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Selling real estate in Italy: a document checklist

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Planning to sell your home in Italy? Your first concerns are most likely related to its market value and time to sell. Rightly so. You’ll find more than a few real estate agents (and their impostors) happy to give you a back of the napkin value appraisal in order to get your business. Yet a professional property appraisal should be more than a 2 minute exercise; notably it should include a review of all pertinent documentation. Documentation which should be available for consultation by potential buyers. In addition, certain documentation is required by law for the preliminary and/or closing sales agreement.

I heard that groan. True, the document gathering process can be a bit tedious, especially if you’ve owned your home for years. Believe me, I’m not happy to be the bearer of bad tidings! All too often a seller doesn’t find out about these requirements until the closing time approaches. Yet there are several upsides to gathering property documents early:

  1. a more accurate appraisal provides you with peace of mind that you will get a fair price for your property in a reasonable amount of time.
  2. by facing the problem sooner rather than later, you won’t risk losing the sale once a probable buyer emerges; the buyer isn’t going to want to wait weeks to see documents. Forewarned is forearmed!

Here’s what you should gather and why:

  • The Land registry certificate (Visura catastale) and The floor plan can be downloaded, free of charge, by any of the property’s owners from the property registry (catasto), which is part of inland revenue (Agenzia delle Entrate). By law you must declare, as part of a notarized preliminary sales agreement and in the definitive property transfer agreement, that the land registry data, including the floor plan, accurately reflects the current state of affairs (conformità catastale)1. If for some reason there is a discrepancy, it will need to be addressed before the sale can be completed. Your real estate broker can also procure your floor plan for you, however this is a bit more complicated due to data privacy requirements and there are additional fees.
  • The notary act transferring the property to you (and co-owners if applicable). If you’ve owned the property for less than 20 years, it will be useful, and in the case of the buyer requires a mortgage, required, to document prior ownership going back 20 years. The 20 year mark is due to a squatter’s legal right to become owner under certain conditions, known as acquisitive prescription or usucaption. A frequent problem occurs when a property was inherited but the deed transfer wasn’t performed. This will need to be completed.
  • Liens and encumbrances report (ispezione ipotecaria). Any of the owners can print out a free copy from the property information service run by inland revenue. You’ll need logon credentials (username, password and pin, digital in Italy doesn’t mean easy!). A buyer will want to know if the property currently has a mortgage or other lien on it. A definitive check will be performed by the notary during the closing. A right of first refusal may exist in some cases, such as neighboring agricultural property owners or current tenants.
  • Service systems conformity certificates2 or a declaration that they don’t conform if applicable. This applies to each of the utilities (impianti), e.g. gas, electricity, heating and cooling, water and sewer, lifts, tv reception, fire alarms, automatic gates and doors installed after 27 March 2008 and in some cases for systems installed after 13 March 1990. When the systems are installed or replaced, the technician should provide a certificate that the work was carried out in accordance with the prevailing standards. This documentation needs to be provided so the buyer knows what they are getting and cannot make claims to the contrary later, thus there is an advantage to both the buyer and the seller. Don’t forget to include heating and cooling system maintenance records (libretto d’impianto).
  • An energy rating certificate (APE: attestato di prestazione energetica) is required for inspection by prospective buyers and must be attached to the definitive sales agreement, with a fine of €3000 to €18,000, to be split between the buyer and seller, if it isn’t included3. The technician4 will want to view your floor plan and heating and cooling systems maintenance records (libretto d’impianto). Note the certificate must be redone if there are changes which could impact the energy rating (renovations, equipment changes) otherwise it is valid for 10 years. The cost will vary based on the building and its location; you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of €150-300. Keep in mind you’re paying for the technician’s expertise, time (including travel to remote locations) and legal responsibility.
  • Planning permission building certificate5 or pardon (condono). Your city hall provides this, often online. You can ask for it directly, or pay a professional to obtain it for you. An alternative declaration is possible for buildings built before 1 September 1967 as there is an assumption that older records are missing or are of poor quality6. (permesso di costruire dal 30 giugno 2003 in poi, licenza edilizia per costruzioni eseguite prima del 30 gennaio 1977, concessione edilizia dal 30 gennaio 1977 e prima del 30 giugno 2003).
  • Occupancy permit (certificato di agibilità) Available from city hall. Not required for buildings completed before 19347. Not strictly required, but if present stops the buyer from arguing to the contrary later, with not so nice legal ramifications.

In the case of a unit in a condominium:

  • The condominium regulations. The buyer will want to know what limitations, if any, are set out in the regulations.
  • Condominium meeting minutes for the last year (ordinary and extraordinary meetings) including the budget. A buyer will want to know what annual fees to expect. They will also want to know about extraordinary expenses in the works.
  • A statement from the building administrator regarding the current state of condominium payments. If the seller is behind in making payments, the buyer is going to want to know.

In the case of a property currently rented out:

  • The rental contract. The buyer will want to know when it expires and what income to expect.

Regarding the each of the sellers:

  • ID document. This needs to be valid (not expired). This is required to attest as to who is signing the sales agreement (preliminary and/or closing).
  • Fiscal Tax ID (codice fiscale).
  • Marital status certificate, and if married, matrimonial regime (regime patrimoniale)

Naturally if you have property to sell in Italy, we’d be happy to assist you in finding a buyer. Let us know your requirements today!

Note: this information is provided free of charge on a best effort basis. It is not necessarily exhaustive, may not reflect the current situation and is not intended as a substitute for advice on an individual’s specific situation from a qualified professional. Do feel free to provide feedback!

© 2017 Sean Carlos. All rights reserved. Reproduction without prior written permission prohibited.

5Testo unico delle disposizioni legislative e regolamentari in materia edilizia. Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 6 giugno 2001, n. 380
6Legge 28 febbraio 1985, n. 47 Norme in materia di controllo dell’attivita’ urbanistico-edilizia, sanzioni, recupero e sanatoria delle opere edilizie.
7R. D. 27/07/34 n. 1265 artt. 220+