Ciao Amici, and welcome to our online guide to buying a property in Italy!
We have found many guides regarding the buying process in Italy, yet we feel that an additional piece of unsolicited advice could be needed out there!
Buying a property in Italy is no easy task and several times it can turn into a nightmare unless you seek the assistance of a professional before you start shopping.
If you think that hiring a professional could be expensive, wait until you hire an amateur or try and do it yourself!
Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to buy a property in Italy, with the help of a pro.
- Can I buy a property in Italy?
- Hire professionals!
- Determine what you really need in a property
- Property price and additional costs
- Arrange a viewing trip
- Property checks
- How do I make an offer?
- Preliminary Contract
Disclaimer: All information in this article is provided as a general guide only and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. Accordingly Fine Tuscany will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.
Can I buy a property in Italy?
Many foreign citizens would love to buy a property in Italy, but not all of them can. The question is: can you?
First things first: The condition of reciprocity
Citizen from countries that are not within the European Union, can purchase a property in Italy only if the ‘condition of reciprocity’ is met.
What does this mean?
Making a long story short, if an Italian citizen can buy a property in your country, it is very much possible that you can buy one in Italy. However, conditions may change and we strongly advise to seek professional assistance to verify that you are elegible to buy a property in Italy.
Verification that said condition is met, can be carried out by an Italian Notary Public with the help of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cases in which it is not necessary to verify that the condition of reciprocity is met
Pursuant to Legislative Decree n. 286 of July 25th 1998, subjects officially recognised to be on an equal standing as Italian citizens, are:
Citizens of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Citizens of the European Economic Area: EU Member States and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Always check your eligibility status before making any commitment.
When buying a property in Italy, make sure you hire professionals to assist you throughout each and all phases of the buying process.
So, who are the professionals?
- The Real Estate Agent (do’s and don’ts when picking a name out of a bucket!)
- The Property Lawyer
- The Surveyor, and the Architect (in case of a property in need of renovation)
- The Notary Public
But let’s get a little more into detail and see how these pros can make a huge difference. For the better!
The ‘Real’ Estate Agent
Many estate agents and salespersons in Italy are not qualified nor licensed; be aware of the scammers! How do you recognise the real ones then?
Estate agents who are qualified and licensed are registered with their local Chamber of Commerce. Often their registration number is displayed on their website (indicated as N.REA…) and you can verify it by contacting the Chamber of Commerce directly. (Please check the footer of our website)
All estate agents and salespersons are required by law to be covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance. This not only protects estate agents and salespersons, who can be held legally liable for claims arising from wrongful acts (such as negligent acts, errors, and omissions or breaches of professional duty) committed during the performance of professional services, but it protects your interests also.
Not all working agents adhere to the same standards. Once it comes to choose your estate agent, make sure they are registered with one the following National Associations of Realtors: FIMAA, FIAIP, ANAMA or AICI. This is a further guarantee of strong work ethics and quality service!
Some estate agents will include many services in their fee, some others won’t. A good start will be asking your agent what is included and what isn’t.
A real estate agent will help you with the following:
- Property Search
- Negotiation the selling price
- Italian tax code
- Italian Bank account
- Preliminary contract
- Finding a surveyor and/or an architect
- Finding a foreign currency broker
- Finding a Translator and a Notary Public
- Final Deed of Sale
The Property Lawyer
Although it is not a legal requirement to engage a lawyer when buying a property in Italy, an experienced property lawyer can guide you through the complexities of Italian conveyancing and all related paperwork.
Real estate agents cannot provide legale advice and may not be in possession of all the facts about a property.
Entitled to brokerage fees only if a transaction is closed successfully, a real estate agent might not disclose information about a property to a potential buyer.
An independent property lawyer is the only one who can protect your interest.
When buying a property in Italy do not underestimate the importance of a Geometra (surveyor) or that of an Architetto (architect).
Unless you are looking for a property in need of renovation, a surveyor will suffice.
Appointing a Geometra is key. There are so many things an estate agent can ignore about a property and no matter the number of viewings, no one will be in the position to tell unless a proper survey is made.
Many home owners who are currently listing their properties for sale, may have carried out some work (demolished/built walls, added windows/doors, bathrooms etc) without no building regulation approval. Should that be the case, said properties would result ‘illegal’ and things could go pretty much down the… hill.
We recommend all our clients to have a full survey, including a structural one, carried out by their Geometra before making an offer on any property in Italy.
A surveyor will tell you if the property is good and sound before you sign any binding paper!
The Notary Public
The most common mistake done by non-Italian nationals is that the Notaio (Notary Public) is equal to a solicitor or an attorney. This is not the case. A Notaio is an impartial public officer licensed by the Italian State and cannot specifically protect the interest of one of the parties involved in the transaction.
A Notaio must adhere to strict rules laid down in the code of ethics and the law to ensure that the deeds are in compliance with the law, in accordance with the will of the people, and not affected by encumbrances or rights of third parties that the Notary did not warn about.
