How To Buy a House in Italy : FAQ, Documents And Tips

With a rich history, vibrant culture, delectable food and wine, and a charming Mediterranean climate, Italy offers something for everyone. Many people around the world dream of moving to Italy, whether it’s for a vacation home in Venice or a family residence in Florence.

Before relocating to Trieste, Rome, Naples, or anywhere in between, consult this guide: we will discuss the process of purchasing a home in Italy as a foreigner and how to find properties for sale in the country.

Is it Possible for a Foreigner to Buy a House in Italy?

Yes, the majority of foreign citizens can purchase a home in Italy, although non-residents from specific countries may face certain restrictions.

EU citizens have the freedom to buy property in Italy. The same applies to citizens from countries that have bilateral agreements with Italy concerning property purchases.

In cases where no agreement exists, Italy applies the reciprocity rule to permit foreign acquisitions.

According to the reciprocity rule, if an Italian is allowed to purchase property in your country based on its regulations regarding foreign property ownership, then you can buy property in Italy.

Citizens from the US, UK, Canada, and China, among others, face no restrictions when purchasing a home in Italy.

For Swiss nationals not residing in Italy, certain restrictions apply, similar to the limitations placed on Italian citizens buying property in Switzerland. Non-resident Brazilian citizens face restrictions on acquiring rural properties.

However, if you become a legal resident in Italy before buying a property, no restrictions apply.

What factors should you consider before purchasing property in Italy?

When considering a property purchase in Italy, it’s important to address both minor details and big picture topics, such as your preferred location and property type.

Begin your property search by asking yourself five key questions to help guide your decision-making process.

  1. What is your purpose for buying? Clarify your reasons for buying property in Italy. Are you seeking better weather, a holiday home for family gatherings, a rental investment, or a guest house business? Or perhaps you simply want to experience living abroad without regrets later in life?
  2. How will you use the property? Consider your wants and needs for your Italian home, as they will influence your choice of location and property type. Whether you desire a nearby airport for weekend visits, a low-maintenance property for investment purposes, or a property in a tourist-friendly region, your preferences will guide your search.
  3. What are your property requirements? Determine your non-negotiable property features to help focus your search and assist your real estate agent. Consider factors such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, proximity to a beach or pool, architectural style, and outdoor spaces like terraces or gardens.
  4. What are your property deal-breakers? Identify the aspects you wish to avoid in a potential property to save time and streamline your search. Consider factors such as garden maintenance, proximity to tourist resorts, the presence of an expat community, and accessibility to public transport.
  5. What is your budget? Establish a realistic budget to avoid disappointment during your property search in Italy. Keep in mind that the exchange rate you receive may differ from the interbank rate, so allow for fluctuations in your budget. Familiarize yourself with the market by reading finance guides and property buyer’s guides to make informed decisions.

How to get your Codice Fiscale and Opening an Italian Bank Account

To buy property in Italy or open an Italian bank account, you’ll need a Codice Fiscale. This number is issued by the Agenzia della Entrate (Italian Revenue Agency) under the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy. To apply for a codice fiscale, complete a form and present your passport.

An Italian bank account may be necessary for your property purchase, as notaries might require a banker’s draft from an Italian bank for the transaction. But don’t worry, we got you covered on both the Codice Fiscale and bank account with our Property Finding in Trieste service!

Choosing the Right Italian Property Finder

Moving can be a complex and stressful experience, especially when dealing with language barriers and differing legal systems in Italy. To make the process smoother, consider hiring a team of specialists.

An English-speaking solicitor can help you navigate the legal aspects of buying property in Italy and address issues like inheritance. If you anticipate any pre-purchase issues, such as boundary disputes, outstanding debts, lack of planning permission, or shared ownership, engage a solicitor for early checks to resolve potential problems before spending any money. If you can’t attend the final completion at the notary’s office, consider drafting a special power of attorney allowing the solicitor to represent you.

Evaluate estate agents based on the following criteria:

  1. Accreditation: Ensure the Italian estate agent is professionally accredited to avoid legal issues later. Confirm their licensing to sell property.
  2. Proactivity: Research and contact potential agents before visiting Italy to view properties. Test their responsiveness and eagerness to help by sending them a brief of your property requirements and assessing their response time and relevance.
  3. References and availability: Don’t hesitate to ask for references or test their accessibility by calling or emailing them. Inquire about their local area knowledge, including medical services and schools.
  4. Understanding of your needs: A good agent will suggest suitable properties that meet your criteria and budget. They should be knowledgeable about the Italian property buying process and provide information about your desired area and any nearby alternatives.
  5. Communication: Fluent communication with your Italian estate agent is essential to navigate the complexities of property buying. Even if you’re proficient in Italian, a bilingual agent can help you understand unfamiliar terminology and ensure you’re informed every step of the way.

