Looking for a villa on Lake Garda today means finding the right professional to guide you in your choice with expertise and sector know-how. But where did the professional real estate consultant originate? Let’s take a look at how historic Brokers developed into our own consultants.

Brokers were already well known to the Arabs and Persians where they were respectively called ‘simsar’ and ‘samsar’ while in ancient Greece brokers were known as proxenètes, from which the word ‘proxenèta’, used from the Roman era to the Middle Ages, originated. The etymology of the word (from Arabic ‘simsar’) probably dates to 600 to 800 BC, a period in which Southern Italy was conquered by the Arabs.

The broker’s earliest function consisted of connecting up local people in response to requirements which were not always commercial while later on, in ancient Rome, the ‘proxenèta’ performed the role of ‘matchmaker’ and ‘mediator in family squabbles’. It was only later, thanks to the development of the Roman Empire, that brokers began to take on the role of business intermediaries.

Right from Roman times the role of the proxenèta was legally recognised and codified, as the Corpus Iuris Civilis and Corpus IurisIustinianeum both confirm.

Around seven hundred years would pass, however, before the role and functions of the broker were accorded new legal reference points with the birth of the new Comunes and, with the rapid increase in trade, the profession was of use in facilitating bargaining and took on the functions of a public official in many cases.

At this point, in addition to commerce, new auxiliary business professionals emerged and brokers in particular who, in common with other aspects of Comune life, began to be regulated by guild and civic statutes. The property broker’s profession took shape in this period and soon developed in the Lake Garda area.

On 1st January 1866 the Kingdom of Italy’s Commerce Code was drawn up and its legislation made brokers ‘middlemen’ and divided them up into two categories: public brokers with mandates and ‘middlemen in other types of mediation’, namely goods, insurance, ship rental and land and water transport brokers.

On 20th March 1913, law no. 272 established that the middleman’s profession should be free of the obligation to register on Chamber of Commerce registers with the exception of stockbrokers and those performing official roles.

In 1958 the requirement for brokers to register with the Chamber of Commerce was introduced: those registering for the first time were given the title of ‘business intermediary agents’.

Today, in our area of Lake Garda too, there are still many legacies of the past and there are still unqualified individuals working in real estate in Garda. It should, however, be noted that the laws are rigorous and only the professionally qualified can work in real estate intermediation.

It is no longer possible for a real estate agency to set up in business on Lake Garda - or elsewhere in Italy - without a Chamber of Commerce registered intermediary.