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Property buying in Italy

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  • Property buying in Italy

    I would like to state before hand that the Italian conveyancing process is extremely safe assuming that the buyer will have the normal care and attention requested for any high value investment of this type.

    In my personal view three essential elements should be duly taken in consideration for a smooth transaction:

    1) language barrier
    2) differences between legal systems
    3) conflict of interest.

    All binding legal documents relating to an Italian real estate transaction must be written in Italian, independently from the nationality of the parties.

    Italian legal writing is highly technical, ritualistic and often archaic due to the close links with Roman law.

    All this is further complicated by the profound differences between the English/American system based on Common Law and the Italian one based on Civil Law.

    Buyers should be very attentive when signing a legally binding document (often inaccurately or even unfaithfully translated into English), bearing in mind that once signed they will have little chance to change what already agreed with such document.

    Special attention should be given to printed standard versions of contracts that are rarely drafted taking in due care the interests of the buyer.

    Finally it is very important to consider the problems connected with the conflict of interest.

    Any buyer should remember that a real estate agent will receive his commission only if he will finalize the sale, as a consequence some of them might not feel motivated to tell all the truth about the property.

    A final comment concerns the phase of the signature of the Deed of Sale in front of the Notary public.

    A lot of buyers would believe that this is the essential part of the conveyancing; the truth is that after signing the preliminary contract there is very little space left to modify any essential aspect of the transaction in the phase of completion.

    Furthermore It’s important to highlight that the Italian Notary public is in a position of neutrality between the buyer and the vendor, so he is no substitute of the legal advisor.

    The Italian law provides that during the Deed of Sale the buyer who is not fluent in Italian should be assisted by an interpreter.

    Also the Deed of Sale must be translated into English although, in case of discrepancies, the Italian version will prevail.

    It is essential that the interpreter is, not only duly qualified under a strict linguistic point of view, but also in terms of legal background.

    Moreover the interpreter should not be in conflict of interest; such would be the case when the interpreter is appointed by the vendor or the real estate agent.

    The best way to minimize all risks connected with the purchasing process is appointing an Italian bilingual qualified lawyer. A legal advisor will undertake the legal due diligence connected with your property highlighting all the legal issues connected with it, will liaise with vendor and/or real estate agent, will draft the preliminary contract taking in due care the needs of the buyers, finally will assist you in front of the Notary public, giving an expert and independent explanation of all the legal implications of the documents the buyer is called to sign.

    Avv. Giandomenico De Tullio
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