This is an open invitation to dishonest sellers to ‘cut and run’. It is, of course, possible to check whether there are any outstanding debts on a property and this must be done by your legal advisor a few days before completion.
It’s recommended to have your finance in place before you start looking for a property and, if you need a mortgage, to obtain a mortgage guarantee certificate from a bank that guarantees you a mortgage at a certain rate, which is usually subject to a valuation.
Under Italian law, you can withdraw from a contract and have your deposit returned if you’re unable to obtain a mortgage. You will need to pay a deposit when signing a contract and must pay fees and taxes of between 10 and 20 per cent of the purchase price on completion, although resident first-home buyers pay considerably less.
It’s customary in Italy for buyers (and sellers) to under-declare the amount paid for a property, although this practice is illegal. If you under-declare the price, the authorities can re-value the property and demand that you pay the shortfall in tax plus interest and fines.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Italy from Survival Books.