European Real Estate: Comparing the Buying Process Across Italy, UK, Spain, France, Sweden, Croatia, and Turkey

European Real Estate: Comparing the Buying Process Across Italy, UK, Spain, France, Sweden, Croatia, and Turkey

Table of contents

European real estate buying can be a journey filled with many intricate details, offering a unique thrill, especially when the focus shifts to the vibrant European market. In this context, we will delve into an overview of seven distinct European nations, each presenting its own unique real estate scenario.

1. The Italian Charm – A Dream Home in Italy

Italy, with its historical cities and breathtaking landscapes, offers an enticing real estate market. In his book, “A Dream Home in Italy”, Alistair McLeod provides a detailed guide on acquiring property in Italy.

Book: A Dream Home in Italy by Alistair McLeod

1.1 Italian Real Estate Procedures

Primarily, the property buying journey in Italy consists of three stages – the proposal, the preliminary contract, and the final deed. The process begins with the “Proposta d’acquisto” or purchase proposal. This is a formal offer to buy, generally accompanied by a small deposit as a goodwill gesture. The second stage is the “Compromesso” or preliminary contract. This contract contains detailed terms and conditions of the sale and is legally binding. At this stage, a significant deposit is required, typically around 10-30% of the purchase price.

Finally, the “Rogito” or final deed is signed. This deed is prepared by a notary who verifies and manages the legal aspects of the transaction. The property title is transferred at this stage, and the balance of the purchase price is paid. It is important to note that all these documents must be written in Italian, and any translation is considered a mere guide, not legally binding.

In the Italian real estate market, a reliable “geometra” (a technical expert) is indispensable. The geometra ensures that the property meets all regulations and codes. Also, they can assist with surveys, estimates, and liaising with local authorities.

Remember, investing in Italian property is not merely about buying bricks and mortar. It’s about embracing the Italian lifestyle. So, whether it’s a rustic farmhouse in Tuscany, a stylish apartment in Rome, or a charming villa on the Amalfi coast, the key to successfully navigating the Italian real estate procedures is understanding the process and taking one step at a time.

2. The British Estate – Navigating the UK Real Estate

Alistair McLeod, in his book “Navigating the UK Real Estate”, dives into the nuances of the UK property market. The UK is known for its systematic property buying process.

NAVIGATING THE UK REAL ESTATE: Your Essential Guide to Buying a Home in Britain by Alistair McLeod

2.1 UK Real Estate Procedures

Firstly, the property search begins, usually using online platforms or through real estate agents. After identifying a suitable property, you need to have a clear understanding of the asking price and the property’s condition. At this point, arranging a survey to identify any potential issues with the property is crucial. It helps to negotiate the price and to avoid any unpleasant surprises after the purchase.

Once the property passes the survey, you can make an offer. If your offer is accepted, the legal process begins. Unlike other European countries, English law governs the process. Hence, the involvement of a solicitor is necessary to manage the conveyancing process – the legal transfer of the property from seller to buyer. They ensure all the legalities are handled correctly, and any issues with the property’s title are resolved.

The next step is securing a mortgage. The UK has a well-established mortgage market offering a wide range of mortgage options. After securing the mortgage and the solicitor’s go-ahead, the exchange of contracts occurs. This exchange marks the point of no return, after which the buyer is legally obligated to purchase and the seller to sell.

Finally, comes the completion day when the purchase price is transferred to the seller, and you can finally collect the keys to your new home.

Navigating through the UK real estate market is a journey that requires understanding of its rules and processes. However, with careful planning and armed with a comprehensive guide like McLeod’s, it can be a rewarding experience.

3. The Spanish Fiesta – Sunset in Spain

Spain is a country of sun-kissed beaches and vibrant culture. In “Sunset in Spain”, McLeod offers insights into the Spanish real estate scene.

Sunset in Spain - The Comprehensive Path to Your Dream Spanish Home by Alistair McLeod

3.1 Spanish Real Estate Procedures

Acquiring property in Spain involves a process that, while comprehensive, is clear and systematic. A well-documented procedure ensures transparency and security in all transactions, making the Spanish real estate market an attractive prospect for international buyers.

Before making a real estate purchase, it’s advisable to obtain a Foreigner Identification Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero or NIE). This is a mandatory requirement for all property transactions and can be obtained from the local police station or Spanish consulate.

Once a potential property has been identified and an agreement on the price has been reached, a pre-agreement or “Contrato de Arras” is signed. This is a legal contract that requires the buyer to deposit 10% of the agreed price as a down payment. If the buyer withdraws from the deal, they lose this deposit. On the other hand, if the seller backs out, they must return double the deposit to the buyer.

Next comes the sales agreement or “Escritura de Compraventa.” This contract is signed in front of a Spanish notary, who verifies the identity of the parties involved and the validity of the documents. At this stage, the buyer pays the remaining balance of the property price.

Following the signing of the “Escritura de Compraventa,” the buyer must pay the necessary taxes, which vary based on the type of property and its location. After these taxes are paid, the property is registered in the name of the new owner in the Land Registry.

