If you decide to live here, buying a home will probably be the biggest and most difficult decision you will have to make.
The best way, if you can spare the time, is to get to know an area well before deciding to buy there. Negotiate a hotel room for a long stay or rent a place, and make
friends in the local bar.
Remember that accommodation will cost a lot less out of season and you'll be seeing properties in a less romantic light than in high summer when everything looks
When it comes to buying, it's surprising how rash and unbusiness-like many foreigners become when faced with a charming but tumbledown country cottage - remember to
remain detached, ask the right questions (ie. does the water dry up for the whole summer?) and, if you don't speak good Italian, have someone with you who does.
As with negotions anywhere in the world, don't appear over-enthusiastic if you intend to drive a hard bargain.
Having decided that you like a property, the first stage is the signing of a compromesso. This scrittura privata or "private contract" between yourself and the seller is a legally binding document and if you change your mind you will loose whatever deposit you have paid and usually be liable to pay an additional penalty. Deposits vary but are often around 10 to 20% of the agreed purchase price.
The compromesso will give details of exactly what it is you are buying including the particulars as recorded in the local catasta, the long-established
Italian "land registry". Make sure these details are correct and correspond to what it is you think you are buying before you sign the document.
At a time specified in the compromesso the final atto, or contract, will be signed in front of the local notaio, a public official who witnesses
Remember the notaio is not acting for any one of the parties - if you want to be sure that there are no nasty surprises hidden in the contract, that might, for
example, give rise to neighbour problems in the future, get a local lawyer, or avvocato, to act for you. At this stage you will normally have to hand over the balance of the purchase price and
pay any fees due to the notaio and estate agent, or mediatore.