The only essentials in the buying process are the offer and the final act (Rogito). The proposta and the compromesso are optional. If you are doing things by the book, you can do all three – proposta, compromesso and then the act. Or you can miss out the compromesso (usually only advisable if there is a short period of time between the proposta and the act), or the proposta (and go straight to the compromesso).
Proposta di Acquisto – proposal to purchase
This is a formal document with a bit of money attached which will take the house off the market while you sort out the next step of the buying process. If you buy through an agent, the money you put down as a deposit won’t even change hands – the cheque will sit in the estate agents office. What is important that you show you’re serious. However, the deposit you offer at this point is usually a ‘caparra confermatoria’ so you can lose it, or the seller has to give you double back if he finds a better offer. Usually the ‘trattativa’ – bargaining will have been done by the time you submit the proposal to purchase and the acceptance is a foregone conclusion. Occasionally they’re useful to push the seller in the right direction.
The form is similar to a compromesso, but a proposta is strictly a ‘carta privata’ – a private contract between you and the seller. It will state who you both are, what you are buying and what is for sale, with a price, a date by which the next step will take place, a date for the final act of sale, and the fact that there is an agent involved.
Usually a proposta di acquisto has an auto-expiry of 7 or 14 days. If you have received no answer by that time, you can assume the owner hasn’t signed. If they countersign the proposta it’s all systems go, and you need to get moving on the next step of the purchase process. If you don’t fulfill your side of the proposta at this point, the estate agent is obliged to hand over your cheque to the seller and you say ‘addio’ to one or two thousand euros.