The process of buying property in Spain might seem complex at first glance, but Alistair McLeod’s “Sunset in Spain” offers detailed insights that simplify the process, enabling potential investors to navigate the Spanish real estate market with confidence.

4. French Elegance – The French Homebuyer’s Guide

France is yet another European country with an intriguing real estate market. Alistair’s book, “The French Homebuyer’s Guide”, helps unravel the mysteries of French real estate.

The French Homebuyer's Guide - A Step-by-Step Path to Your Dream House in France by Alistair McLeod

4.1 French Real Estate Procedures

Buying real estate in France can seem a complex task to outsiders. But fear not, once you understand the fundamental aspects of the French real estate procedure, it becomes an achievable task.

The first step in the French real estate process involves identifying and securing a property. You can do this yourself or enlist the help of a real estate agent. It’s essential to remember that due diligence at this stage can save you a world of hassle later on. Alistair McLeod’s “The French Homebuyer’s Guide” is a great resource to help you navigate this terrain.

Once you’ve identified a property, the preliminary contract or “compromis de vente” is signed. This is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and the seller. At this stage, the buyer typically pays a deposit, usually around 10% of the property’s price.

The “compromis de vente” provides a cooling-off period of ten days during which the buyer can withdraw without penalty. If you choose to proceed, the agreement becomes binding.

The next significant step in the process is engaging a notaire, a French public official who handles real estate transactions. The notaire performs a crucial role in ensuring the legality of the property sale, handling everything from verifying the seller’s ownership of the property to confirming no outstanding debts are associated with it.

The final stage is the signing of the “acte de vente” or final deed of sale. This is a formal meeting held at the notaire’s office, where all the parties involved sign the document, and ownership is transferred.

While the process may initially appear daunting, with the right guidance and understanding, purchasing your dream home in France can be a smooth and rewarding experience.

5. The Nordic Retreat – The Nordic Homestead

The Nordic countries are known for their tranquility and breathtaking natural beauty. Alistair explores the Swedish real estate market in “The Nordic Homestead”.

Your Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Sweden by Alistair McLeod

5.1 Swedish Real Estate Procedures

When we turn our gaze to Sweden, buying a house here is refreshingly unique. Compared to the more regulated markets of the southern European nations, Sweden has adopted a more open, liberal approach to real estate transactions. This approach is exemplified by its relative simplicity, transparency, and the freedom it offers to both buyers and sellers.

Swedish law does not require a lawyer or notary to be involved in the property buying process. The property transaction can be directly managed by the buyer and seller, providing a higher degree of flexibility. A common practice is for both parties to use a real estate agent who is experienced in the intricacies of the Swedish property market and well-versed in local laws. The real estate agent is responsible for mediating the sale and preparing all necessary documentation.

Another unique aspect of the Swedish market is that there is no legal obligation to conduct surveys before buying a property. It’s entirely up to the discretion of the buyer. However, it is generally advised to have a professional carry out an inspection to avoid any unexpected issues down the line. After all, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Deposits are also handled differently in Sweden. Upon signing the contract, the buyer usually pays a deposit, typically around 10% of the purchase price. This is held in a client account until the completion of the sale. It’s important to note that, unlike other countries, this deposit is not refundable if the buyer decides to back out of the purchase.

In his book, “The Nordic Homestead”, Alistair McLeod provides further insights into the Swedish property market, guiding the reader on the specifics of the process, potential pitfalls, and helpful tips to ensure a smooth transaction.

Whether you are drawn by the Swedish charm, the love for its beautiful landscapes, or the simplicity of its real estate procedures, buying a home in Sweden offers an experience that is as unique as the country itself.

6. Croatian Adventure – The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Croatia

Croatia, a gem in the Adriatic, is gaining popularity among real estate investors. Alistair’s book, “The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Croatia”, delves into the intricacies of the Croatian property market.

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Croatia by Alistair McLeod

6.1 Croatian Real Estate Procedures

A fundamental step in the Croatian real estate procedure involves confirming the property title, which establishes ownership. It’s crucial to verify the legal status of the property, including the owner’s identity, potential liens, or other legal disputes. Engaging a local attorney is strongly recommended to conduct this investigation to avoid any future disputes or surprises.

Another aspect of the Croatian real estate process is understanding the ‘Pre-Contract’ and ‘Main Contract’ stages. The Pre-Contract is typically a precursor to the Main Contract and often involves a deposit. It sets out the intention of both parties, the terms of sale, and often secures the property for the buyer until the Main Contract can be finalized.

The Main Contract is the formal sale contract, which must be written in Croatian as per law. Non-Croatian buyers should ensure they fully understand the terms, often requiring a professional translator. Upon signing the Main Contract, the buyer is generally required to settle the remainder of the purchase price.

Lastly, registering the property at the Land Registry is the final step that legally formalizes the transfer of ownership.

