Buying property in Italy? Here’s what awaits you

You are ready to buy a property in Italy? Here is a step by step overview of what’s ahead as you make your purchase.

As recently outlined in Helpful tips on buying a property in Italy, buyers are currently spoilt for choice and prices are also relatively stable. In this favourable climate, be sure not to get too carried away and allow for adequate time to analyse and source the best investment opportunity available. Once found, prepare for the fact that some time may pass before the purchase process is completed.

Average timescales are around four to five months with more difficult cases lasting up to a year or more. Properties on the market usually come with building or planning irregularities that need resolving before the sale can go ahead. Some will be minor and easily fixed; others may even render a property unsaleable. Be prepared for some red tape!

However, with the proper assistance and safeguards in place, timing to complete can be reduced to a minimum and the purchase process can be organized in accordance with the buyer’s needs. Note that both the purchase offer and preliminary contract (if required) are binding, so they must allow for the possibility to withdraw from the purchase without any penalty or obligation to proceed.

Any contracts signed should be subject to the successful outcome of due-diligence investigations, needed to ascertain many factors including the legal status of the property, the absence of any encumbrances and the conformity of the property with building permits and regulations.

If the property is purchased with the aim of carrying out renovations works, check these will indeed be possible and whether any permission has been given for developments in the surrounding area that may block any views or decrease the value of the property. Check that the area is not at particular risk of earthquakes, landslides or other environmental hazards.


Italian banks are still fairly cautious and it is generally possible to borrow around 60% of the purchase price. The mortgage contract must be signed in front of a Notary Public, generally at the same time as the purchase deed is signed. When the buyer does not understand Italian, it is much easier for the mortgage agreement (and purchase deed) to be signed by means of powers of attorney, generally given to the buying party’s lawyer.

An Italian tax number (codice fiscale) will be necessary and an Italian bank account is advisable, both of which are easily attainable.

rogitoPurchase offer

This is a written agreement under which the buyer unilaterally commits to buy. As mentioned, the offer needs to contain the necessary conditions or contingencies (e.g. conformity of the property).

Once the seller accepts the offer, both parties are committed in the same way as a preliminary contract.


Together with the purchase offer, the buyer is normally required to leave an initial deposit (normally between 0.5-3% of the final price). These offers can often be written in ambiguous terms and if handled incorrectly can lead to the loss of the amount.

Preliminary contract

In Italy, it is very common to sign a “preliminary contract”, particularly when the property is not ready for immediate delivery to the buyer. This may occur when the selling party is a developer or is carrying out renovation work, when some important details are yet to be resolved (e.g. checking building permits) or when a buyer does not have the full funds available and a mortgage is required. The rights on the property do not pass on signing the preliminary contract, but from that point onward, the seller is obligated to sell and the buyer is obligated to buy. If the buyer defaults, the seller may withdraw from the contract, keeping the confirmatory deposit. If instead the seller defaults, the buyer may demand double the down payment. Alternatively, a court order may be requested to ensure the defaulting party fulfils its obligation.

The confirmatory deposit (caparra confirmatoria) is an amount of money, normally 20-30% of the total price, paid to the seller by the buyer at the signing of the preliminary contract.

The purchase deed, completion and payment

The purchase deed must be in written form and must be signed before an Italian Notary, who is an officer of the State. The Notary verifies that the rights can indeed be transferred and checks whether the property is subject to any encumbrances. Each Notary has their own standard contract they prefer to use but this can be negotiated together with the buying party’s lawyer.

The full rights on the property pass when the Notary completes the procedure and registers the contract at the local land registry. If the buying party does not understand Italian, the entire contract must be translated and an interpreter nominated. Alternatively, as for the mortgage contract, a power of attorney can be given to a lawyer or Italian speaker. The power of attorney must be signed in front of a Notary in Italy or in the country of the buyer. In this case, the procedure is simplified as only the power of attorney needs to be translated and, if overseas, the buyer does not need to travel to Italy to be present at the signing.

The most common method of payment is the delivery of a cashier’s cheque at the time the final deed is signed.

If there are no complications, the meeting in front of the notary generally takes one to two hours.

