Lawyers in Italy

Buying a property in Italy should be an exciting process, but it can also be a very daunting prospect. By instructing an appropriate and trusted English-speaking Italian lawyer you can avoid the pitfalls and protect your investment.

Choosing an Italian lawyer

Choosing the right Italian lawyer (Avvocato) is an important decision. It is strongly recommended that you instruct an independent English-speaking Italian lawyer who has experience advising international clients in relation to property purchases in Italy.

Your Italian lawyer should:

  • Be independent. This means that they are not connected in any way to the estate agent, developer or seller. Therefore an independent lawyer will be looking after your interests only and not the interests of an estate agent or developer. It is recommended that you find your own lawyer rather than using one recommended by the estate agent or their own “in house” lawyers.
  • Be English-speaking. Unless you are completely fluent in Italian, your lawyer should be English-speaking. You should feel confident that you can ask them any questions regarding your property purchase and that they fully understand what is being asked and will be able to answer so that you understand. It is pointless paying for advice that you do not understand.
  • Have experience advising international clients in relation to purchasing property in Italy.
  • Be registered. You should ensure that your lawyer in Italy is properly registered with the local bar association. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with their registration number so that you can check this.
  • Have insurance. You should also check that your lawyer has adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance to ensure that you are covered should there be any issues as a result of their advice.

All of the lawyers recommended by Total Buying Abroad are registered and insured. They are also fluent in both English and Italian and provide all advice in English.

Why should you instruct a lawyer to buy a property in Italy?

Instructing an English-speaking lawyer to assist you with your property purchase in Italy will enable you to have a better understanding of the property buying process in Italy, the property itself and be able to avoid any problems before they arise.

Your Italian lawyer will:

  • Check the property title and carry out any other searches required on the property to ensure that you have all of the information that you require before you sign the purchase contract and are bound to the purchase.
  • Review the purchase contracts to ensure that they contain everything required to protect your position.
  • Ensure that you are protected from any liability for any charges left from the previous owner such as mortgage costs, taxes and other claims.
  • Provide advice about any inheritance or tax issues in Italy that may affect you and assist you in preparing a will to cover the Italian property.
  • They can also assist with other practical matters, such as setting up a bank account and will often be able to assist with setting up the utilities on the property after purchase.

Investing the relatively small cost of instructing a recommended lawyer could end up saving you a lot of money and heartache in the long run and will give you peace of mind.

What is the role of the Notary in Italy?

It is mandatory for an Italian notary (Notaio) to be involved in a property transaction in Italy. Their role is to oversee the paperwork in the property transaction, to collect all taxes due and register the property with the Italian Land Registry.

Whilst they are part of the legal profession and a legal representative for the Italian government, they do not advise or protect the interests of the buyer or seller.  Therefore both sides should be individually advised by their own qualified Italian lawyer.

Should I give my Italian Lawyer a Power of Attorney?

If you are not going to be in Italy for the whole of the buying process, it is usual to provide your lawyer with Power of Attorney. This legal document gives your lawyer (or any other person that you choose) the authority to act on your behalf and can sign documentation, including the deed of sale. This saves you having to travel to Italy each time a document requires your signature.

Although it is usual practice for people purchasing a property in Italy, a Power of Attorney gives significant power to the person that you have given authority to act on your behalf. Therefore it is vital that you feel comfortable with the wording of the Power Of Attorney documentation and that you fully understand what you are agreeing to.

Your lawyer will usually be able to prepare the Power of Attorney and unless you are able to speak Italian fluently it will need to be prepared in Italian and English. You will need to sign this in front of a Notary in Italy or in front of a Notary Public in the UK (We can provide you with details of an English-speaking lawyer in Italy or a Notary public in the UK- please contact us for further information).

How much do Italian Lawyers cost?

As a general guide, lawyers’ basic fees for the property purchase are typically around 1-2% of the property purchase price, although this is often subject to a minimum charge. This can vary slightly though, depending on the experience of the firm, the property and the region in which you are purchasing. If a Power Of Attorney is required then there will usually be a further fee for this.

You will also need to take into account the purchase taxes, notary charges and land registry fees as well as estate agent fees (these are normally split between the buyer and seller). These fees are charged in addition to the lawyer’s fees.

All in all it is usually recommended to budget 10-12% in addition to the property purchase price to cover all of the fees and expenses.

It is also recommended to make an Italian will after purchasing a property in Italy, even if you already have a will in the UK.  Your lawyer will also be able to provide you with a quote for this.

When should you instruct your Italian property lawyer?

We would advise that you make contact with a recommended Italian lawyer before you go on a property-viewing trip on which you could potentially make an offer on a property.

By getting in touch with an English-speaking Italian Lawyer before your trip, you will have the opportunity to speak with them on the phone or even arrange to meet them in person. That way you can decide if you think that they are the right lawyer for you, prior to deciding to instruct them.

Planning ahead means that your lawyer can discuss with you the legal process of purchasing a property in Italy and explain exactly what to expect and when. They can also give you a quote for their services and details of other costs that are likely to be incurred along the way. Again this means that you know exactly what to expect and can factor this into your budget before making any offers on a property.

If you are happy with the lawyer that you have spoken to, you can head out on your trip with their contact details, safe in the knowledge that you have somebody that can offer you guidance if required.

We strongly recommend that you do not sign anything or pay any money until you have obtained specific legal advice.

If you require details of a recommended lawyer then please do not hesitate to contact us. We can arrange for one of our recommended English-speaking Italian lawyers to contact you and provide a no-obligation quote for their services.

Other hints and tips

It is important that you tell your lawyer any plans or potential plans that you have for the property. For example, if you are thinking of extending the property, or turning it into a business then make sure your lawyer knows this and instruct them to ensure that there are no local restrictions or laws that may prevent you from doing so.

Buying a property in Italy is probably one of the most significant investments that you will make so it is vital that you have a good lawyer to protect this investment.  For more information or if you would like to be put in touch with a recommended independent English-speaking Italian lawyer contact us on 01244 478911 or at