McLeod’s guide is a valuable resource for understanding these procedures, helping buyers steer clear of potential pitfalls and ensuring a smooth transition into their dream Croatian home. The guide emphasizes the importance of understanding local laws, respect for cultural norms, and the benefits of engaging local professionals when purchasing property in Croatia.

7. Turkish Delight – Turkish Real Estate Treasure

Lastly, we visit Turkey, where East meets West, and the real estate market reflects this beautiful confluence. Alistair’s guide, “Turkish Real Estate Treasure”, provides an insightful view into Turkish property buying procedures.

Turkish Real Estate Treasure: Uncover the Secrets of Property Investment in Turkey by Alistair McLeod

7.1 Turkish Real Estate Procedures

The buying process in Turkey typically begins with finding the perfect property and negotiating a price, preferably with the aid of a trustworthy local real estate agent. Once a price has been agreed upon, a sale contract is drafted. This contract, which lays out the terms and conditions of the sale, should be read carefully and understood fully before it is signed. The involvement of a lawyer, though not mandatory, can prove beneficial in navigating the legal intricacies.

After the contract signing, the buyer must apply for a title deed, or ‘Tapu’, at the local Land Registry Office. Once granted, this deed serves as proof of ownership. The process concludes with the payment of all necessary taxes and fees, following which the property ownership is transferred to the buyer.

The Turkish real estate market offers a variety of properties, from ancient Ottoman-style homes to modern apartments. Each type brings its own set of rules, which are deftly explained in Alistair’s comprehensive guide. So whether you are enticed by the hustle and bustle of Istanbul or the serene beaches of Antalya, buying property in Turkey can be a rewarding and enriching experience.


European real estate, with its diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures, offers a rich tapestry of opportunities for potential home buyers and investors. However, the process of purchasing property in Europe can be as diverse as its countries. From the sun-kissed beaches of Spain to the serene beauty of the Nordic countries, from the rich history of Italy and France to the intriguing amalgamation of cultures in Turkey and Croatia, each country offers a unique set of procedures and experiences.

The work of Alistair McLeod, through his series of guides on buying property in these fascinating countries, sheds light on the intricacies of each process, easing the journey for those who dare to dream. These guides serve as a bridge, connecting you to your dream property in Europe, making the complex procedures understandable and the daunting tasks manageable.

Whether you are a first-time buyer looking for a home or an experienced investor diversifying your portfolio, understanding the distinctive elements of each country’s real estate market is crucial. So here’s to the exciting journey of navigating the realm of European real estate, where each step taken is a stride towards realizing your dream.


1. How does the real estate buying process differ across European countries?

The process of buying real estate varies greatly across Europe, primarily due to differences in local laws and regulations. Each country has its unique procedures and requirements, which can range from being quite straightforward, as seen in Sweden, to being more complex, as in Italy where all contracts must be written in Italian. Countries like the UK have a structured process with a transparent system, while Spain, France, and Croatia often involve notaries or real estate agents in their processes. Turkey stands out with its simplified process that allows direct transactions between the buyer and seller. These variations are skillfully captured in Alistair McLeod‘s series of books on European real estate.

2. What are some key considerations when buying property in Italy?

When buying property in Italy, there are several key factors to consider. As highlighted in McLeod’s book, “A Dream Home in Italy”, a primary consideration is the Italian language. All legal contracts must be in Italian, so hiring a translator or an agent fluent in Italian can be beneficial. It’s also crucial to be aware of the country’s unique legal and fiscal systems. Thorough due diligence is necessary, including verifying the property’s title, condition, and any potential liens or debts. Understanding the local culture and lifestyle is also important, as it can influence the property’s price and appeal.

3. What is unique about the Swedish real estate process?

The Swedish real estate process, as described in McLeod’s book, “The Nordic Homestead”, is known for its simplicity and transparency. Unlike many European countries, Sweden allows direct transactions between the buyer and seller, making the process more straightforward. However, hiring a local real estate agent can be helpful in understanding property laws and regulations. The agent can also help in negotiation and paperwork. In addition, Sweden’s property market operates on a ‘bidding’ system, making it unique compared to other countries.

4. Can a foreigner buy a property in Croatia?

Yes, foreigners can buy property in Croatia, but the process may be a bit more complex than for Croatian nationals. According to McLeod’s guide, “The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Croatia”, foreigners are required to obtain permission from the Ministry of Justice, which can take several months. However, if the buyer’s home country has a reciprocity agreement with Croatia, this process can be quicker and smoother. It’s always advisable to engage a reliable local real estate agent or attorney to navigate through the process.

5. Is buying property in Turkey straightforward?

The process of buying property in Turkey, as outlined in Alistair McLeod’s “Turkish Real Estate Treasure”, can be relatively straightforward. Turkey allows direct transactions between the buyer and seller, and while an agent isn’t mandatory, their expertise can be beneficial. Foreign buyers are welcomed, but there may be some restrictions depending on the buyer’s country of origin and the property’s location. Once a contract is signed, the buyer must apply for a title deed at the Land Registry Office. After payment of necessary taxes and fees, the property ownership is transferred.