Buyer Advice

Help and advice for those buying property in Italy

This page seeks to de-mystify the process of buying property in Italy. We aim to help you gain confidence in your ability to buy a home in such a colourful and wonderful country.

If you would like more advice please do not hesitate to contact the Italian Property Gallery directly.

Step by step guide – how to buy your property in Italy

The Italian Property step-by-step Italian Property Buyers Guide will lead you through the process of buying property in Italy.

1. Website enquiry

Excuse us if we ask a lot of questions when you contact us. This is an important process in your life and we need to glean as much information from you as possible to be able to help you most effectively. Use our property search facility to find the properties that fit your criteria most closely. Sometimes it takes a few visits to view the properties to really know what is right for you.

2. Visit to view properties

We can be there as much or as little as you want. We can advise on accommodation and hire cars and we can even suggest the best flights. If you want to experience first hand the pleasure of owning a home in our area of Italy, come and stay in the local area.

During your trip we can further discuss your needs and view the properties you have found that most fit what you are looking for. I recommend at least two visits to a property that you like, and at different times of the day.

As with all real estate, the market here is very buoyant and so we will often be able to show you new properties that have just come onto our books. We have sales contracts with all our sellers to safeguard our buyers.

3. Offer

Unlike the United States where an offer is 23 pages of contract, an informal letter called a “proposal to buy” accompanied by 2000 euros will secure any property and mark it ‘Under Offer’ on our website.

We will ask for photo ID at this point to accompany the proposal to buy.

Once the seller has agreed the price offered, we can then go ahead and provide a quote for the closing costs. A rough guide is that they will run to 10% to 15% of the purchase price.

4. Inspections

These are made by a Geometra, who is a combination of an architect and a surveyor. They will inspect the condition of the property, the boundary lines and the ownership of the property. They will make sure that the property you intend to buy is free of easements or liens. They will make sure the property can be legally sold and then they will write the preliminary contract.

We now urge clients to also pay for a technical survey to be done on the property that they wish to buy to ensure no unpleasant surprises. These cost about 700 euros and cover the state of the electrics, sewers, internal kitchen and bathrooms. It can even cover the ability to put a pool in on the property. Any information regarding town planning rules only has a shelf life of about 3 months as town planning regulations change so regularly. Finally, if you do wish to put in for planning permission on a property, do it as soon as you buy the property in case you are no longer able to carry out your plans five years later.

5. Preliminary Contract

The preliminary contract (Compromesso) is a private agreement stating the full price of the house and the conditions that need to be met before the sale. Since January 2007, all registered Italian real estate agents are obliged to register all the preliminary contracts. This is paid for by you the buyer and will cost 168 euros which is the fixed registration fee, plus 2 bolli or stamps (these are currently 14,62 euros each) and 0.5% of the deposit. In the case that your deposit is 24,000 euros, for example, there will be a registration fee of 120 euros. At this point the buyer is usually required to pay about 30% of the total sale price.

This seems a lot but it ensures that no-one can be gazumped and it protects both the buyer and the seller against defaulting on the contract. If you default you lose your deposit, if the seller defauts they are required to pay you back twice the value of your deposit. As this is a private agreement we can sign this on your behalf if you wish.

Before the Geometra can go ahead and write this contract they need to research the origin of the house i.e. who the sellers bought from, they will check if there are any liens or mortgages on the property, they will check for easements and who are the neighbours with common borders. At this stage, you can also make known any conditions that you wish to place on the purchase. For example, it may be important to you to have permission for a pool. You can have this written into the Preliminary Contract and, if permission is not subsequently received, you are able to withdraw from the purchase with a full refund.

Books on the subject of buying property in Italy always talk about the ‘coltivatori diritti’; this is a law whereby a registered farmer can purchase a piece of rural property for the declared (lower) tax honest price. This whole problem is avoided by getting any neighbouring farmers to sign a letter whereby they decline this right of purchase and will not pursue it in the future, thus protecting our buyers.

Once the preliminary contract is signed we regard the purchase as a done-deal and put the property into pending status. At this point you need only pay our commission which, if you decide to go for the standard legal package is 3% plus local VAT (called IVA). The Geometra and taxes are paid at final contract.

6. Final contract

By this time, any conditions that need to be met by the sellers have already been met and any queries arising from the writing of the preliminary contract have been settled so both buyers and sellers get to meet each other around the table to sign the final paperwork and exchange pleasantries. The only check that cannot be completed until just before the final contract is the lien check. It is vital that this is done just before we walk into the notary’s office because it is still always possible that the vendors could put a mortgage on the property even if the compromesso is signed. At the final contract, you will need to pay the balance of the purchase price by a bankers draft, bank transfer or mortgage and the details of payment are written into the final contract.

The notary will need your proof of ID at the contract, so don’t forget your passport.

Buying a property in Italy can seem complex. However, the Italian Property Gallery Team have more than 20 years experience and work with expert partners in the area to ensure your buying experience is as straightforward and stress free as possible. If you would like us to talk you through any element of the buying process further, please do not hesitate to contact us.