The Importance of the Notary

The property buying process in Italy differs from the UK and some European countries. While it’s essential to hire a solicitor in other nations to manage your interests during a property purchase, in Italy, a notary often assumes this responsibility.

By law, property transfer contracts must be signed in the presence of a notary. As public officers appointed by the Italian Ministry of Justice, notaries act as independent third parties for both the seller and buyer. They ensure the property conveyance complies with legal requirements in the best interests of both parties, particularly the purchaser.

The Notary’s Role

Before signing the deed and transferring the property, the notary conducts several investigations. A diligent estate agent may have already performed extensive checks, but the notary still carries out their own. If everything is in order, a straightforward purchase can be completed in about six weeks.

The notary verifies that:

  • The seller genuinely owns the property.
  • No mortgages or foreclosures are recorded at the territorial offices of the taxation authorities.
  • No constraints exist, such as the right of first refusal or covenants for assets classified as historic, artistic, or archaeological.
  • The previous owner has paid all service charges.
  • The cadastral plan matches the property’s actual state.
  • The property complies with building and planning permissions.
  • The correct taxes are applied to the purchase. The notary, trained in tax matters, may suggest tax-saving solutions, such as purchasing a primary residence. They also collect funds for taxes and duties, which are paid to the taxation authorities upon deed registration.
  • Rules protecting buyers of under-construction properties have been followed.
  • The property’s energy performance complies with national and regional regulations. The seller must provide the buyer with a copy of the Italian energy performance certificate (Attestato di Prestazione Energetica or APE).
  • Regulations regarding money laundering, payment traceability, and real estate agency commissions have been observed.

The notary also assists with signing the preliminary contract and final deed, handling fund transfers for payment, and registering the sale with the authorities.

Thanks to our experience in the field, we already work with several notaries who are experts in buying and selling for foreigners and can assist you throughout the process.

Organizing a Property Viewing Trip to Italy

Once you’ve determined your desired location, the type of property you want to purchase, and have hired an estate agent, it’s time to plan a viewing trip. Visiting without the pressure of having to make an immediate purchase allows you to explore the local area, interact with potential neighbors, visit shops, dine at restaurants and cafes, and explore attractions.

Duration of the viewing trip

To make a well-informed decision, give yourself enough time to ensure the area and property are right for you. Schedule your viewing trip to last between 4–7 days, allowing sufficient time for exploration and potential follow-up actions.

Timing your viewing trip

If possible, visit during both off-season and peak times to get a feel for the area throughout the year. Off-season trips may offer more attention from estate agents and vendors, possibly resulting in better deals and easier property viewings. Avoid planning trips during public holidays to ensure accessibility to local businesses.

Where to stay during the trip

Instead of a hotel, consider renting a property in your target area to better understand daily life there. This will help you become familiar with the local community, amenities, costs, and any potential nuisances like noise or flight paths.

Making the most of your trip

To maximize your viewing trip, work with a competent estate agent who understands your requirements. This will help ensure you only visit properties that match your needs and budget. Utilize your agent’s knowledge by asking questions during the trip, and take photographs and notes of each property for reference later.

The Process of Buying a House in Italy

With a team of property professionals backing you up, your finances in order, and a few property viewings completed, there’s a high likelihood that you’ve narrowed down your Italian property search to one or two homes you adore. Now is the ideal time to begin considering making an offer on your dream home — here are some pointers for success.

The Offer

Initially, you will discuss the price verbally with the estate agent. You can then create a purchase proposal (proposta di acquisto), which is a declaration by the buyer that they want to buy the property at a specific price. Once signed, you commit to purchasing the property. However, the seller is not yet obligated to accept.

The Negotiation

Negotiating is crucial for successfully making an offer in Italy. Avoid appearing too eager, as the seller might try to take advantage. On the other hand, don’t appear too disinterested — show some enthusiasm. It’s similar to playing poker, so you need to gauge the seller’s emotions. In some instances, you may need to express your love for the home, while in others, you might need to remain cool.

Signing the Preliminary Contract

When making an offer, you might have signed a purchase proposal, committing you to buy if the offer is accepted. Once the seller accepts, the purchase proposal should be converted into a preliminary contract (contratto preliminare), also signed by the seller. In the Italian buying system, this is a proper contract that obligates both parties to sign the final contract.

