Before you buy a property in Italy, or even put in a bid, there are a number of extremely important questions that you need to ask first. This will allow you to clarify the deal before you sign anything, and give you peace of mind as the purchasing process progresses.
Buying a property in Italy can be complex with a mountain of bureaucracy and local regulations to work through and comply with; so you need to make sure that you know everything is in order before you commit to continue with the purchase.
The Most Important Questions To Ask An Italian Estate Agent.
The following are the key questions that you should ask:
Is The Property Accurately Priced?
Unlike in most other Western countries, including the United States, it can actually be extremely difficult to find out the correct value of a property in Italy! Real estate websites in the US, and elsewhere in Europe, show you the ownership history of the property as well as the transactions going back for decades. This allows you to get a clear idea of the current value of the property, taking into account the recent market changes.
In the US, you can go to a website like Zillow and get a fairly accurate value of the property that you are considering to buy. You will clearly know how much similar properties in the same zip code sold for. But this is also not the case in Italy! This means that local knowledge is essential and you’ll have to hire professional assistance.
A good real estate agent will provide you with a Geometra to survey the property before you sign anything. They will survey the property and give it an accurate valuation for you. It will usually cost around 500 Euros to hire a Geometra to survey and value a property although it is well worth the cost to get a clear idea of what you’re considering to purchase.
How Long Has The Property Been Up For Sale?
It’s critical to find out from your estate agent how long the property has been on the market for. Many houses in Italy, particularly in rural areas, have been on the market for months and even years. If the property is taking a long time to sell you can deduce that there is low demand for it, and possibly that the local market is depressed.
If this is the case it’s very useful for you to find out because if the market is depressed, or demand for the property is low, then you know that you can try to negotiate the offer price down. Furthermore, if you meet resistance from the seller when you are trying to negotiate you can point out that the property has been on the market for years without selling.
What Is The Estimated Cost Of Renovations?
After you have bought the property you won’t have another chance to negotiate the price down further, even if you discover that there are essential renovations that need to be done. This is why you should establish what the approximate cost of renovations will be before you make a decision on the purchase.
Once again, a Geometra can assist you in making an estimate on the cost of any renovations. You should also ask your estate agent if it is easy to get official approval for renovations in the area; this is not always the case in some locations, particularly in historic areas. You can also ask if future renovations have already been approved by the municipal authorities.
What Does The Agent Think About The Property?
A good estate agent will be honest with you if you ask them about any other concerns they have about the property that you may not already know about or noticed.
The estate agent will work with you to find the best property for you and not simply try to unload the first one you see! Try to find out how the estate agent really feels about the property and the area that it’s located in because they will have a lot of valuable information about the locality.
You might think that you can get a good feel for the neighborhood by simply walking around and using your common sense but this is not the case in Italy. As an Expat, and a relative newcomer to the area, there will be a lot of things that you won’t be able to tell from looking around and so the input of the estate agent is vital. Try to establish if there are any problematic neighbors, local issues and what the level of crime is. All these things can ruin your experience of living in the area, even if your house is nice!
Before I purchased the property in Italy, I only had a basic idea of the streets and the neighborhoods where the properties was located. My agent provided a lot of useful insights into the plus and minuses of each property.
Are The Sellers Willing To Negotiate?
Once you find a property that you would like to buy you should always ask the estate agent whether the seller is ready to negotiate on the price. Sellers often put their houses on the market at well over what they expect to receive and so negotiation is a common practise in Italy. You can save significant sums of money with some shrewd negotiations so make sure you find out what the estate agent thinks about this as well.
Have Any Major Works Been Done On The Property?
You should find out if there have been any major works on the property’s structure or foundations; and if so, why were they done? Is there an issue with sinking foundations or cracks opening up in the walls? Is the building structurally well made? This is important to establish in Italy where many properties were originally built hundreds of years ago and the structural problems have been covered over with plaster and paint rather than properly addressed.
You should also make sure that these changes have been approved by the city or the responsible local authorities.
How Much Are The Utilities?
One of the ongoing costs that you will have to handle after you have bought the house is your utility bills. As a general rule utility bills in Italy are fairly high but they also vary considerably from region to region. You should always ask your estate agent for a rough estimate of the monthly, or annual, utility bills for the property.
What Is Included In The Sale?
In many cases sellers in Italy remove all the furniture, light fittings, kitchen appliances, shower units and even the toilets! Therefore, it’s worth finding out what will be included with the purchase of the property. This also applies to any land, outbuildings or lots that are attached to the property.
What Do You Like The Most About The Property?
Remember, that your real estate agent will be seeing hundreds of properties a month, and thousands each year! This means that they have a keen eye for details and know exactly what makes any individual property stand out from the rest. It’s always worth asking your estate agent what they like the most about the property, as well as asking about potential problems.
Asking The Right Questions To the Estate Agent Is Important.
It’s essential that you ask the right questions before you commit to purchasing a property in Italy. The process of purchasing a house in Italy is not usually as transparent as it is in America, or elsewhere in Europe, so you have to be something of a detective to ensure that you get a good deal and avoid potential problems in the future.
The houses in Italy are often very old so you need to be more careful about checking their structural integrity and establishing the type of renovations that you may need to conduct after the purchase.
However, despite the problems and difficulties that you might face you can pick up some incredible bargains in the towns, cities and rural parts of the country.