Italian notary – notaio

Italian notary – notaio

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Question:  What is the role of an Italian Notary public (Notaio) in Italian property transactions?

Answer:  Italian notaries are legal professionals who act as public officers in Italian real estate transactions. 

Property transfer contracts must be signed in front of a notary. As public officers, Italian notaries conduct formal document checks as well as confirm the identities of the buyer and the seller. Also, notaries check the parties’ respective powers and entitlement to be part of the transaction.

Notaries also have the duty to calculate the taxes applicable to the transaction, to collect them from the parties on completion (closing) and timely pay them on behalf of the parties.

After completion (closing) signing, the notary files the property title with the local Land Registry (Register of Deeds, or Conservatoria). After such filing, the transaction is officially public.

Once the taxes have been paid and the title deed has been filed with the Conservatoria, the notary keeps the original agreement of sale on their books and makes available certified copies for the parties and to any other subject who might have an interest.

Common practice holds that the notary is chosen and paid by the buyer. An important point to remember is that the notary acts as an Italian officer fulfilling an official role and does not work on behalf of the buyer or the seller, but serves as a neutral party.

Many times, especially in international transactions, because of language barriers and busy schedules, the parties meet the notary for the first time at the final signing where a one size fits-all agreement of sale is presented to the parties.

This often does not allow the buyer to complete the transaction in the most effective way, under an estate planning point of view, or might leave the seller exposed to liability for years after the sale.

It is strongly advisable that the parties discuss all legal aspects of the transaction with the notary in advance, or an independent lawyer, for proper advice, before signing the final sale agreement or, for even better results, before signing a purchase offer.

When buying a property, if you are not using a lawyer, your Italian real estate agent will likely suggest the name of a notary. Often the choice will go towards the notary that offers the lowest quotation. However, a choice based only on lowest cost is not always the best choice, especially when you end up with a notary who does not have extensive experience of transactions with non-Italian buyers. Before you engage just any notary, ask him/her a few questions to see if it is going to be a good fit for you and your deal.

Contact us to talk about your case, applicable circumstances, personal needs, and expectations. We will gladly advise you about the specific questions to ask a notary in your transaction.

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