The preliminary contract specifies the main transaction elements, such as the sale price, property identity, address, plot numbers, a detailed description using information from the Land Registry, and the final contract date. It is not mandatory for a notary to draft the preliminary contract, but it may be helpful to have one clarify some terms. Once the seller signs it, they accept the offered price and commit not to sell the property to anyone else.

At this point, you will pay a deposit (caparra) of around the 10% of the final price, typically. Under standard contract conditions, if either party backs out, the other party has the legal right to seek compensation. The buyer could claim their deposit back, plus the same amount again if the seller backs out. If you, the buyer, back out, you lose your deposit.

If all required paperwork is in order, you could skip the preliminary contract and proceed directly to the final purchase deed. This is where the notary comes in.

Legal checks by the notary

By law, the notary acts as an independent third party for both the seller and buyer, ensuring that the property conveyance meets all legal requirements. After defining the nature of the deed to be drafted, the notary must perform a series of legality checks to ensure the contract’s durability and inviolability.

Your solicitor (if you’ve hired one) and the seller’s will collaborate with the notary to schedule the buying process. First, they will conduct formal document checks on the property, including ownership, land boundaries, rights of way, and existing mortgages. Next, they will set a date for the deed of sale (rogito) to be signed in person by both parties at the notary’s office.

Transfer of title

The seller and buyer attend the notary’s office to witness and sign the public deed of sale (atto pubblico di compravendita, also called rogito). You must take your passport, codice fiscal (tax code), mortgage documents, and your marriage certificate, if applicable. If you are unable to attend in person, you can be represented by your solicitor.

If you aren’t fluent in Italian, a translator must assist in translating the entire document and also read it through with you alongside the notary. Once read, the three copies of the contract must be signed by everyone in front of the notary, and then signed by the notary.

Paying through the notary

After the final deed is signed, the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller, usually through an Italian banker’s draft or a bank transfer. The safest way to transfer the money is through a notary’s escrow account, which is a bonded client account in which the notary can receive funds for the payment of property and hold it safely until it’s time to make the payment to the seller.

The notary will hold funds until the deed of the sale has been filed and registered, thus providing protection to the buyer in the period between signing the deed of sale and its registration. The notary may ask an additional charge for this service, typically about €200.

You now receive the keys. The notary must then carry out the registration of the deed with the taxation authorities and pay the relevant taxes on your behalf. The deed must be filed in the public register. This is required by law so that everyone can see who owns the property and if it is subject to mortgages or encumbrances. The land registry is also updated with the cadastral registration.

Where To Buy a House in Italy?

Trieste, an alluring gem nestled in the northeastern corner of Italy, is a city that beckons those seeking to own a piece of this exquisite region. This enchanting city is a dream destination for anyone looking to invest in a home away from home, offering a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty that is truly unparalleled. With its strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and Central Europe, Trieste is a melting pot of diverse influences, creating a unique ambiance that enchants both residents and visitors alike.

One of the most compelling reasons to buy a home in Trieste is its breathtaking coastal setting. The city’s captivating position along the Adriatic Sea provides stunning seaside panoramas and easy access to pristine beaches, making it a paradise for sun-worshippers and water enthusiasts. Additionally, Trieste boasts an impressive marina, perfect for sailing aficionados looking to explore the captivating waters of the Mediterranean.

The city’s vibrant history is another enticement for potential homeowners. Wandering through Trieste’s labyrinthine streets, you’ll be transported back in time as you encounter remnants of Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Austro-Hungarian rule. As a result, Trieste is an architectural wonderland, featuring an eclectic mix of styles that range from neoclassical to art nouveau, making it a visual feast for history buffs and art lovers alike.

Trieste also boasts a thriving culinary scene that reflects its multicultural heritage. Here, you’ll savor dishes that fuse Italian, Austrian, and Slavic flavors, providing a gastronomic experience that is sure to delight your taste buds. Coupled with the region’s world-renowned wines, Trieste is a true food lover’s paradise.

Moreover, Trieste’s affordability is a significant advantage for prospective buyers. Compared to other Italian cities, such as Rome or Venice, Trieste offers a more affordable cost of living without sacrificing quality, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to experience La Dolce Vita without breaking the bank.

In summary, Trieste is a captivating city that promises an exceptional lifestyle. Owning a home in this beautiful coastal paradise offers the perfect blend of history, culture, and natural splendor, making it an irresistible choice for anyone looking to invest in a property in Italy. Don’t miss the opportunity to own a piece of this enchanting city and experience the magic of Trieste for yourself!

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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