Are you wondering how to buy a house in Italy? I’m here to help. Italy is known to be a difficult country to invest in as there is a lot of bureaucracy. But you shouldn’t let that put you off as it truly is a wonderful country and any property bought here is a worthy investment.
With over 20 years of experience helping people just like you buy and sell property, it would be my pleasure to assist you in any way that I can. But to help you decide if buying a property in Italy is the right step for you in this post I have written down everything you need to know when buying a house in Italy. For a list of the typical costs in buying a property in Italy read this.
Important things to know when buying a house in Italy
There are no restrictions placed upon non-residents wishing to purchase a house in Italy, be they from Europe, or elsewhere.
When searching for a house in Italy it is strongly recommended that you use an estate agent fully licensed by the Chamber of Commerce.
Please remember that estate agents in Italy represent both the buyer and the seller and aim to negotiate to reach a settlement favorable to both parties.
There are two words in particular that you must be familiar with they are “Compromesso” and “Rogito” These are the two contractual stages to owning a home in Italy. The Compromesso is the preliminary contract whereby you secure your purchase with a deposit called a “caparra” . The Rogito is the final contract i.e: the sale of the house is finalized.
If you find your dream house in Italy and you want to make an offer, the estate agent may ask you to sign a “Proposta irrevocabile d’acquisto ” – an irrevocable purchase agreement – which is signed by both buyer and seller when you have agreed on the price, and which identifies both parties, the property in question, and gives an expiry date for signing the compromesso (see below).
When you sign you pay a deposit by cheque in any currency for the equivalent of usually 5-10% of the price, which is not cashed but held by the notary or the agency, and returned to you when you sign the compromesso. If you change your mind you will forfeit the deposit, as the owner will have effectively taken the property off the market for a certain period of time. If the sale does not go ahead in the specified date through no fault of your own, then your deposit will be returned to you.
Property Checks and Searches
Before any sale can be completed there are a number of searches and checks to be carried out on the property. Those responsible for these checks are the Geometra (Local surveyor) and the Notaio (Public Notary). If these searches reveal any problems regarding the sale of the property then the sale cannot be completed. Usually, these checks and searches take two to three weeks to carry out.
Checks carried out by the Geometra
- The property matches the Land Registry definition
- The property was not built without planning permission
- Any work or extensions done, have received approval and have had the relevant taxes paid
- The owners as Land Registry Office are the same as stated by the vendor
Preliminary Contract – Compromesso
If a price is agreed upon between the vendor and buyer for the property a preliminary contract or “Compromesso” is drawn up.
The Compromesso is composed of:
- Description of the Vendor and Buyer
- Description of the property to be sold
- The Sale Price
- The deposit (caparra or deposito) varies but is usually around a third of the Sale price.
- Date of the Final Contract (Rogito)
The Compromesso is proof of intention to buy and is binding in a court of law if the Compromesso is registered with the local Registration Tax office. Once both you and the vendor have signed the Compromesso you are both committed to the transfer of the property. You may still withdraw at risk of losing your deposit. The vendor may also withdraw from the Compromesso but will have to return the double the deposit plus pay a penalty. Under these terms, a Compromesso contract is very rarely broken and inevitably leads to the signing of the final contract or ” Rogito”
Cost = deposit of 30% of Sale price approx.
Tax Code – Codice Fiscale
Assuming all goes well (and you don’t want to lose your deposit), you will want to buy the house and sign the final contract (Rogito). But, before doing so you will need to have a tax code called a Codice Fiscale in order for you to pay tax on the building. The Codice Fiscale works in much the same way as a National Insurance number and is easy to apply for.
Final Contract – Rogito
A few months after signing the Compromesso, the Rogito or final contract is signed. The Rogito is a legally binding document and requires the presence of an official called a “Notaio” or Notary/Lawyer. He oversees the signing of the Rogito registers the Rogito to the Land Registry and collects the tax on the property (hence the need for a Codice fiscale).
The Rogito will consist of :
- Description of the property and Land for Sale
- The Date of the Sale
- Name of the vendor and the new buyer, i.e. you
- The purchase price
- The Declared value of the property – the Declared value is often considerably less than the Sales Price as it is based on official Land Registry price tables and is used to calculate the Property Tax.
The process goes as follows:
The Notaio, the Vendor and yourself will all be present (unless you appoint a legal power of attorney to represent you). The Notaio will want to know that the buyer has given proof of good credit to the seller and will be able to pay the sale price. Having satisfied this question, (usually a banker’s guarantee) the Notaio will go on to read out the Rogito.
If, however, you do not speak Italian you can have a “scrittura privata ” (a simplified version of the contract) read out by the Notaio and directly translated by a representative. Having read out the Rogito, the Notaio, the vendor, and yourself will all sign the Rogito. The Notaio will then register the sale with the Land Registry.
