roof needs to be redone, and the entire ground floor must be transformed into a livable one, certainly we should know the starting price, but an agency that works for you, and you want a commission, so out of the standard, you should work harder, not in the translations or in the internet connection (which an Italian city has nothing transcendental and cost that can be reached even by a young person at first employment ), but at a more substantial discount! - The translations, too, of what? - a bilingual act, which normally takes care of the notary's office, can affect about 300 euros on the total price, and includes the presence of the interpreter at the stipulation (the Italian notary law, requires that the signatures of contractors who do not include what they sign) - but, after all, if this house is really your dream, and your only concern is to spend a few hundred euros more ... <go where your heart takes you> dreams they are not repeated, money can be regenerated.

Hi again the negotiates price is euro 115000 and land tax is approximately 175000 euros - I’m aware of the other taxes. This town is an expensive one and this is absolutely the best value I’ve seen in this specific area

115,000 discounted by 18% = 94,000 - if each floor is 150 square meters - the roof will be about 200 square meters, calculates a total of 50,000 euros (scaffolding, cranes, uncovering, landing the resulting material, new beams, reinforced curbs, new beams, roofing , insulation) add, 500 / euro per sqm, to transform the 150sqm of ground floor into a living space, that is 75,000-euro (plumbing, electrical, thermal, flooring, fixtures,) with a careful and careful choice of materials - Then there are the design costs, say 15,000-euros, and finally taxes, because for sure, to transform the ground floor from c2 to a2, the municipality will want something, let's say 10,000 euros? - the purchase fee if you took up residence in Italy (even if you are in Italy only 4 months a year) would allow you to buy as a first home - that is cadrastal value 175,000 x 2% = 3500-euro - if instead you "settle" of a second home, you will make the happiness of the Italian treasury, leaving on the plate the 9% of 175.000 = 15.750-euro - As you see The notary, for what guarantees you, is the least cost!In which area of ​​Italy this city is located ?the final price , aroud 1.100 euro x sqm - at the bottom, a fair price, for an Italian dream 

Hello again, thanks for this. The price I gave is the re- negotiated price. The starting price was euro 140000. A local geometry gave me a cost for two kinds of rooves - the first is the same as the current one and the cost he said would be around euro 50000-55000. I asked for the cost for a roof with exposed beams and removing the existing ceilings to create more space and character and the cost he gave for this was euro 80000- 85000.There is already plumbing/ water downstairs - I don’t need to make it liveable just usable as a studio. it is in an area of historical interest so I had to check about any changes I want to make and the same geometry has been very helpful and very clear about what I can and cannot do. do you think it’s good? It’s in a beautiful sos town in Tuscany about 30 mins from the sea by car

Hello,for 115,000, the 5% is really too much - I, in your place would negotiate - 3%, it seems to me more than enough . Just yesterday, one of my customers closed a purchase of 400,000 euros, near Cecina at 3%. obviously with bilingual  purchase agreement  , with text provided by  by the real estate agent -As for the expense, I sincerely hope to get a final price of 265,000, including the fees of the surveyor - However, I strongly advise you , of obtaining a metric calculation, with display of the prices per square meter of work and specifying of the materials to be used - And an agreement signed by the company that does the work, with a penalty for the delivery time of the finished work. 884, euro per square meter for a restored 300 square meter house, now ... in Tuscany .. verges on the incredible.

You could ask the Camera di Commercio for your province what the recommended rate of commission is and go back to the agency telling them that.   Obviously if you have already signed something with the agency promising to pay htem commmission at 5% you have little leverage. Is the 5% charged by the agency inclusive of IVA or not?  If not you must add a further 22% on top of the 5%.  If it is then then they are asking 4% in reality. 

Hi ThereThanks for this reply.They are charging 22% IVA on top of the 5% fee. It means overall paying around 4000 euros more than if I were to pay 3%.I suppose because the house seemed such good value to me I didn’t mind paying it - although absolutely everyone says it’s too high.I haven’t signed anything in writing yet. But did agree by email - only because they initially wanted their full fee on signature of the compromesso and I said I’d pay half upfront and half at the end.My Italian friend has also said it Ian high but doesn’t seem too bothered about it. She came with me to see the house and was amazed I gonany discoint at all because for the area she said it was incredibly good value. How would I contact the Camera di Commercio?Linda 

Check and see if the agents are members of FIAAP and talk to the association which has a code of practice for its members. I would also check with the comune to see if it has a certificate of habitation as if it hasn't it is illegal to live there until repairs have been done to the satisfaction of the comune. If you talk to the technical department at the comune (take your Italian friend or a translator) you should be able to find out a lot about the property including any work that has been done, if it has had any antiseismic work etc.Also it sounds mad to someone English but make sure there is noone else with a financial interest in the property or with a claim to it. Flying freeholds are not uncommon ; also situations where a relative owns one or two rooms where they descend for the whole of ferragosto with sundry kids and animals. I have viewed properties where next door owned a bedroom and had knocked through to extend into one room and another where nonna owned a r couple of rooms downstairs and came every August with all the grandchildren! Caveat emptor.

