Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nitty gritty and boring details of our otherwise exciting Italy home purchase

Our rental house in the USA has sold, and we will be changing our conditional offer to purchase the house we want in Montecarlo into an unconditional offer. It’s starting to look like this game is in the bag! That part is exciting. Taking care of all the details is not.

The sale of our house could not have gone more smoothly. I trust the woman who made the offer as if she were my own sister, and, further, I feel as if I have known her for all of my life. In fact, she is my sister. She will keep it for the time being as an investment, so the renter will have a chance to stay put—which he wants to do—and Linda will not have to worry about looking for a good renter. Plus Linda is kind of getting a two-for-one deal, because now that she has cleared the way for our purchase here, she will have a house to use in Italy whenever she wants as well.

We have cleared a few more hurdles in the last couple of weeks. We selected a notaio, on the recommendation of cousin Simone Spadoni. A notaio takes care of all the legal work in transferring the property and recording all the proper documents and paying all the taxes. Our geometra has examined the house for soundness and checked to assure that all modifications made have been done with the proper permits.

Since we want both of our names to be on the title, Lucy and I went to the Agencia Entrate in Pescia to get her codice fiscale, the equivalent of a social security number, something I had obtained with the help of a friend five years ago. Our effort was a little frustrating, as I explained to the clerk what we needed and why, and several clerks huddled together and told us that our notaio would have to be the one to submit the proper paperwork. I failed to see the reason for this, but since we already had a notaio, I went home and e-mailed him copies of both of our passports and told him what the clerks told us. He e-mailed back a letter to take to the agency that basically repeated exactly what I had already told them. The letter on his official stationery and listing his official credentials did the trick, and we were given Lucy’s codice fiscale in about 10 minutes.

The next challenge is getting money transferred to our Italian bank to make the first payment, which is due April 25. I spent almost a day trying to figure out how to do this in the fastest way, because after we told the real estate agents that we were ready to move ahead with the purchase, they set up a meeting with the notaio for next Monday, giving us only a week to get the money here instead of almost three weeks. Our bank in Gig Harbor, which had initially said the transfer would be no problem, now said we needed to be present to sign and set up an agreement with the bank in Italy before any wire transfer could be made. Us flying to Gig Harbor was out of the question.

Then I worked with Western Union, and I was told on the phone that I could transfer only $5,000 at a time, though I could do multiple transfers in a day. When I went online to try this out, the website said I could only transfer $2,999 and only one time a day, unless I set up a business account. Doing this required filling out some forms and e-mailing some documents. One of the documents required a guarantor from the United States to verify that I was who I said I was, and only people in certain professions were qualified. I started the process but continued to look at other options.

A new business called TransferWise looked promising, so I set up an account and started filling out an online form. Then I received a message that the company was not yet authorized to operate in the state of Washington. A TransferWise representative told me that Washington was one of three states where they were still waiting for all the paperwork to be approved. Could I use my Capital360 account, which was in another state? No, because my address was in Washington.

I could have my son Randall make the transfer from Washington DC or Maryland, but the problem would be getting him the money quickly. It would take perhaps three days to get the money to his account, and then another four days to get it to my bank in Italy. I needed it there faster.

After initially giving up on TransferWise, I realized that daughter Lindsey is living in Oregon, and my name is still on her bank account, so I could instantaneously transfer money to her. TransferWise operates in Oregon, so I asked her to set up an account and do the transfer. She started the process, but it will still take at least three days for the money to get into the bank account of TransferWise. We hope the process will take less than a week.

In the meantime, we met with one of the real estate agents Wednesday and found out that the sellers want some minor changes in the way the paperwork is put together, so we now don’t need the money by next Monday after all. The deadline is back to April 25, so the pressure is off. I’m sure the transfer will take place by then. Now it is back to a waiting game, because we have done about all we can do for now. We will meet with the notaio on Tuesday to sign some papers, but otherwise everything looks like smooth sailing. We will make the final payment and get the keys to the house in late October, and we have booked a flight already to come here for a couple of weeks. After that, we will continue to come for about three months a year, as we are doing now—but with the possibility to come any time we want with a guaranteed place to stay. And a guest bedroom for friends who want to visit!

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