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)

Buying homes under the hammer in Italy

Auctions are a superb opportunity to buy property in Italy at knockdown prices – especially with an estimated 80,000 available on the market at any one time.

However, they are an option that remains very much ignored, especially by Brits and other foreign investors.

Yet the advantages of purchasing a home in Italy via auction are considerable.

Apart from the fact that you’re buying a home at a fraction of its true market value, you also avoid paying geometra (surveyor) and notary fees, which between them can cost around £4,000-£5,000.

In addition, in some auctions overseen by a court, an amnesty may be granted if you purchase a property that has partly or entirely been built without the appropriate planning permission – normally a serious breach that can prevent a property being sold.

Below is a broad outline of how the process works.

However, as with all overseas property purchases, and particularly in Italy, it is advisable to use the services of a reputable estate agent or company specialising in auction sales.

Properties in Italy come up for auction for three main reasons:

When the owner has defaulted on mortgage repayments meaning the property has been or is about to be repossessed;
When a governmental or a public body owns them and wishes to dispose of them;
When they have been confiscated in criminal proceedings.
The process of purchasing at auction in Italy has been made much easier since a change in the law a decade ago.

It made a previously arcane arm of the real estate industry suddenly more transparent – principally allowing for auction notices to be made publicly available, along with details of the properties due to go under the hammer.

That, and the global economic crash in 2007-08, has seen a surge in the number of available foreclosure and other auction properties.

Auctions are typically held in the offices of a lawyer/accountant etc, if they are bankruptcy/foreclosure sell-offs. Judicial auctions, on the other hand, usually take place in court.

Ahead of an auction, a surveyor will provide inspection report on the asset for sale, outlining any issues such as subsidence. In addition, prospective investors can examine the property in person for themselves.

Auctions are open to anyone except the existing owner, as long as they register in advance. This sometimes has to be done as early as 60 days before the sale.

A deposit must also be paid, equal to ten per cent of the auction starting price, plus the costs of registering the property under your name should your bid eventually be successful.

Most Italian financial institutions offer mortgages to cover properties bought at auction. However, if you intend to buy using a mortgage, you must provide a promise letter from the lending bank.

Auctions are conducted either “with reserve” or “without reserve”.

If they are “with reserve”, prospective buyers hand in offers in sealed envelopes, which are opened just before the sale gets under way.

The highest offer is used as the starting point for all bids. The winning bid must be at least 20 per cent of the reserve price for it to be accepted. In any case, the seller has the right to refuse any winning bid.

Where sales are staged “without reserve”, the highest bid wins out, irrespective of price.

In both types of sale, the winning bidder has up to 60 days to pay in full for the property. There is no cooling-off period and if for whatever reason they change their minds afterwards, they lose whatever deposit they have already paid.

Other prospective buyers whose bids were unsuccessful simply have their deposits returned to them once the auction closes.

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Investire nella casa, la mappa di affitti e rendimenti

Si riapre la partita dell’investimento sul mattone residenziale, su cui i capitali istituzionali – così restii sul mercato italiano ad occuparsi di case – stanno tornando a puntare i riflettori.

Troppe tasse – è vero – gravano sugli immobili per riaprire veramente i giochi ai piccoli investitori privati, che sceglievano in passato il solido mattone come forma di risparmio e rivalutazione del capitale.

Ma oggi che i prezzi delle case che hanno raggiunto livelli così bassi, e quindi appetibili, che senso ha tornare a parlare di domanda di seconde case da investimento?

I livelli dei rendimenti nelle 10 grandi città italiane – leggermente in recupero rispetto agli scorsi anni – sembrano far pendere l’ago della bilancia di nuovo sul sì.

L’altra faccia della medaglia sono i canoni d’affitto che gli inquilini sono in grado di sostenere: in media rispetto al 2008 i valori di locazione delle grandi città hanno fatto un passo indietro abbastanza marcato: -15,8%.

Il grosso della caduta è alle spalle, ma nulla vieta che anche quest’anno e il prossimo i valori possano lasciare sul terreno qualche altro punto percentuale, anche se già nell’ultimo semestre del 2014 – secondo il rilevamento effettuato dall’ufficio studi Tecnocasa da cui sono tratti i dati – sono emersi segnali di stabilizzazione.

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Property finder, il «cacciatore di immobili» si fa largo anche in Italia

Property finder, home hunter, buying agent. Sono alcuni dei termini – non a caso, data la diffusione nel mondo anglosassone e la novità invece in Italia, rigorosamente inglesi – utilizzati per definire la figura del “cacciatore di immobili”, il consulente al quale ricorre chi cerca un servizio “su misura” per acquistare o prendere in locazione una proprietà che abbia caratteristiche specifiche, in base alle proprie esigenze, senza rivolgersi ad una agenzia immobiliare “tradizionale” o impegnarsi nella ricerca tra gli annunci.