The Notary Public must ensure the identification of clients, the beneficial owner of the operation and report any and all suspicious transactions to the Financial Information Unit at the Bank of Italy. (Law on money laundering)
The Italian State relies on the Notary for the collection of taxes and for economically significant operations.
Appointing a Notary is a legal requirement when purchasing a property in Italy. Notary fees are to be paid by the buying party who is also free to choose the Notary they would like to work with. No Estate Agent can in any form impose a Notary to a buyer.
Determine what you really need in a property!
Browsing the internet, you will find that there is no shortage of housing options in Tuscany.
With so many properties up for sale, the real challenge is finding the one which best meets your needs.
Before embarking on a time consuming house hunt, try to visualise the type of property that you would like to call home. (Ok, now start downsizing a bit!)
A home is much more than a number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It is the place where you will spend precious time with the family, new and old friends, build memories, and relax.
Before instructing an agent or a property finder, it is fundamental that you clearly understand that your budget has a key role in your long list of must-haves.
Many prospect buyers underestimate the importance of the real estate mantra ‘Location, Location, Location’. Too bad because location has a huge impact on the price of a property!
What affects location, then?
- Distance from the sea, lakes, parks etc.
- Beautiful views
- Walking distance of shops, bars, restaurants, etc.
- Distance from an International airport
- Public transportation
- Low crime
Now when know what affects location, we should ask ourselves what else can affect the price of a property?
- Functional design
- Interior and exterior finishes
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Garage/private parking
- Swimming pool
- State of maintenance/renovation work
What’s important at this stage is to be realistic about your budget and to determine what you really need in a home in Tuscany.
Share a list of the features and benefits that you want in a home, with your estate agent.
Don’t forget, your estate agent’s time is as precious as yours and there are more chances that he’ll go that extra mile for you once he feels that you are wasting his time on useless searches.
Now, we don’t mean to burst your dream bubble, but the perfect property hasn’t yet hit the market, which means that at one point you will have to compromise.
Do you really need that third bedroom or that extra bathroom? oAnd what about that private garden you have on your list? Are you sure you are willing to lose a bargain property just because it doesn’t come with a swimming pool? Can’t you get one installed later, after the purchase?
Our advice? Determine your priorities and consider your future needs and costs.
Will you be relocating or will this be a holiday home? Bigger properties are not only more expensive when it comes to buying them, they are also more expensive to maintain. Let’s not forget that a house will not look after itself and gardens will need to be watered, which unless you will be relocating will translate into hiring someone to do it for you.
If you are looking for properties in need of extensive renovation, do consider that extensive renovation is no DIY project. It needs time, money, lots of patience, and planning permissions. You will need to surrender to Italian time, hire an architect and be emotionally and financially prepared for the unexpected.
This said, buying a house is not only about finances, square metres and pools. It’s also about finding the house that makes your heart pound.
Sometimes, the irrational decision, coming from some deep instinct, will be the best one to make!
Property price and additional costs
Prior the purchase
- Preliminary Contract – Registration fees
Upon the purchase
- IVA (VAT)
- Imposta di Registro
- Imposta Catastale
- Imposta Ipotecaria
- Agency Fees
- Notary Public
After the purchase
- Renovation (if required)
- Connection to the utilities (if required)
- Registration with the utility companies
- Condominium (if any)
- Building Insurance (in condominiums it is normally included in the annual costs)
- Home Insurance (not compulsory)
- IMU (Imposta Municipale Unica)
- TASI (Tassa sui Servizi Indivisibili)
- TARI (Tassa sui Rifiuti)
When looking at property prices through online listings, you should consider a few important things.
Firstly as a very general guideline, you should consider the following factors:
- is the property a resale?
- is the property a new build or an off-plan?
People will often believe that resales come a lot cheaper than new builds, and in a way that’s true as resales are not subject to VAT whilst new builds and off-plan properties instead are. However, when you are considering to purchase a house, a resale could often mean that some work might be involved, from an upgrade to a complete renovation. New builds and off-plans on the other hand will not require any additional work apart from buying and installing new lamps and a kitchen. Yes, kitchens and lamps are not included when you buy a new house.
Another element that will influence how much you will pay on top pf the selling price depend on the following factors:
- will you be applying to become residents?
- will this be a holiday home only?
If you are willing to become a resident within 18 months from the purchase (this must be declared in the purchase deed), both VAT and Purchase Tax will be significantly lower than if you are buying a holiday home. This significant reduction will not apply if you are buying a property that is registered at the Land Registry (Ufficio del Catasto) under the following categories:
- A/1 – Abitazioni di tipo signorili (high-end property)
- A/8 – Abitazioni in ville (villas)
- A/9 – Castelli e Palazzi di eminenti pregi artistici e storici (castles and properties of either artistic or historic importance)
By now you will probably be thinking that all those villas for sale in Italy will fall under the category A/8. Luckily you are wrong. Several villas under 1M euros are registered as A/2, which stands for ‘Residential Property’, so you can still apply for tax reduction if you are applying to become a resident.
Last update: July 28th.