Guide on how to buy in Italy

You have decided to buy a home in Italy? Well, here's some useful information and advices. If you're not Italian citizen, be aware that there are no restrictions on the purchase of real estate in this country.

Advice number one: do not improvise
Magazines and internet can be a useful first step to get an idea of the Italian real estate industry and of operators to contact.
The advice, however, is not to improvise. Locate a reputable agency that has experience in buying and selling property in Italy to foreign buyers.
It will be a fundamental guide in the search of your property, to optimize the time and avoid any error: the legislation of buying and selling real estate in Italy is very complex and changes frequently, to have a serious referent will allow you to make a serene purchase.

How to locate an agency that you can rely on?
These are some of the elements to consider when selecting a professional agency:

  • It's a regular Agency? Make sure that is properly registered on the Role of the Broker Agents of the Chamber of Commerce of its province and that on their website is indicated the relevant registration number.
  • Is part of relevant associations? Is not compulsory but many professional agencies are part of one of the two official Italian federations: FIAIP and FIMAA (practically equal to each other) which is further confirmation that the agency is registered and operate in an official way.
  • Is a well-established company? With some exceptions (there are excellent newborn agencies and longstanding agencies not in step with the times), the fact that an agency has been marketed for many years is certainly sign of solidity, experience and expertise.
  • Is organized to assist foreign clients? If you are not an Italian citizen, this is an essential element. Try to locate agencies that have their core business in Italy in assisting customers from other countries. Are organized with personnel able to speak English or other languages and already know how to best assist you.
  • Quality: how is the webpage, how are the properties being presented? The best agencies pose the same attention to every detail of their activities. The way they present their services and their properties can indicate the service quality that you can aspect.
  • Transparency: the properties prices are largely exposed? Do they provide complete information, comprehensive descriptions, proper photographs in number and quality? The agencies that work seriously have an assignment written and signed by the owner that guarantees even the buyer. Agencies that operate without a written assignment will have much more difficulties to advertise the property, to access all documents, to achieve adequate photo shoots and to expose the price.
  • Territory coverage: especially for those who do not already know Italy in depth, it may be advantageous to rely on an agency that can cover directly, or through its own network, more regions of Italy aiding the customer by presenting proposals in different areas.

Real estate portfolio: a good properties portfolio in terms of number and quality makes it possible to compare a wider range of proposals, develop a better knowledge of the market and make a more conscious purchase.


The buying process

The purchase proposal
The agency presented to you to some real estate, you have visited the most interesting and you've finally found the right one for you.
The next step is to formalize your interest through a written purchase proposal to be submitted to the seller that, if accepted, commits the parties to conclude the deal.
Casaitalia International is responsible for drawing up the proposal, indicating in it: the price offered, the method of payment (especially if you need a mortgage) and the date by which enter into the Preliminary sales and the final action of sale.

How long is my offer challenging?
The proposed purchase is usually valid for 10-15 days, after which, if the seller will not have signed for acceptance, decays, not producing any obligation between the parties.

The down payment to guarantee the purchase

To guarantee the commitment to complete the purchase, the seals acceptance of the proposal by the owner, the buyer will pay the account of the seller an amount equal to 20% of the proposed purchase price, as a deposit. If the owner fails to comply with the requirements of the proposal sales agreement, the buyer will be entitled to a refund of double the deposit paid.
Conversely, if the buyer withdraws from the contract, the owner will retain the deposit receipt.


The registration of the purchase proposal

Casaitalia will take care of the registration of the proposal with the Agenzia delle Entrate, to be done within 30 days after signing of acceptance.


The costs on acceptance of the proposal purchase
Upon acceptance of the proposal / preliminary, the buyer will have to bear the following costs:

  • payment to the seller of the amount concerning the confirmation deposit of 20% of the stipulated price;
  • real estate agency Commission, which amounts to 4% + VAT of the purchase price agreed;
  • the registration charge for an amount equal to 0.5% of the paid confirmation deposit; if payments on account are provided (and the selling party is not subject to VAT) should be added a 3% calculated on the amount of the advance payments;
  • the registration charge in a fixed amount of € 200.00 (to be shared in half with the seller);

the stamps, always in half with the seller: 16 Euro stamp each 4 pages (25 lines to front) for each registered copy of contract. Must then apply to each graphic attachment (such as floor plans, for example) a stamp of € 1,00.


