What about the Exchange of Contracts?

The buyer may be requested to provide a formal written offer for the purchase of a property, which should be approached with caution, and great attention and possibly legal counselling should be obtained as the offer, if accepted, becomes a fully binding contract under Italian law.

The buyer may also be requested to put down a bank cheque to be held in escrow by a real estate agent in order to secure the offer (Proposta d’acquisto). In most cases however, the buyer and the seller upon reaching agreement on the terms of a sale would enter into a preliminary agreement (Compromesso) which has the legal effect of fully binding all parties.

The Compromesso does not transfer title but is meant to set out all details of the sale and enable the seller to gather the required property documentation. It also allows the purchaser time to prepare funds for the purchase.

Usually a deposit of 20% to 30% of the purchase price is exchanged between buyer and seller at Compromesso. Given the importance of the document the drafting is entrusted to a Notary, who is instructed (and paid) by the purchaser.
Upon reaching agreement between buyer and seller the buyer’s solicitor and/or surveyor will undertake initial searches, check for good title, check consistency with planning permission records and check for any agricultural pre-emption rights (if applicable), with a view to drafting a fully detailed Compromesso (which in certain circumstances may be conditional upon specific conditions being met).

Agent’s fees under Italian law are payable by both the buyer and the seller. The standard rate at this time is 3% +IVA for seller and 3% + IVA for buyer, sometimes payable in part upon the exchange of the Compromesso