When the purchase involves a listed building, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage can exercise its right of pre-emption so a further duration of 60 days is needed before the sale is finalized. Likewise, in the case of agricultural land, neighbouring farmers are duly informed and they also have the right of first refusal, which must again be exercised within 60 days of signing the purchase deed.

Article by Kate Taylor
Additaly – Real Estate & Consulting
Via Bonifacio Lupi, 29 – 50129 Firenze (IT)
7-10 Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, London, W1G 9DQ (UK)

Helpful tips on buying a property in Italy

Buying a property in Italy can unfortunately be a nerve-wracking process and there are plenty of potential pitfalls. What starts out as an exciting adventure can quite easily turn into an unpleasant and costly experience. This is however no reason to be put off. Just be sure to do your research and to seek the right advice from the right people.

Seaside1Why Italy? Why not. Prospective buyers are indeed spoilt for choice. Seaside villas, mountain chalets, Tuscan farmhouses, country vineyards and many interesting investment opportunities in Italy’s commercial hotspot, Milan. Combine this selection with a country renowned for its history, art, cuisine and fashion, such that it ranks one of the most visited countries in the world, and it is hard to deny the attraction.

So, am I eligible as a foreigner to buy a property in Italy? This is the first point to check. Generally speaking, yes. The Italian property market is open to all types of buyers who come from countries where Italian citizens can enjoy the same purchase rights.

Italy has always been a popular destination for overseas buyers, those looking for a holiday home and those choosing to retire or live in Italy all year round. There is an ever-increasing demand for holiday rental property so the buy-to-let strategy is very popular. Low-cost airlines have also helped to make many lesser-known parts of the country more accessible and despite Italy’s immense popularity, there are still many undiscovered areas with very reasonable prices. The remote Sicilian town of Gangi even launched a campaign a couple of years ago offering homes for a mere €1, with obligatory renovation works being the only catch.

Property prices are generally given per square metre and of course vary greatly depending on location, condition and property type. To give a few examples, a two-bedroom apartment in the centre of Milan can be found for €350,000, while a beautiful loft 600 meters from the Duomo will cost €1.9 million. Six kilometres from the city centre, a two-bedroom apartment can be found for as little as €60,000.

A three-room apartment in good condition in Venice’s San Polo neighbourhood will cost €355,000, but a well-maintained apartment in the San Marco area will set you back at least 7,500 €/sq.m.

A two-bedroom apartment in the centre of Florence can be found for €250,000 but for around €360,000 you can find a completely renovated three-room apartment in a prime location between the Duomo and the central station.

LakesStill in Tuscany, a 320 sq.m farmhouse in good condition in the hills of Greve in Chianti, complete with swimming pool and private land, is for sale at €770,000.

In Umbria, where the countryside and way of life is entirely comparable to that of Tuscany, you can find a four-room apartment for €120,000. Instead, with €3 million, you can purchase a 1,000 sq.m renovated boutique hotel complete with private park and swimming pool.

For an apartment in the centre of Rome, prices instead fluctuate from 5,000-8,000 €/sq.m., depending on the surface area and state of maintenance.

In Puglia, you could purchase five trulli, typical local buildings in the Alberobello area, completely renovated with land and swimming pool for little more than €250,000. A typical and completely restored house in Monopoli, measuring around 650 sq.m., will instead cost €600,000.

In the main islands of Sicily and Sardinia, there are many interesting areas where you can buy a three-room apartment for less than 80,000. A 310 sq.m villa with swimming pool in Porto Cervo on Sardinia’s “Emerald Coast”, will instead cost €2.9 million.

There are even places in central and southern Italy where you can purchase a property for less than €1,000/sq.m.

According to economic research company Nomisma, prices are expected to remain relatively stable during 2016 and a more significant upturn is predicted for 2017.

Professionals involved in a property purchase. Who does what?

law bookThe buyer has the right to choose the Notary (notaio), who will certify, at the time of signing the final purchase deed, that the seller is in fact the legal owner and that the property is unaffected by any mortgages, burdens or restrictions. The Notary will register the deed at the local land registry and will pay the transfer taxes on behalf of the buyers.