The attainment of the Tax Code
If you are a foreign national, once the selling party has accepted your proposed purchase and before carrying out the mandatory registration, you must obtain a Tax Code from the Agenzia delle Entrate.
The Tax Code in Italy is an alphanumeric code with a fixed length of 16 characters, which is used to uniquely identify for tax purposes and administrative citizens, non-recognized associations, taxpayers and foreigners born and / or domiciled in Italian.
Casaitalia International will take care of this for you.

The preliminary sale and its transcription

The preliminary sale will be concluded by a notary public, who will transcribe it at the Conservatoria dei Registri Immobiliari dell’Agenzia delle Entrate, upon payment of a fixed transcription tax of 200 €, to which will be added the fixed transcription fees of 35 € and the notary's fee, which depends on the value of the transfer.

The final action of sale

The actual transfer of ownership occurs at the time of the final sale.
This must be signed by a notary public must, which is an officer of the Italian government and therefore unbiased, normally chosen by the buyer.
After making a general inspection of documents of origin confirming that the seller is the property owner, that third parties do not have a claim on the property, that everything is in order in terms of cadastral and mortgage planning, the notary will draw up a new contract where, in addition to names, dates, places of birth and social security numbers of the buyer and the seller will be required to indicate the following elements:

  • a detailed description of the property and its possible relevance, the address and the street number, the cadastral reference;
  • the agreed price of sale and payment method;
  • All building concessions and possible variations, amnesties, etc., related to the property and its appurtenances;
  • the town planning compliance;
  • compliance by installations;
  • accessibility certification;
  • the statement that the property is free of people, mortgages, easements, rights of third parties, etc., or specification of any easements, etc., imposed on the same;
    EPA should also be attached (energy performance certificate) for all residential properties.

Historic buildings: the constraints of cultural heritage

Not all historic buildings are subject to the constraints of the Soprintendenza ai Beni culturali (the government department in charge of cultural heritage); however, in the case that the property is, it will be necessary to make provision in the deed for the law which offers the right of first refusal to the State, at the same price.

Italy has a great many historic buildings, and the likelihood in which the State would exercise its right of first refusal is very slim.

The notary will send the public deed of sale to the Soprintendenza, indicating that the building is subject to the constraints of cultural heritage, upon which the time period in which the Soprintendenza can respond (60 days) will begin. If they do not respond, this means they are not interested.

After 60 days have elapsed without the State having exercised their right of first refusal, the Parties will go back to the notary to sign a document declaring fulfilment of condition precedent. In this document, the Parties basically declare that the State has not been in touch with them, therefore the property can be signed over to the buyer and the final payment (deposited at the notary’s office at the time of the deed of sale) transferred to the seller.

In the event that the State does exercise its right of first refusal, any money which the buyer has given to the seller in the meantime will be returned to them, without interest or penalties.

Transcription of the act of sale
The act of purchase will be transcribed by the notary must within 20 days of signing it at the Real Estate Registry of expertise.
The cost of the transcript of the act will be quantified by the notary public and it must be paid at the signing of the act.
After the successful record of the document to the Real Estate Registry, the buyer will receive a certified copy of the Notary Act of trade.

The costs of the final purchase

The costs of the final act of sale shall be borne by the buyer and are paid to the signing of the act itself.
They are:

  • the balance of the agreed purchase price to the seller;
  • the balance of the notary's fee;
  • the balance of fees relating to the purchase and the costs related to the transcript (payable directly to the notary).

N.B. The cost of the notary varies in relation to the sale price. It is advisable to request a quote for the parcel notary once handed over documents for the preparation of the act.

