Do Estate Agents have exclusivity on a property for sale?
By and large Estate Agents in Italy do not always have exclusivity on a property for sale. If they hold an ‘incarico’ (letter of engagement), then they have exclusivity for a limited amount of time; usually from 6 – 12 months with a roll on should the house not sell, and the vendor has not communicated to the Estate Agent that he/she wishes to remove the property from their sales portfolio at the termination of the contract.
What happens if one agent offers a property at a lower price than another?
Without that exclusivity, you will see the same property on several websites on offer for sale. As agents do not normally conspire with their competitors in marketing the properties, you may also see price differences for the same property. Yikes!
Should that be the case, and you are seeing the property with the agent who has the property at a higher price, let them know immediately of the discrepancy. Once they have overcome their embarrassment, they will of course offer at the same price as the competitor, having spoken with clarity, the situation to the vendor.
The discrepancy will not be the Agents’ fault but the Vendor whose complacency or ignorancy will without doubt be reprimanded.
The Golden Rule between Estate Agents
With or without a letter of engagement, the golden rule is, however, that should you decide on a property to purchase, then you must go through the same Estate Agent who accompanied you to the viewing or made the first introduction to you, even through enquiries. It would be unprofessional for an agent to show you a property that you had already booked to see with another Agency, that said, of course unscrupulous agents do exist.
The Estate Agent also referred to as the Mediator, publicizes their portfolio of properties in a number of ways.
- company website
- through partnered agencies or property finders
- periodic leaflets/brochures distributed locally
- international real estate portals
- magazines and sponsored journals
- advertising banners
- online magazines targeted at visitors to Italy
- affiliations with geometers/architects/builders
- through currency dealers
- properties available only by specific enquiries
- word of mouth or recommendation
- posters in the area with property under offer
Who's responsibility is it to collate the paperwork?
When an Agent agrees to market a property for sale, they have the responsibility of collating all the documents in relation to that property and should have them verified and made available for you to inspect. For documents that are missing or unavailable, they are equally responsible for obtaining them in the eventual case that you wish to purchase the property.
In reality, vendors and their Estate Agents will wait until they have a potential sale before obtaining all documentation required, therefore it is likely that the Agent will be prudent, and on behalf of the buyer, stipulate that any sale will be concluded on the condition that the “x” document is presented before the final deeds of sale are exchanged. This is quite normal practice.
Documents required for a sale
- original Title Deeds of ownership
- cadastral information with regards the buildings
- cadastral map of land
- copies of permissions for any works completed
- conditions of pre-emption rights if any
- conditions of servitudes if any
- mortgages on the property
- condominium responsibilities & expenses
- energy certificate
- building compliance certificate, if applicable
Time for Viewings
If an agent is approached with regards a possible viewing, they will organize viewings with the owner or the caretaker of the property during the period you have available. For this reason, it is important that you contact the Agent with good notice to give them time to prepare for your arrival.
If you just arrive on the doorstep in the hope that they will be able to organize an impromptu visit, you may be disappointed as it will depend on their availability and that of the owner or caretaker.
Language and Communication
Most Estate Agents speak English however, communication is variable. Often, I have heard people complain they do not get replies in the same day or even within what would be considered a reasonable time.
Should you find that one agent seems to reply quicker than another, stick with them or ask them if they can help in terms of contacting another agent who has other properties you are particularly interested in. Most private estate agencies are willing at this point, to work with their fellow colleagues, sharing any eventual sales commissions. The larger agencies and franchised agencies such as D’Amico, Gabetti, Tecnocasa or Professione Casa, perhaps are less willing.
We are just getting started…