Get the house checked in Italy

Buying an Italian home without the fear
survey on a house in italy as a foreigner
Get the house checked

The sins of the past & more

So, you’ve negotiated a good price and you want to move ahead.

In the past people did whatever they wanted with their houses - more or less - so it’s not uncommon for houses to have illegal parts that need to be put right. This is the owner’s responsibility but you need to do your due diligence and uncover any issues.

Also, check that the official plans - called Catastale - correspond with the house. Maybe a storeroom is listed but it’s being used as a bedroom. That’s OK but the owner can’t sell it as a 4-bedroom house when really it only has 3. It needs to be reflected in the price.

This you might overlook but the price has to reflect that - and look for bigger issues such as extra or extended buildings, roofs, and converted loft spaces. Far better to get it checked first before you pay a deposit. Well, it’s essential. If there are serious issues it can take a very long time to sort out.

For this, you need a geometra* or architect. The agent should be able to recommend someone.

*A Geometra is like a surveyor, not quite an architect but a crucial person for planning and checking.

Buying a house with agricultural land

There’s a law of preemption. If you are not a registered farmer but the neighbours are (with bordering land) they have to be notified of the sale and the price of the land. They have 30 days to buy it. The agent sends them a recorded letter notifying them that the land is being sold. They might write and say ’no’, I don’t want it’ and sign or just leave it and the right expires. This is really important to keep in mind as some parts of land might be crucial to the value and or the privacy of the property you’re buying.

One way to prevent this from happening is to overprice the land a little and make it expensive. The agent can advise on this

Buying an historic property

If you’re thinking of buying something historic it might be under the supervision of the Belle Arti, the Minister of Cultural Heritage. They protect fine art and historic buildings. It needs to be checked what can and can’t be done to the property. This is essential as ignoring it leads to criminal sanctions. The owner should be aware of this designation of his or her property and the notary checks. The agents should also be aware of it.

There’s also a right of pre-emption. This means when you make an offer on a property the Minister of Cultural Heritage has the right to buy it instead of you. A deed is prepared by the notary and presented to them. Then 60 days have to pass. In this period the ministry has the right to buy the building themselves.

Now here’s a thing - they never do. Understand it is possible, so it could happen but they have no money and I’ve been told by so many experts they never buy anything. But you still have this 60-day process, you just don’t have to hold your breath.

There’s a lot of legal, complex jargon but it’s not worth considering. We’ll leave it to the experts and you can sleep sound knowing you will get the property, you just have to jump through this bureaucratic 60-day hoop to get it.

When buying something historic it’s well worth taking a good architect along and getting their thoughts and opinions and for them to reasearch the building and sanctions it has.

Watch my Buyer's Guide series on YouTube