Italy is a beautiful country, full of history, art and stunning landscapes to say nothing of the warm climate, friendly people, the excellent food and the wine. It is no wonder that so many of us dream of buying a property somewhere in Italy.
It is when dreams turn into reality that problems arise and buying a property abroad can be full of rules, regulations and legal matters that you would never have thought of. The Italian process of buying a house will certainly differ from where you are currently living and will almost definitely seem frustrating and confusing but the real estate market in Italy is very structured and secure for both the buyer and seller.
After you have decided where you want to live, how much you want to spend and you finally find your dream home then the process can begin. Hopefully this simple guide will help you to make your way through the process of buying a house in Italy.
The first thing to happen is that after agreeing a price with the sellers your estate agent may ask you to sign an agreement confirming the details of the offer and the commission to be paid. You may also be asked to pay a very small deposit at this stage which is called the 'prenotazione'.
The second stage is known as the 'compromesso' and this is a preliminary agreement in which all details of the sale will be set out , including a date for completion of the sale. You will be required at this point to pay a substantial deposit, usually around 30% of the purchase price. This is not a binding agreement and either party can pull out of the sale at this stage. If the buyers pull out then they lose their deposit and if the sellers pull out they have to pay double the amount of the deposit to the buyers. This means that things are pretty well secure as it would be very unlikely for either side to want to risk losing money.
The third and final stage is known as the 'rogito' which involves a formal contract being drawn up by a notary who will be acting independently for both the buyers and the sellers. The notary will check that all aspects of the sale and purchase are legal and satisfactory. You will not need to appoint any other legal advice but it will be necessary to use an interpreter if your Italian is not good enough. Both the buyers (with interpreter if needed) and the sellers will then be called to the notary's office and all payments, including property taxes, will take place in front of the notary before the ownership passes to the buyers.
Here is a list of taxes which you will be liable for:
Imposta catastali - 2% of the value of your property as determined by the local tax office.
Registro - a registration tax payable when a property changes registered ownership. This tax is 10% for non-residents and 4% for residents (you have 18 months in which to become resident after buying your property).
Imposta comunale sugli immobile (ICI) - you will not be liable for this tax if you are intending living full time in your property and it is your only current home. If it is a second home you will have to pay this tax which is calculated at 0.5% of the value and it is payable annually. These taxes are currently under review and the exact amount that will be payable ius currently unclear.
Tasso per lo smaltimento di rifuti solodi urbani (TARSU) - This is a community tax to pay for the disposal of refuse. This is usually a few hundred Euros and is payable annually.
Swimming pool tax - This is a one off tax paid when a new swimming pool is constructed. This is in addition to the planning costs for the pool. This amount varies according to the dimensions of the pool and each individual Comune's regulations.
On top of these taxes you will have to pay a fee to the estate agent (normally 3%) and a fee to the notary which is difficult to estimate as it depends on the circumstances. Your estate agent should be able to give you a rough idea how much the cost will be.
It is usual after this final stage for all parties to go out together for a drink and then your dream can begin!