An independent lawyer (avvocato) acting on behalf of the buyer may draft/check and negotiate all the contracts involved in a property purchase: from the instructions to the estate agent to the final purchase deed, going through the purchase offer and preliminary contract, if necessary. The purchase process should be organized in accordance with the needs of the client and the outcome of technical/legal due-diligence investigations.

A surveyor (geometra) can verify the market value of the property, check the technical specifications and whether the factual state of the property conforms with the local planning records, regulations and restrictions. The surveyor is also in a position to check the feasibility of and direct any renovation works performed on a property.

Both buyer and seller, if used, normally pay the fees of the estate agent. Italian law states that the broker’s commission is due if the deal is concluded as a result of the estate agent’s intervention. In absence of an agreement between the parties and the estate agent, the amount of the commission is determined by professional rates or local practice. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is advisable to sign a written agreement with the estate agent, specifying the agreed fees, any expenses due, and relevant terms and conditions of payment, etc.

Commencing your search. So where do I start?

This depends on the time you have available and the type of property you are looking for. There are many websites advertising properties from all over Italy and these can help prospective buyers get a better feel for the local market and properties on offer and to organize inspections. Another option could be to seek the advice of experts who can provide you with a selection of properties that meet your specific requirements.

Article by Kate Taylor
Additaly – Real Estate & Consulting
Via Bonifacio Lupi, 29 – 50129 Firenze (IT)
7-10 Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, London, W1G 9DQ (UK)

Le tre criticità che ostacolano gli investitori internazionali

Intervista a Kate Taylor, Director di Additaly Ltd di Marco Luraschi

Riuscire ad affiancare investitori internazionali propensi a portare capitali nel real estate italiano, o aiutare operatori italiani che invece vogliono investire all’estero, sembra facile a parole ma in realtà richiede un’expertise completa e integrata a più livelli. Soprattutto necessita di una grande conoscenza delle realtà internazionali. In questo ambito opera Additaly una giovane società di consulenza, con sede a Londra e ufficio italiano a Firenze, che offre in particolare agli investitori assistenza tecnica e legale. Dalla chiacchierata con la Director della società, Kate Taylor, si capisce che l’interesse degli investitori per l’Italia da solo non basta a portare a buon fine le operazioni real estate.

Da quanto come Additaly seguite investitori stranieri che cercano opportunità nel nostro Paese?
Fanno parte di Additaly professionisti che da più di quindici anni assistono investitori stranieri in Italia, con particolare riferimento agli aspetti tecnici e legali. Additaly, però, nasce un paio di anni fa, in periodo di piena crisi del settore, come veicolo per dedicare servizi integrati al real estate.

Si può dire che avete scommesso sul real estate?
Certo. la concentrazione delle nostre energie nel settore rappresenta una scelta deliberata, dettata anche dalla passione e dalla volontà di mettere a disposizione l’esperienza maturata, con l’auspicio che il nostro modo di operare dia un piccolo contributo a uno sviluppo efficace ed ordinato del mercato immobiliare.

Qual è il vostro modo di operare e quali sono i vostri servizi?
Bisogna distinguere in due categorie i servizi che proponiamo: una prevede servizi rivolti a coloro che intendono proporre sul mercato internazionale la vendita di immobili in Italia e l’altra consiste nell’assistenza di cui ha bisogno un investitore straniero. per quanto riguarda la prima categoria, abbiamo istituito procedure standard prima di prendere in carico un immobile da proporre all’estero. una condizione essenziale è che l’immobile sia oggetto di un’approfondita due diligence, con lo scopo di avere uno strumento descrittivo dello stesso, veicolabile in formato elettronico in tutto il mondo e che fornisca ad un potenziale acquirente quante più informazioni possibili, secondo principi e nomenclature internazionali, immediatamente comprensibili.
riteniamo fondamentale che la due diligence, oltre a contenere tutti i dati tecnici, descriva al meglio l’immobile che, pertanto, viene rappresentato con servizi fotografici e video, eseguiti sotto la direzione di un architetto e di un tecnico di riprese video a terra e aeree. l’altra condizione essenziale per Additaly è che l’immobile venga conferito in esclusiva. Senza volersi addentrare nei risvolti positivi che un’esclusiva implica, conviene in questa sede sottolineare che per operare sul mercato straniero è necessario rappresentare nel dettaglio l’immobile, in modo che possa eventualmente essere intrapresa una selezione a distanza, a valle della quale può nascere un interesse più concreto. È intuibile, dunque, come la qualità della due diligence possa servire a far attirare l’attenzione sul proprio immobile. tuttavia, è comprensibile che un operatore immobiliare, in assenza di esclusiva, non voglia offrire al pubblico tutti i dettagli dell’immobile. noi crediamo che si debba invertire questa tendenza e la concessione dell’esclusiva significa appunto poter veicolare al meglio le informazioni e la descrizione della proprietà, anche secondo il principio di massima condivisione con altri operatori del settore, che auspichiamo cominci a prevalere anche in Italia.