Si tratta di una professione nata negli Stati Uniti negli anni ’90 e poi diffusasi anche in Europa, dal Regno Unito alla Francia. E che in Italia sta muovendo i primi passi. L’idea è quella di un professionista – non necessariamente un agente immobiliare – che ottiene un “incarico di ricerca” da un potenziale acquirente, disposto a pagare una provvigione più alta, rispetto a quella di una normale agenzia, per farsi trovare la casa “giusta”, che risponda in pieno alle sue esigenze.

Tra i primi a intraprendere la strada del property finding in Italia è stato Luigi Benedetti, agente immobiliare attivo nella provincia di Bologna da nove anni e da sei “cacciatore di case”. «L’agente tradizionale – spiega – parte dall’immobile e cerca qualcuno interessato ad acquistarlo. Il property finder invece fa il percorso inverso: si concentra sul compratore cercando la casa che fa al caso suo. Lavora su incarico del cliente e, se la ricerca si conclude positivamente, ottiene una provvigione media del 5%, invece del 3% di un’agenzia tradizionale».

A luglio scorso Benedetti ha dato vita, insieme a due colleghi (Massmiliano Russo e Valerio Corazzzin), a DesideraRe, primo network dedicato al property finding. «Per ora siamo in sei e operiamo in cinque realtà: da Milano città alle province di Bologna, Genova e Padova – afferma -. Abbiamo fissato alcune regole base, come quella che ciascun professionista, per fornire un servizio di qualità, segua al massimo tre clienti insieme. In generale – continua – la fase cruciale è la selezione del cliente: bisogna accertarsi che sia motivato, abbia idee chiare su cosa vuole e la disponibilità economica per l’acquisto. Altrimenti si rischia un buco nell’acqua. Il nostro servizio non si rivolge solo al segmento lusso, ma anche a chi, magari, cerca la prima casa e non ha tempo per trovarla». L’incarico, di solito, dura tra 30 e 60 giorni. Il property finder, poi, provvede alle verifiche tecniche (urbanistica, catastale, condominiale) fino alla eventuale predisposizione di una proposta d’acquisto.

«Il presupposto per fare questo mestiere è avere una profonda conoscenza del mercato in cui si opera – afferma Benedetti – e sapere utilizzare tutti gli strumenti possibili per scovare la casa giusta per il cliente: agenzie immobiliari (con cui si arriva anche a dividere la provvigione), annunci, portali, imprese di costruzione, attività di marketing dirette sul territorio». Non mancano le difficoltà: «Innanzitutto – prosegue l’agente – la poca predisposizione a collaborare di colleghi e agenzie: anche se ormai, con la crisi, è difficile che ci si lasci sfuggire l’occasione di vendere. L’altro nodo è che in Italia manca un vero sistema basato sulla condivisione di annunci e incarichi».

A dare uno spaccato di come lavora un property finder fuori dai confini nazionali è Gianluca Santacatterina, ceo di Luxury&Tourism, società specializzata da dieci anni nella ricerca di immobili all’estero per la clientela italiana. «Il property finder è il sarto su misura degli investimenti immobiliari. All’estero, soprattutto in Paesi anglosassoni, è una figura riconosciuta, alla quale viene spesso corrisposto un primo compenso già al momento dell’incarico – afferma – Lavorare in città come Londra, New York o Miami è più facile che in Italia perché il mercato è trasparente e la collaborazione tra broker automatica. Attraverso partnership, inoltre, accediamo ai sistemi Mls locali, database condivisi attraverso cui si ha una visuale completa sul mercato immobiliare».


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Italy property: An affordable alternative to Tuscany

Flanked by Italy’s majestic Apennine mountains on one side and 111 miles of coastline on the other, the region of Le Marche is adorned with medieval hilltop villages. These are surrounded by undulating patchwork hills where vineyards, orchards and olive groves thrive.

With such a pedigree, it is hard to understand why Le Marche is often overlooked as a property destination in favour of neighbouring Tuscany.

The Marchigiani people have a strong sense of identity encapsulated by a local motto: ‘all of Italy in one region’. This is good news regarding cuisine, culture and history, but less good about the economy, which has fallen into a triple-dip recession.

“Viewed from the outside and on a macroeconomic level, the Italian economy is in the toilet,” said British expat Michael Hobbs, chairman of property firm Appassionata (

“On a micro-level and living here in Le Marche, matters look different.”

Hit by recession, the local economy undoubtedly has shrunk. “Economic problems exist such as youth unemployment and a decrease in local investment,” said Mr Hobbs. “But small family businesses, often agriculture, cut their cloth accordingly. Being cautious with money and spending wisely helps. Also this is not a credit and mortgage culture, hence Marchigianis do not tend to over extend themselves.”

As a property destination Le Marche is about 35 per cent less expensive than Tuscany according to local estate agent Jane Smith at Magic Marche (, who commented: “A €2 million property here could easily fetch €3 million in Tuscany. Around 50 per cent of our clients today are looking for habitable properties, whereas in the past, 90 per cent sought old farm properties for renovation.”

For those looking for a project, however, this old ruin (above) in Montefiore dell’aso, which dates back to the mid-19th century, is on sale for €150,000 (£118,621) through Magic Marche. It has 250sq m of living space but Ms Smith warned: “Buyers should expect to pay at least double the asking price to make the property habitable.”

