Anyone interested in buying a property in Italy should familiarize themselves with the basics of how real estate agencies operate, how real estate commissions are determined, and by whom property sales are handled. There are several core elements of the Italian real estate agency (agenzie immobiliari) that prospective foreign buyers may not be aware of and that may differ from what transpires and is allowed in their own country.

First, not all property sales in Italy are handled by real estate agents. Some sales are handled privately between the seller and buyer while others allow for an intermediary (mediatore) who advises and handles the relationship between the two parties. Foreign buyers typically deal with real estate agencies as they do not have an extensive network of contacts and often do not speak Italian. One common question is how do I know if I am working with a certified and accredited agency?

You can rest assured that you are! Italian law mandates that all real estate agents and agencies are fully licensed. To be licensed, one must attend courses covering civil law, tax law, property appraisal, basic banking, and building techniques. After passing a state examination, the agent  and agencies must register with the REA (Repertorio Economico Amministrativo) and Registro delle Imprese respectively. They are given a certificate and registration code from the local Chamber of Commerce (Camera di Commercio). The law clearly states that only qualified agencies are entitled to commissions. Agents operating without a license are subject to fines and possible incarceration.

 

Commissions

Real estate sales commissions are called provvigioni and are regulated by Article 1755 of the Italian Civil Code. The article states “The Agent has the right to demand a commission fee from each party, if the deal is concluded as a result of his intervention. The extent of the commission and the proportion in which this must be borne by each of the parties, in the absence of an agreement, professional rates or uses, are determined by the judge according to equity.” In Italy, agency fees are paid both by the buyer and seller. An important aspect to understand about the payment of commissions in Italy is that commission fees are due when the two parties enter into an agreement and not necessarily when the ownership transfer is finalized. Commission fees may be demanded when the prospective purchaser signs the first offer, or when the Preliminary Contract is drafted.

 Once the main elements of how real estate agencies operate in Italy and the law governing licensing of agents and agencies are understood, the next question that needs to be answered is what amount should the buyer expect to pay in commissions? There is no fixed percentage applied to commission fees and the fees are both variable and negotiable. The seller typically has the upper hand in negotiations and is able to obtain a lower commission rate. The percentage amount is determined by a variety of factors including the price of the property, its prestige, and its location. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the agency and parties generally settle for applying the commission rate as stated in the Chamber of Commerce in charge of the area. (An example here for Florence). 

Lastly, it is important for foreign investors to understand that Italian real estate agents are in no way responsible and/or liable for the properties that they sell. Once the deal is finalized and commissions are paid, their involvement in the transaction ceases and they have no pending responsibility on the property, its conditions, or other.

 

How to find an agent you can trust

A foreign investor may find it challenging to find an honest and dependable real estate agent in Italy. Not all agents or agencies work throughout the country. Not understanding the Italian language and customs may prove difficult in obtaining a fair commission rate or negotiating fees. Having a reliable and knowledgeable local consultant representing your interests during your property search and purchase will allow you to gain invaluable insight on the Italian real estate market and allow for a fast and smooth purchasing process.

 

OUR SERVICES

Our team specializes in real estate and fiscal law and real estate negotiations. Our reliable and proficient agents, lawyers, and accountants will share our insider’s knowledge of the real estate market and provide you with the necessary tools to turn your Italian real estate purchase into a profitable venture. We conduct thorough and detailed research on real estate agencies and provide our clients with recommendations based on our comprehensive database of trusted and vetted agents and agencies. Once a real estate agent is chosen, we help you negotiate a fair commission fee.

 

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