Per quanto riguarda invece i servizi rivolti agli acquirenti stranieri?
in relazione ai servizi diretti all’investitore straniero, pensiamo di aver sviluppato un’approfondita conoscenza di tutti gli aspetti che devono interessare chi vuole investire in italia. Quelli che rappresentano il minimo comune denominatore sono prontezza nell’evadere le richieste, possibilità di essere assistiti in lingua, massima conoscenza preventiva della proprietà da acquisire e del mercato e, in ultimo ma non meno importante, flessibilità nei costi per l’assistenza. a tali aspetti se ne aggiungono altri più tarati sul caso specifico quali la richiesta di accesso al finanziamento, la necessità di essere assistiti nei contratti di appalto, di essere assistiti negli acquisti all’asta e nei rapporti con le amministrazioni. un servizio sempre più richiesto è quello del property finding, proprio perché Additaly coniuga la conoscenza del mercato residenziale e commerciale con l’esperienza tecnica e professionale. in conclusione, la missione di Additaly nei confronti degli investitori stranieri è di essere una sorta di general contractor e di fornire qualsiasi tipo di servizio, a partire dall’individuazione di una proprietà con caratteristiche espressamente richieste fino ad arrivare alla gestione della proprietà. In merito alla qualità dei servizi, siamo convinti che i clienti non possano limitare il giudizio sulla base di una mera auto-presentazione ma debbano operare le scelte dei consulenti su tre presupposti fondamentali: track record, network e feedback dei clienti passati.

Qual è in questo momento il sentiment degli investitori stranieri verso il mercato italiano?
Per non essere banali e non trattare a livello generale il sentiment apparentemente positivo che si respira in questi ultimi mesi, vorremmo provare a formulare delle critiche più di dettaglio e forse fuori dal coro. ci sono tre principali componenti che, secondo la nostra esperienza, continuano a creare un tangibile disturbo; la complessità ed imprevedibilità del sistema urbanistico-edilizio, l’inefficienza e, talvolta, l’approssimazione del sistema giudiziario ed il sistema fiscale italiano caratterizzato da prassi locali e dalla possibilità per l’agenzia delle entrate di recuperare gettito mediante l’applicazione della tassa di registro calcolata sul prezzo unilateralmente revisionato in eccesso dall’agenzia rispetto al prezzo liberamente concordato tra le parti. in un simile scenario, non è facile dare certezze a chi si propone di investire nel nostro paese ed è proprio per questo che l’investitore deve rivolgersi a consulenti qualificati per ridurre al minimo i rischi di imprevisti e controversie.

In quali settori in questo momento ci sono offerte interessanti e che tipo di prodotto cercano gli investitori?
I lettori de il Quotidiano immobiliare sanno bene che le offerte interessanti si trovano attualmente in tutti i settori. noi stiamo concentrando i nostri sforzi sul settore turistico-ricettivo.
a questo proposito auspichiamo un intervento del legislatore per rendere più dettagliato e organico l’attuale scarno quadro normativo che regola le residenze turistico-alberghiere in quanto tale concetto, in un paese a vocazione turistica come l’Italia, potrebbe avere un successo assimilabile a quello che ha avu- to negli Stati uniti secondo il concetto dei condhotel.