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It is important to distinguish between a purchase proposal (“proposta di acquisto”) and a preliminary contract (“contratto preliminare”). The purchase proposal (link to a guide: ) is in fact a declaration by the buyer that he wants to purchase a certain asset at a certain price: usually it is a pre-printed form provided by the estate agency and is accompanied by the payment of a sum of money by way of a ''deposit''.
Once signed, the purchase proposal contains commitments that are already binding on the purchaser but in the meantime the seller is free to evaluate other offers and it is not certain that the deal will be concluded. So it is always better to enter into a preliminary contract since the purchase proposal commits only the party who has signed it. Once accepted by the seller the purchase proposal will automatically be converted into a preliminary contract.