A Google search on the subject of buying a house in Italy as a foreigner will give you a multitude of information – some of it accurate, some of it not. There will be success stories, and an equal amount of off-putting stories that may make you reconsider. As people who have bought and restored a house in Le Marche, Italy, and navigated ourselves through the process, we are in an excellent position to give you unbiased advice and information on what to expect.
Read on for first-hand information on the entire house buying process, and how we are assisting anyone wishing to buy a house in Italy – it is not as complex or difficult as you might have heard. The main thing you will learn from this post is the importance of being able to communicate in Italian, something that we offer to save our clients money on translators fees.
OK, for ease, think of it as a recipe!
To buy a house in Italy as a foreigner…
YOU WILL NEED:
1. A notary
2. A pen with plenty of ink and a good signature
3. A certain amount of patience
4. The right people to make things smoother and keep your stress levels low! Either us at D&G Design, or a translator
5. Plenty of wine (which is fortunately very cheap in Italy!)
STEP ONE: OBTAIN A CODICE FISCALE This is an Italian social or national insurance number. A straightforward process that, after filling in forms at the office of entry, can be obtained on the spot.
STEP TWO: OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT Now that you have your codice fiscal, you can open an Italian bank account, which you will need to transfer funds for the purchase. Just like everywhere else, there are a number of banks offering a variety of accounts, so research the best options for you. We opened an account easily and the staff at our bank went though their various accounts and offers, and we chose the one that suited us best.
STEP THREE: MAKE A FORMAL OFFER ON THE PROPERTY Once you have found the house that you want to buy in Italy, make an offer of purchase (proposta di acquisto) in writing. If the owner accepts your offer, they will confirm this in writing and agree not to sell the property to anyone else before a certain date, giving you time to have checks against the property done and transfer funds to your Italian bank account. No money is handed over at this stage. If you’re buying through a real estate agent, they may offer this service. If not, we advise that a notary handles this for you.
STEP FOUR: CADASTRAL CHECKS Check the deeds of your chosen property at the land registry office (Conservatoria e Catasto). As you will need a notary for the next steps, bring one in at this stage (if you haven’t done so during step three), and have them earn their money! The notary will check that the property is legally registered, that it belongs to the person who is selling it and that there are loans against it.
Note: D&G Design work with real estate agents who have carried out these checks on properties that they list.
Reasons: As many houses for sale in Italy have been inherited, and owners are desperate to get them off their hands, a property may have multiple owners (brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.) To avoid problems later on, a registry check at this stage will tell you if the person selling the property is legally entitled to – i.e. That all of the owners have agreed that they want to sell it.
Any debts against the property will be inherited by the purchaser, so you need to know at this stage that all is well.
READ MORE: BUYING A HOUSE IN ITALY – THE COSTS
STEP FIVE: PRELIMINARY AGREEMENT OF SALE (Compromesso) Once you (and your notary) are happy that its fine to proceed with the purchase, make a preliminary offer (compromesso). This will be drawn up by the notary and is a legally-binding document which states the agreed sale price, the completion date (Rogito) and any information and rights the property has. Should the owner accept it, this acceptance too is legally binding.
Once this contract is signed, a deposit of around 10% (caparra confirmatoria) of the purchase price will need to be paid. We paid our deposit in the form of a cashiers cheque, directly to the notary, who held it in an account for the seller. This isn’t a legal obligation, and some sellers prefer to have the deposit paid directly to themselves.
Note: Should the seller change his or her mind and no longer want to sell after the compromesso has been signed, then he or she is legally required to hand you back twice the amount you have paid. So, if you’ve paid a €10,000 deposit and they pull out, they have to give you back €20,000. As with all deposits, if you change your mind at this stage then you forfeit the deposit you have paid. The completion date is generally around 1 – 3 months after the deposit has been paid.
STEP SIX: DEED OF PURCHASE (Rogito) This is the final stage of the buying process. Once all of the paperwork has been drawn up, the deed of purchase is prepared (atto notarile) and signed by both parties. The balance is then paid and the property is officially transferred.
Again, we paid our balance in the form of a cashiers cheque which we handed to the notary at the time of signing. Following completion, the notary will issue a certified copy of the deed of sale and will register a copy of the deed with the Land Registry (Catasto).
So, there you have the buying process of Italian houses for foreigners, and it is all surprisingly straightforward in a land of bureaucracy and lots of red tape, providing that you have the right people around you to assist and ensure a smooth procedure to take any weight off your mind.
READ MORE: BUYING PROPERTY IN ITALY