1) Purchase Costs
The total fees for buying a property in Italy are approximately 10 to 20 percent of the purchase price. However, it may vary from case to case. For a better idea of the costs involved read this.
In case you rely on a real estate agency to find your dream home in Italy, you will pay a commission which is around 3% of the purchase price + VAT (I.V.A.) 22% of the fee. Usually, this percentage is not divided between buyer and seller, but each one has to pay a 3% + VAT commission.
Once the deal is closed thanks to the intervention of the real estate agent, according to article 1755 Civil Code, he/she is entitled to a commission from both parties.
Stamp duty (Imposta di Registro)
Land registry tax (Imposta Ipotecaria)
Cadastral Tax (Imposta catastale)
These are the 3 main taxes you have to pay when you purchase your home in Italy in addition to other minor taxes.
Cadastral Declared Value
The “cadastral declared value” of the property on the Rogito (deed of sale) usually represents the basis (base imponibile) upon which these 3 taxes are applied, and it can be considerably less than the commercial value since the latest appraisals go back to many years ago. But the government is currently updating these values. However, the “rule of the cadastral value” is not always applicable. For instance, if the buyer purchases a property as a company and not as a private entity, the base upon which taxes are applied is represented by the commercial price of the property.
The amount of these 3 main taxes varies depending upon the type of property as well as the subjective characteristics of both the seller and the buyer:
A) Deeds of purchase stamped at the appropriate stamp duty = if the seller is a PRIVATE OWNER – REAL ESTATE AGENCY – DEVELOPER or RESTRUCTURING COMPANY that sells after 5 years from completion of work and opts out of the VAT regime:
1. Stamp duty: – 2% for primary home (always applied on the cadastral value); – 9% for second home applied on the cadastral value if the buyer is a private entity; applied on the purchase price if the buyer is a business entity >> €1,000 is its minimum payment due.
2. Land registry tax: €50 (fixed rate)
3. Cadastral tax: €50 (fixed rate)
B) Purchase subject to VAT (Value Added Tax) = if the seller is a DEVELOPER or RESTRUCTURING COMPANY that sells within 5 years from completion of work or that sells after 5 years from completion of work and opts to charge VAT on the sale:
1. VAT (applicable on the purchase price agreed and stated in the act by the parties): – 4% for primary home; – 10% for a second home; – 22% for a luxury home.
2. Stamp duty: €200 (fixed rate)
3. Land registry tax: €200 (fixed rate)
4. Cadastral tax: €200 (fixed rate)
5. Duties: €230 (fixed rate)
6. Land registry fee: €35 (fixed rate)
7. Cadastral fee: €55 (fixed rate)
>> Please note that all the taxes list above are valid as a general rule. However, we strongly advise the potential buyer the quotation of that very property before buying it to be sure of the amount of taxes that will be due.
• Notary Fee
A fee (usually about 2,5% of the cadastral value) is paid to the Notary for the preparation of the Rogito and generally, only the buyer pays for the notary expenses and taxes paid to the notary as a public collector.
But note that notary fees can also be requested for the preparation of the preliminary agreement of sale (and therefore not only for the deed) if the parties involved decide to also produce the compromesso with the notary in order to register a certified copy of the deed with the Land Registry.
This fee can slightly vary from town to town, and is on a scale related to the declared value of the property, to the difficulties of the deed and of the property. However, notary fees are similar in every city, at least in terms of the notarial system. A notary’s office in the center of Milan, for instance, could obviously apply higher fees than a notary’s office located in a country town, but this would mostly occur when operating expenses are taken into consideration – which are higher in big towns and smaller in little villages — and not with regards to the notarial rate which always remains the same.
Residency – Residenza
If you are thinking of staying at your Italian home for more than just summer you may consider taking up residence in Italy. Your rights as a European citizen are protected. However, the cost of being a non-resident in Italy can be quite expensive; not only property tax but also amenities such as water, electricity, and telephone bills are often as much as 50% more for non-residents!
NOTE: To claim purchase tax as a resident on your property you must claim residency within 1 year of signing the Rogito.
There are also running costs to consider when purchasing a house in Italy and generally include the following:
- Property taxes (IMU)
- Buildings Insurance
- Contents Insurance
- Utilities (electricity, gas, telephone, water)
- Waste or Garbage tax ( tasse comunale dei rifuti)
- Community fees (Spese del condominio – only applicable if you are part owner of a community building or land e.g. an apartment in a block of flats.)
- Garden maintenance
- Swimming pool maintenance
If you are feeling overwhelmed after reading this don’t be. I would be happy to guide you through this entire process from finding your luxury home in Tuscany right the way through to helping you to manage your property if you decide to rent it out as a vacation home in Tuscany.