Hello againMy friend in Italy has recommended a notary who is not bilignual but will use a translator.She called him to explain the situation and says she trusts him. He will charge euro 2000.Ugo, could you please confirm that the checks that 'Oldandbold' suggested are checks that should be made by the notary? As you can appreciate, I am not in Italy at the moment, don't speak Italian, and would find it difficult to make all of these checks myself - although I really appreciate this being pointed out to me, so thank you.Many thanksLinda

http://www.lifeinitaly.it/Servizi_Immobiliari/avvocati-e-notai.phpdatabase of english speacking Notary .The standard notary checking - named < Relazione Notarile Ventennale > is a research that the notary does, for the period of twenty years prior to the purchase, and includes, all the changes of ownership, the constraints and servitude to which the property is subjected, the mortgages that have been registered, canceled or that still affect the property, the existence of owners over the seller, the title of ownership of the seller, as he obtained it, if for purchase or inheritance, if on the property there are constraints to guarantee other heirs, if licenses have been issued buildings after 1967, if there are building amnesties that have been requested but not paid -more about Notaires >  https://www.notariato.it/en/notarial-services-foreigners

Hi UgoYou have been extremely helpful with all of my enquiries, thank you. I really appreciate that you took the time to respond to this so professionally.Many thanksLinda

No way 5%.  That is way too high.  When i bought on the Tuscany coast I was quoted the same % but negotiated that down to eventually 1.5% as the agent gets commission from both buyer and seller so he got 3%.  That is plenty in current market.

With respect Ugo is an estate agent so has a vested interest. In my area Tempocasa is not charging any commission at all to buyers; only to sellers. I suggest all buyers check on the commission before they look at a property and if the amount quoted is too high walk away without viewing. Many properties have multiple agents.

with Respect oldandbold , you are in ERROR ! ,Ugo do not is a Real estate Agent -  Ugo ( = me )  is A Mortgage broker  - working from 1998 in Italy - only for not italians borrowers - this info you can find on my profile -for the work I do, for over 20 years - only with non-Italian customers, throughout Italy, I think I have some knowledge of the Italian real estate market, and of the professionalism of the real estate agencies that populate iti suggest you ., before write  well or badly of someone, to take information, on this someone, otherwise we end up making the figure of those who talk about themselvesand certainly many properties have more agents, because the exclusivity, in a market that has difficulty in resuming, is a rare commodity. - However, your advice to abandon - immediately - a property, only because of the commission requested. Does NOT make any sense, if the property pleases.If a man is not willing to fight for his ideas, or his ideas are worth nothing, or he is worthless. (Ezra Pound)Ugo - by https://www.lifeinitaly.it

ok for 5% too hight , but  the  1,5% .that you pay , on what  property price , is calculated ?Because , if you buy , for example , a 80.000- euro property  - 1200 euro , decreased 30% italian  dutyes ( agent paty duties on his income ) = 840 euro -- hmmm - i do not believe exist that agent  ...More , some times , Agent for buyer and Agent for sellers, do not is the same people - 

Ugo, the fee is negotiable but obviously needs to be agreed in advance. As I said my agent got 1.5 percentage each from seller and buyer and was eventually okay just to get the deal done and the property cost made it worth his while. The normal rate seems to be circa 3 but agents often seem to start with 5 percentage. Ultimately the fee is just one factor. It is easier to reduce the fee on more expensive properties. I agree that it is harder on an 80k sale.

Tony,well - what was the amount you paid 15% for?I, in place of a real estate agent, would refuse to work, for a commission, net of taxes and VAT, of less than 1500 euros -2 journeys by car with customers of 60 km each, have an average cost including all consumptions, insurance, stamp duty, deterioration, minimum 90 euro - then it is necessary to withdraw from the notary, at least 2 trips, in the register, at least 1 trip - make several phone calls - if the average cost of a bricklayer is 40 euros per hour - that of a real estate agent, it should be at least 50 - in practice, our agent should work no less than 50 hours - adding up all the costs - the agent would hardly have a cost x customer, less than 600 euros - Considering that every 4 customers, one goes to port and 3 does not - after 6 months of work, the agent can easily declare bankruptcy. This is one of the reasons, for which, the Italian chamber of commerce, has established that the commission of the real estate agent is equal to 3% - for each client - Then surely there is always someone willing to work for a piece of bread. But this someone, where will he find the economic resources to provide his client with the result the client expects?This, before <how much I spend>, is the question to which to give an adequate answer!