The fees related to the sale
The fees related to the sale depend on whether the seller is a private individual, a company or a construction or renovation, and also depending on the type of purchase: first or second home.

In the case of purchase as "first house" benefits are provided as long as it is a residential property and that does not fall in the category called "luxury".

The price-value rule
In the most common case, in which both the buyer and the seller are two natural persons (individuals), and the good object of sale is an estate for residential purposes (villa, apartment etc....), the buyer may require the application of the rule of the price-value for which will be authorized to pay the taxes related to the sale by calculating not the actual selling price (that will be declared in act) but on the cadastral value which is normally much lower.


Specific cases:

When the seller is a private person, the buyer will pay:

  • the registration tax of 9% of the cadastral value (equal to the cadastral revalued income of 5% and multiplied by 120); This tax will drop to 2% of the cadastral value (equal to the cadastral revalued income of 5% and multiplied by 110) in case of purchase as "first home " provided that it is not a dwelling place of luxury;
  • the mortgage tax of 50 €;
  • the cadastral tax of 50 €.

If the seller is a construction or renovation company and sell within 5 years after work completion, the buyer will pay:

  • sales tax of 4% or 10% depending on whether the House is or is not the first home, or 22% if the house is luxury;
  • the fixed registration tax of 200 €;
  • the mortgage tax of 200 €;
  • the cadastral tax of 200 €.

If the seller is a construction or renovation company and sell within 5 years after work completion, if you do not require the application of VAT, the buyer will pay:

  • the registration tax of 9% of the cadastral value (equal to the cadastral revalued income of 5% and multiplied by 120), if not a second home or luxury home; this tax will drop to 2% of the cadastral value (equal to the revalued cadastral income of 5% and multiplied by 110), if is the "first home";
  • the mortgage tax of 50 €;
  • the cadastral tax of 50 €.

N.B. To take advantage of reduced taxes for the purchase of a property as a "first house" it is necessary that:

  • the property does not fall, according to the legislation, in the luxury category;
  • The property is located in the municipality in which the purchaser is resident or in which commits to establish residency within 18 months after the conclusion of the notarial deed of sale;
  • the buyer does not own, or have the right of usufruct, use, housing or bare ownership of another property in the municipality in which is located the property to be purchased;
  • the purchaser is not the owner, even for partial shares or legal communion with the spouse, on the whole national territory, has property rights or bare ownership, usufruct, use and habitation on other residential home acquired, even by the spouse, for which has already been taken advantage of the tax benefits for first home.

The fees for the acquisition of agricultural land:

  • the registration tax of 12% calculated on the actual selling price (only relative to the ground) indicated in the notarial act;
  • the mortgage tax of 50 €;
  • the cadastral tax of 50 €.

Technical verifications of the property
Casaitalia, already in the acquiring stage, analyzes the ownership documentation and requires the owner to instruct its own technician to carry out a general inspection of the property and to engage to any discrepancy of the regularization.
The buyer who deems it necessary can, however, delegate a reliable technician (or Casaitalia can suggest a few) to maintain at its own expenses a due-diligence on the property.

If you do not speak Italian it is necessary that the purchase / pre-sale proposal and the final act of sale, to be translated into your language.
The purchase / pre-sale proposal of sale will be translated for free by our agency, as defined by the act of sale, the notary will instruct a licensed professional for the translation. The cost borne by the buyer for the translation of the Act can amount to an average of 500 Euro + VAT, payable to the notary upon signing of the Act.

The first steps after the purchase
Immediately after the purchase of the property, you will need to:

  • Transfer utilities in your name (electricity, water, gas, telephone and internet) at the handlers. It is recommended that you obtain from the seller, a copy of the latest invoices received. Casaitalia will provide assistance to help you in the process of transfer of utilities;
  • Communicate to the municipality in which the property is located, the property's parcel data, in order to determine the amount of the fee for the disposal of municipal waste, etc...;
  • In the case where the property acquired was part of a condo, you will need to contact your administrator.