All properties in Italy are "Freehold".
Property is acquired in Italy pursuant to a final sale contract that must be in writing and certified by a notary public (notaio). The notary has a monopoly for legislation of all land transfer documents. The notarized contract is then recorded in the public property registry of the judicial district in which the property is located.
When you have chosen your property and agreed on the price, if you find your property through an agency you will probably be expected to sign a proposal (proposta di acquisto) stating the price you intend to pay and the dates in which you want to finalise the transaction. It will be expected for you to pay a minimum deposit to demonstrate your solid intention of buying the property.
Upon acceptance on behalf of the owner, a preliminary sales contract (preliminare di compravendita or compresso) will be drawn up.
The final sales contract is almost always preceded by this preliminary sales contract. It has to be executed by the parties and must be registered at the tax office. It contains the essential terms of the transaction including the purchase price, the closing date, the intended plan of financing and any other conditions that must be fulfilled prior to the execution of the final sales contract (rogito).
At the time of its execution, the preliminary sales contract requires the purchaser to deposit with the seller a down payment of an agreed sum, usually from 20% to 30% of the price. This sum will be retained if the purchaser should breach the contract. If the seller refuses to proceed, the Civil Code allows the purchases to claim double the deposit amount.
It is advisable to pay any deposits by a bankers draft or a non-transferable cheque and only in the name of the owner. The final contract (rogito) is signed in the presence of a notary when the balance of the purchase is payable and the transfer effected.