A QUICK GUIDE TO BUYING PROPERTY IN ITALY

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The process of buying a home in Italy can be confusing to people unfamiliar with the process, but it is not as difficult as it appears at first glance. Before going through the process of buying a home, it is recommended that you work with a bank to understand what kind of mortgage you qualify for so that you don’t sign the compromesso, or preliminary contract, before being sure of your ability to come up with the funds for the home [4]. Even if you don’t do this before looking at a house, you will have to get a mortgage to pay for the home you’re buying at some point. A mortgage is an incredibly important part of this process and it can be complicated for a foreigner, so make sure that you work with a bank well in advance if you are a foreigner that wants to buy a home in Italy.

The first step in buying a home is finding a suitable home up for sale that fits your budget and needs. One important thing to note is that in certain regions in Southern Italy, there are tax breaks available for people repopulating areas once deserted. If tax breaks are appealing to you, it is something to look into when deciding on a home. It is recommended that you work with a property agent throughout the process of buying a home, and you also may need a translator if you don’t speak Italian to overcome the language barrier. A translator will add to the cost of buying a home, but it is very important that you understand what is going on throughout this process, so it is usually a good investment. Another thing to note, before making any offers on property or beginning the purchase process of the home, it is recommended that you obtain legal counsel, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process of buying a home in Italy. Sometimes the original offer to the seller, if accepted, can become binding [3]. It’s important that prospective buyers, if foreign, understand that Italian laws and the laws of their home country may not be the same surrounding home ownership. A lawyer can help people unsure of Italian law navigate the purchase process.

After finding a home that you wish to buy, the next step is to make absolutely certain the home is good condition and without defect. Visit the home in person and you may want to hire someone to come inspect the home professionally and ensure it is in good condition [4]. Once you’re sure you want to buy the home, the next step is negotiating a price and making an offer. After a price is agreed upon, then you need to retain the services of a solicitor or surveyor who will perform what is essentially a title search, which means they will make sure that the seller has the right to sell the property and that there are no issues surrounding the title of the home. Once these steps have been carried out, the compromesso can be drafted and signed.

The compromesso is a step that can be confusing to people unfamiliar with the process, especially foreigners. The compromesso is a preliminary contract, and it is binding. The compromesso stipulates a great deal of information about the sale, and the deposit. The deposit is also paid now, at the signing of the compromesso, rather than at the signing of the final contract. After signing the compromesso, you cannot back out without forfeiting the deposit and the seller cannot do so without paying you back double the deposit [2]. The deposit in Italy is also typically significantly higher than somewhere like America, for instance. Deposits set out in the compromesso are typically 20-30%, but can range even higher. In America, for instance, the average deposit is somewhere around 7% [1]. The massive deposit is something that potential home buyers need to be aware of well in advance, and again it is to be paid when the compromesso is signed, not when the final contract is executed. This document must also be registered with the authorities after its signing. In the compromesso, the date for signing the official contract will be set, which is usually a few months after the signing of the compromesso. Another thing to note, when the compromesso is signed you will usually pay the agency fees, which are the fees paid to the realtor, and the VAT (Value-added tax) on the property you are buying. The size of these fees will vary depending on your individual situation, but many times VAT taxes are around four percent and the agency fees vary but are often around three percent. Keep in mind that the VAT also depends on whether or not you are a resident in Italy, usually it is ten percent for non-residents as opposed to four percent for residents [2].

On the date specified in the compromesso, the buyer and seller will come together before a notary to sign the final contract [3]. Both the buyer and seller need to be present, but if you can’t be it is possible to sign over a power of attorney for this signing to someone before a notary, after which they can go in your place. If you need to do this, check with a lawyer about the specifics of the process since your presence, or an authorized agent’s presence, is required to complete the sale. Upon signing this contract you will owe the purchase tax, notary fees, and of course the amount owed to the seller. After this, congratulations! You will now own a house in Italy.

While home buying in Italy is a bit different from other places, the process isn’t too complicated and anyone can do it. If you need to buy a home in Italy, this guide should give you a basic understanding of the process and a realtor or lawyer can help you with the specifics of your situation.

Researched and written by: Nathan Martin, Intern at Family Law Italy from the University of Arkansas.

References:

Araj, Victoria. “Average down Payment on a House: Here’s What’s Typical.” Average Down Payment On A House: Here’s What’s Typical | Rocket Mortgage, 20 Jan. 2022, https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/what-is-the-average-down-payment-on-a-house#:~:text=The%20average%20down%20payment%20in,loan%20or%20a%20VA%20loan.

Editors, Casa Tuscany. “Italian Property Purchase Process.” Casa Tuscany, 6 Jan. 2020, https://www.casatuscany.com/purchase-process/#:~:text=The%20’compromesso’%20is%20a%20standard,registered%20with%20the%20tax%20authorities.

Editors, Knight Frank. “Guide to Buying Residential Property in Italy | Knight Frank.” Knight Frank, https://www.knightfrank.com/overseas-property/italy-overview/buying-in-italy.

Lončar, Zorica. “Buying Property in Italy as a Foreigner.” Wise, Wise, 25 July 2017, https://wise.com/gb/blog/buy-property-in-italy. 

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