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Buying a property in Italy

With this informative page, we are trying to guide you through the process of buying a property in Italy. All of us know that Italy is one of the countries famous for its complicated bureaucracy (luckily not only this!), and sometimes useless laws and regulations. We hope that when you have read this, you will have a clearer idea on what you have to do if you decide to become an Italian property owner.

First document you need to buy a property is an Italian Fiscal Code (Codice Fiscale) This is a personal code issued taking in consideration some details such as name, surname, year of birth and place of birth. It is used as fiscal identification when you pay taxes on the property you buy. It is issued by the “Ufficio delle Imposte”, the local tax office.

We always assist our clients in obtaining the Italian Fiscal code and opening the bank account. It usually takes between 2 and 3 hours to organise both. If it takes longer it is because of the queues at the counters! I know it is unbelievable considering that we are in Italy as we were saying before, but it is true! I must say that if you decide to do it yourself, you will be successful of course, but we cannot guarantee on the same timing, conditions and ease of process.

Let’s get to the point now! We will try to describe as clearly as we can the three main steps to follow to buy a property.

Offer & Purchase Proposal (Offerta & Proposta d’Acquisto)

When you have found the property that suits your needs and fallen in love with it, you have to make an offer and usually this is done through the Estate Agent.
At this stage you have to be aware that when the price of a property is “negotiable”, the margin of negotiability depends on each property and in a lot of cases the asking price is not even negotiable.

As per now, in the description that follows you will become our “Proposed Buyer”.

Once the price has been agreed between the parties, the Proposed Buyer has to legalise the verbal proposal with a documents called Purchase Proposal, "Proposta d’Acquisto", that usually is prepared and forwarded by the Estate Agent.
The Purchase Proposal is a binding document where are indicated  the details of Vendor and the Proposed Buyer,  the price offered, the property details, the Preliminary Contract (Compromesso) and the Final Contract (Rogito) date (these dates are only indicative, the official dates will be agreed later in the process).
A cheque of 10% of the value agreed has to be issued in the name of the Vendor and generally sent or given to the Estate Agent together with the Purchase Proposal signed.

The vendor accepts by countersigning the Proposal.

At this stage we always advice the Proposed Buyer to appoint a local surveyor, "geometra" to execute a survey, "perizia",on the property. There is not a legal requirement to have a survey executed by a surveyor but we strongly advice to do so because the proposed buyer risks committing himself in buying a property he has no knowledge of from a structural/legal point of view and if there is any problem, once the property has been bought, they will become his problems and the previous owner will not be held accountable. The surveyor has to be paid separately.

Please note that only at this moment the property is taken off the market.

Preliminary Contract (Compromesso)

If the survey has been successful, we proceed to the second stage, The Preliminary Contract, “Compromesso”. This is a private contract between the parties but we always prefer to execute it before a Public Notary (Notaio). It gives all our clients more security and reassurance on what they are committing to, and we simply make a statement about our honesty, professionalism and integrity.
The Preliminary Contract is usually prepared by the parties' surveyors(the vendor and buyer have different surveyors)  and double checked by the Notary, all before the date of the signature.

At the Preliminary Contract a further deposit of 20% of the value agreed, has to be paid to the Vendor.

It is very important to understand that once the Preliminary Contract has been signed, if the Buyer changes his mind and for any reason decides to not proceed with the purchase, he loses the 30% (20% plus 10% deposit) paid. If, instead, it is the Vendor that for any reason changes his mind, he must return DOUBLE of the 30% deposit.

The Estate Agent fee is also payable at the Preliminary Contract, unless otherwise agreed.

Final Contract (Rogito)

The Final Contract, "Rogito", takes place before a Public Notary, "Notaio", and it is important to mention that as he is a witness, as it is stated in the same contract, he does not act for any of the parties but acts for neither party.

Previously to the contract the Notary, would have executed a Fiscal survey on the property, making sure that all the taxes have been paid for, and he would have checked whether there is any mortgage on the property.
Once the parties have been identified, the Notary reads the Contract, making sure that both parties understand correctly the Contract and what is sold.
He will then ask each party to sign and the Buyer will have to pay the remaining balance of the price of the property.

It is at this stage that the buyer has to pay taxes, Notary’s and surveyor’s fees. 

Taxes & Notes

The percentage of taxes to pay in Italy is 10%. If the property is bought as "Resident" the taxes percentage is 3%. Yes, it is possible to buy a property as resident when you are not Italian, however the buyer has to apply and obtain residency in the district where the property is located.

Some could be tempted to buy with this option in order to save some money on taxes, but we strongly advice not do so if this is the case.

The buyer that applies for residency has to live in the property he buys and he will receive visits from the local police force,"vigili", to ascertain his presence.

The residency has to be applied for and obtained within 10 months from the date of the Final Contract. After 10 months, if the buyer has not applied for residency, contrary to what declared in the phase of contract completion, he will have to pay the difference on taxes (7%) plus interests, plus a fine.

Some advice & info

- We always advice a surveyor to be appointed, as the Notary executes only a fiscal survey. The surveyor instead executes checks on the property structure, main systems (wiring, plumbing) and legal aspects. When you appoint a surveyor, always ask, which surveys he will execute on the property as these three are different and independent and not necessarily executed together.

- The parties surveyors and the Notary, through all the process, work together cross checking all the information regarding the purchase and they prepare together both the Preliminary Contract and Final Contract.

- When one of the parties is not Italian, we offer double language services from the Purchase Proposal, through the Final Contract. A legal translator is always present at both Preliminary and Final Contract. This service has a separate cost and it is not included in the agency fee.

- When you buy a property always consider between 12% and 15% to be added to the price paid for the property. This includes: Estate Agency fee, Surveyor fee, Notary fee, property taxes and stamp duty. If you are a “First time buyer” the percentage is much lower than the one mentioned.

- In different European countries, usually is the solicitor/lawyer and not the surveyor that takes care of all the aspects of the property purchase. In Italy it is not the case however, if you prefer to have a lawyer involved as well, this is totally up to you. You can even appoint a lawyer in your own country, he will then appoint a local surveyor in Italy and will supervise his work.

We hope that our description and guidance is clear, however if you need any information or have any comment or question, please contact us