The Role Of An Estate Agent In Italy
Agenti Immobiliari (Italian Estate Agents) are qualified and registered with the local Chamber of Commerce (Camera di Commercio) in full compliance with Italian law. The legislation is intended to not only guarantee the professional qualification of the Estate Agents but to also ensure the agents hold compulsory indemnity insurance in the best interest of the client.
Should the agents not be registered, they could be prosecuted for carrying out a reserved activity and could be liable to fines and other penalties; the agents may also not be legally entitled to the requested commission.
The Estate Agents must:
- Have a diploma (Equivalent to three A Levels)
- Have attended a mandatory Estate Agent Professional Course
- Have passed the two tests of the above course (written and oral tests) held by the local Chamber of Commerce
- Be registered with the local Chamber of Commerce
- Hold compulsory Indemnity Insurance
The professional (and entrepreneurial) role of the estate agent is no longer just a “matchmaker” who connects the parties, but rather the point of contact for the parties to provide information, to carry out property checks and propose solutions and to assist the parties with discussing a peaceful conclusion of the deal; this however does not mean replacing the professionals (lawyers, technicians, notaries, banks) but rather working alongside them during the negotiation.
Whilst the Estate Agent is not required to undertake any technical or legal investigations concerning the property which might have an impact on the transaction (legal due diligence), the Estate Agent is nevertheless responsible to disclose information according to the principles of normal professional due diligence and duty of care. The agent is therefore obliged to give information on any known circumstances or issues that should be disclosed under those principles. To impart incorrect or non-verified information to an interested party is unacceptable according to the law; hence the reason the Estate Agent carries out thorough checks on the property before this is placed on the market.
The Estate Agent checks the Land registry titles and plans, that the property complies with all the local planning and building regulations, and any relevant building plans approved by the local authority, otherwise any problems are brought to the attention of the seller; they also research and communicate, in absolute good faith, all the information that may be useful in order to guarantee a peaceful purchase and sale. Lastly, the Estate Agent makes sure that the owner holds the relevant certification of habitability (Certificato di Abitabilità), this certificate, issued by the local authority, confirms that all systems at the property are legal and that they comply with health and safety legislations. To sell an Italian property, this certificate is mandatory.
An Italian Estate Agent (also called “Mediatore”) receives the commissions (called Provvigioni), which are usually paid by both parties, the Buyer and the seller, typically at a rate of between 3% and 4% (plus Italian VAT) of the property price each.
Once a potential Buyer is considering the purchase of a property, both parties (Buyer and Vendor) will generally sign a legally binding document first called a ‘Proposta Irrevocabile d’Acquisto’, A Reservation Offer and a small deposit is handed to the seller at this point.
The reservation offer removes the property from the market for an agreed period of time, usually 15 days, to give the interested Buyer (and his Legal Advisor) exclusive rights to conduct due diligence on the property. This includes checking: all the documentation of the property, that the property exists, that the seller has the right to sell the property in question, whether there are any mortgages, charges or any third parties’ rights or other undisclosed encumbrances affecting the property, that the seller has complied with all the relevant Italian tax legislation, whether all service charges due have been paid (where the property is in a block of flats), etc…
Once the Buyer is satisfied with all the searches, the new stage of the conveyancing process is the negotiation and signing of the preliminary contract (‘Compromesso’). The Seller must ascertain that all the statements contained in the contract are true to the best of his/her knowledge, no false statements are made, full disclosure is given and that the specific enquiries raised by the Buyer have been answered truthfully. At this point the buyer pays a deposit between 10% and 30% of the total Sale price of the property.
Should the Buyer withdraw from the purchase prior to completing the Sale, the Buyer will automatically lose the full deposit to the Seller. Where the Seller withdraws from the sale prior to completion and if is considered to be in legal breach of the preliminary contract, the Seller will be required to return the deposit to the Buyer. The Buyer may also decide to take legal actions for breach of contract.
The final stage of selling a property in Italy is the completion of the Sale. This usually takes place in front of a local Public Notary (Notaio). Italian Public Notaries are State officials legally entrusted to transfer ownership titles of an Italian property, and they have the duty of drafting the Deed of Sale (called Rogito), to ensure its proper execution, registration, and payment of all Italian taxes’ ancillary to the completion of the sale.