In the generality of cases, there are no restrictions on foreigners owning property in Italy.
However, while the buying process is relatively straight forward it does differ to many other countries.
Be prepared by obtaining an Italian tax code number, codice fiscale from local authorities and then opening a bank account.
Reliable and experienced advice is crucial. Conveyancing will be overseen by a notary, notaio. The notary is a public official who is independent and impartial; they will register the sale, make sure that conveyancing is taken care of according to law and will also collect the relevant taxes on behalf of the government.
The buyer is able to choose a notary they wish to work with. Although all the paperwork required for a property transaction is undertaken by the estate agent and the notary, many buyers will choose to appoint their own lawyer as when the terms may require additional legal support. A surveyor, geometra, will conduct a survey and all searches on the property.
A survey is not a legal necessity in Italy but highly recommended and choosing a surveyor with good knowledge of the local planning area and Council is advisable.
The buying process
has three main steps:
01 Research & Proposal
Once you have found a property and verbally agreed the price, you should submit a written proposal of purchase, the proposta d’acquisto. often at this stage a small deposit is paid by the buyer as a sign of their intent, and it is held in escrow until the preliminary contract is signed. this deposit is deductible from the overall price.
02 Sale Contract
When the offer is accepted, the notary or the parties’ counsels draw up the preliminary sale contract, compromesso or contratto preliminare di compravendita. This is a legally binding contract signed by both parties. it gives a full description of the property for sale, details of both parties involved, outlines the sale price, any extra conditions particular to the sale, the completion date and the deposit paid which, subject to the parties’ agreement, ranges between 10 and 30 percent of the agreed purchase price. As surveys and searches are frequently carried out prior to signing, the preliminary agreement can be made conditional on their outcome.
In broad terms, this is equivalent to the english exchange of contracts. Careful drafting of the deposit clause is important. under a deposit clause, caparra confirmatoria, a buyer who pulls out of the purchase forfeits their deposit, while a vendor who pulls out must pay twice the amount of the deposit. This contract will be registered within 20 days and registration costs and an anticipation of the purchase taxes calculated on the deposits will be paid at registration. The amount of anticipated tax will be deducted from the total purchase tax to be paid for the ownership transfer to the new owner.
Until the purchase is completed, the seller remains the owner of the property and could technically sell the property to a third party. Under Italian law, there are ways for the buyer to get higher protection (which your agent or lawyer will be able to discuss with you further).
03 Signing the deed
the last step in the process is the final contract, the rogito. this is signed in front of the notary by both the buyer and seller, or someone with the power of attorney to sign on their behalf. The deed will be drafted in Italian, and the language chosen by the Parties involved in the sale. A translator will be also present at the signing of the notarial deed. The outstanding balance, plus all fees and taxes, are paid at this point. The notary will then issue the deeds and register them at the Land Registry.