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A brief guide on buying property in Italy as a foreigner

The rolling hills of Italy have always held a certain allure for those seeking a life of beauty and culture. From the bustling streets of Rome to the peaceful countryside of Tuscany, there is something for everyone in this land of good food, wine, and scenery.

The notion of owning a piece of Italy is not foreign to Italians. Over 70% of the population own their own homes. A culture of passing property down to family members has helped maintain this statistic. And with high rents in some areas, the decision to buy becomes more attractive because it opens the possibility of using the property as a source of income.

Saleswoman in front of Property cartoon

Can foreigners buy property in Italy?

For those foreigners considering making Italy their home, there are things to consider before leaping. Although the country is a “no restrictions” zone for foreign buyers, there may be some restrictions depending on citizenship.

UK nationals, for instance, are free to purchase property whether they reside in the country or not. However, owning a property does not guarantee citizenship, as one must apply for a visa and permanent residency through the appropriate channels.

The approximate cost of different properties in Italy

The cost of property in Italy varies greatly depending on the location and type of property. For example, an apartment in the city center of Milan can cost upwards of €7,685 per square meter, while the same apartment outside the city center would cost €3,555. On the other hand, one can purchase an apartment in the town of Sambuca for as low as €16,000.

When it comes to finding the right location, it is all about finding the right balance between budget, lifestyle, and location. For those looking for a piece of Italy’s rich culture, cities such as Florence and Rome are popular choices. For those seeking a more laid-back lifestyle, the countryside of Tuscany, Umbria, and Abruzzo, or the beachside boltholes of Sardinia, are ideal.

So, for those yearning for a slice of la dolce vita, the opportunities for making Italy your home are plentiful. With a stable property market and a wealth of locations, the only thing left to do is take the first step and make your Italian dream a reality.

Pitfalls to avoid when buying property in Italy 

Owning a home in Italy may sound like a dream. But with this dream comes the possibility of being ensnared in a web of deceit and trickery. The unsuspecting buyer must be mindful of the pitfalls that lurk in the shadows, ready to trap the unwary.

1. Never should a man purchase a home he has not seen with his own eyes. The charm and allure of historic properties in Italy can be too great for some. But the truth is these long-neglected abodes often hide a multitude of problems. From faulty electrical wiring to a lack of running water, the dangers of buying sight unseen are too great to ignore. A man must take the time to inspect the property in person to experience its condition with his own senses.

2. Beware of those who would sell what is not theirs to sell. The most common of these scams is the “fake owners,” who pretend to sell a home they have no right to sell. They disappear into the night, leaving the buyer with nothing except legal troubles and an uninhabitable house. To avoid these charlatans, the buyer must always check the titles and registration of the property against the seller. Only when the legal title is in hand should a man part with his hard-earned money.

3. Never trust a seller who refuses to meet in person. A man who only communicates by mail and refuses to show up in person is often a scammer, waiting for the buyer to send his money before disappearing into the night. The buyer must insist on meeting the seller in person. And only exchange all titles, keys, and money after the proof has been shown that the seller is the rightful owner and the property is unoccupied.

When in doubt, go with your gut. If something seems amiss, it is best to step back and reconsider.

Things to consider when choosing the right property

When choosing the right property, the buyer must consider his needs and the property’s location. In Italy, there are many options, from detached houses and villas to small apartments in bustling cities like Rome and Milan. The property’s condition must also be taken into account, as many homes in Italy require restoration. Hire a surveyor to inspect the property, especially if you’re looking for a move-in-ready home. Keep an eye out for the condition of plumbing and electrical systems. Also, watch out that the place is free from hazardous materials like asbestos and lead.

Steps to buying a property as a foreigner

For the foreign buyer, the steps to purchasing a property in Italy are not dissimilar to those in any other country. 

  1. First, the buyer must look into a mortgage, as most Italian banks will lend to foreigners. 
  2. Engaging a realtor is the best way to find a property that suits the buyer’s needs and get a good deal. 
  3. Once a property has been chosen and an offer made, a sale contract must be drafted, stamped by an Italian notary, and signed.
  4. Finally, the buyer must pay taxes.

On average, buying a property in Italy takes about six months, but this can vary.

What are the legal requirements for buying a property in Italy?

As with any journey, it’s crucial to understand the requirements for buying a property in this beautiful country.

Though fluent Italian is not a must, it’s wise to have a translator by your side. And a notary will be your companion in handling contracts, as they must be made with precision and care. The preliminary contract known as a compromesso requires a deposit of 10-20% of the sale price, with an initial 1% deposit serving as a symbol of good faith. And should the seller back out, they are liable to pay double the deposit as compensation.

For those seeking a bank loan, Italian banks are willing to provide mortgages to non-residents, though they can be cautious in their lending. You’ll need to show your passport and proof of income, with bank statements and employment contracts, and your documents may need to be translated and certified. The bank will inspect your finances and the property, with the help of a surveyor and the notary, before issuing formal approval.

What kind of taxes and fees will I need to pay?

As you plan your budget, it’s crucial to keep in mind the taxes and fees, including registration tax of 3-7%, VAT of 4-22%, land registry tax of 1%, notary fee of 1-2.5%, translator fee of 250-350 euros, estate agent fee of 1.5-4% plus VAT, and legal fees of 1-2% plus VAT.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! A brief guide on buying property in Italy as a foreigner. As we mentioned throughout the article, fluency in Italian is not mandatory. But grasping at least the basics can take you a long way. Here is a podcast-style course you can try while driving or doing other daily activities. Click here to test-drive it for a week for free.

We wish you the best in finding and buying your dream property in Italy!

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  1. We bought a property in Italy just over twenty years ago. As British nationals, there were loads of hoops to jump and numerous pitfalls that can make owning a property a nightmare for any foreigner in Italy.
    Although we were told we should be able to get a mortgage, the reality was that no bank in Rome would lend us any money. We had enough money at the time to purchase a property for cash but wanted to do renovations (thus, the mortgage was ideal). Unfortunately, it was impossible. So, do make sure that you qualify for a mortgage.
    The other big problem that we, and many other prospective buyers come across in Italy is the amount of “illegal” building work that is done. Make 100% sure that the house you are planning, conforms to the building plans approved and lodged at the “commune.” Otherwise, you might end up purchasing a partly illegal dwelling, which drastically reduces property value.
    That being said, Italy is the dream destination for many foreigners, and as long as you do your due diligence, you can make your home in Italy a reality.

    1. Hi! Thanks for visiting us, and we value your insights buying a property in Italy. We want the best for our readers. And your recommendations can save them trouble down the line. Thank you!

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