Throughout Le Marche there are thousands of derelict farm houses with multiple family ownership, which makes buying complicated. Other potential problems include boundary and right-of-way issues.

One way to avoid the potential pitfalls of Italian property purchase is fractional ownership, which is typically hassle-free and less costly if you plan to use your home for limited residency. Unlike timeshare, with fractional you own a property share outright in perpetuity. For some, this presents an affordable option for that dream property abroad.

Appassionata, a UK-registered fractional company, is based in Le Marche and run as a family business. It specialises in restoring period properties using local artisans and materials whenever possible. The company’s properties are sold as one-tenth shares for five weeks’ annual use.

Appassionata’s latest property is Casa Tre Archi (above and below), a restored townhouse attached to the turrets of Petritoli, a medieval hilltop town which is a 15-minute drive from the Adriatic. The town has an opera house and a range of shops and restaurants.

The townhouse has a 210 sqm living area over three floors and three double bedrooms, plus a dining room and decked garden area off the kitchen. The outside spaces include a 50 sqm roof terrace with unencumbered views across a rolling landscape. A one-tenth fractional share costs £65,000 for five weeks a year.

All Appassionata properties are fully furnished, with Italian art and antiques inclusive in the price. Instead of year-round costs associated with running a freehold property, owners pay an annual management fee that covers everything from local taxes and utilities through to fresh linens and basic provisions upon arrival.


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For sale at one euro: a house in an idyllic Sicilian village

Council in Gangi selling off around 20 homes for the price of a cup of coffee in the hope of attracting new life to hilltop community.

It’s yours for the price of a cup of coffee – a historic house in a terracotta-tiled hill town in Italy.

In fact for the price of a full English breakfast, you could snap up half a dozen of them.

A village in Sicily which has endured decades of population decline and neglect has come up with a novel, and seemingly too-good-to-refuse offer: it is selling off empty homes for just one euro each. That’s 80p at today’s exchange rate.

Gangi is a hill-top town set amid the rolling wheat fields and wooded valleys of central Sicily, about an hour’s drive south of the picturesque holiday resort of Cefalu.

Founded in the 12th century, it boasts a castle and access to hiking trails in the surrounding countryside.

The local council wants to sell around 20 houses, many of them derelict, which were bequeathed by locals who had neither the money nor the will to renovate them.

The bargain-basement prices come with a few conditions, none of which are very onerous or particularly costly.

Buyers must pay a €5,000 (£3,970) guarantee to the local council to ensure that they renovate the properties, rather than just leave them empty. The money will be redeemed once the homes are restored.

Owners have five years in which to bring the houses up to a habitable standard. Most of them are in a state of disrepair, if not derelict, with the cost of renovating them estimated at around €35,000 (£28,000).

Buyers would have to pay the legal costs associated with the purchase – estimated at around €6,000 (£4,760) per property, depending on its taxable value.

Gangi’s council first launched the unusual initiative a couple of years ago, but with none of the councillors speaking English, it received barely any attention and achieved few results.

Now the village of 7,000 people has turned to Marie Wester, an English-speaking, Swedish property consultant who lives in Sicily, to help market the deal.

Through a newsletter she sends out to clients, she has already had interest from four British couples as well as Swedes, Americans and Russians.

“The people of Gangi want to attract foreigners to the town because they want to bring in new life,” Ms Wester told The Telegraph.

“Since I got involved in the sale, there has been massive interest. I think it’s a good deal.”

After living in Italy for seven years, Ms Wester has a shrewd idea of what local builders would charge to undertake the renovation of the properties, all of which are in the historic centre of Gangi.

“The houses need new roofs and floors, you’d need to put in electricity, water and sewerage and re-plaster them at the end of it all. I reckon it would cost about €35,000 per property.

“The only downside I can think of is that the village is not near the coast, but it a lovely medieval town, it’s very clean and well-kept and the people are friendly.”

Two of the houses were bought last week by an expatriate Italian businessman and his Russian wife, who are based in Abu Dhabi.

“They fell in love with our village, with the tranquillity and the clean air,” said Giuseppe Ferrarello, the mayor. “We’ve received more than a hundred telephone calls from Italy and abroad. We are ready to welcome more people with traditional hospitality.”

Gangi may be in the same province as Corleone, the town made notorious for its Mafia links by The Godfather books and films, but foreign buyers need have no fear of Cosa Nostra.

“The Mafia exists, of course, but they are operating at a different level – they are interested in multi-million euro construction projects, not restorations like this,” said Ms Wester. “Some people think that if you come here you’ll see them walking down the street with guns, but it’s not like that.”

The one-euro-a-house offer comes a month after much of a village in the Italian Alps was put on sale on eBay for €245,000 (£195,000).

Calsazio had a population of around 80 a few decades ago but emigration and the drift to the cities by young people has reduced the number of locals still living there to just eight.


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Overseas Fund Managers Drawn To Italys Recovering Property Market

The property market in Italy continues to enjoy a steady flow of overseas fund managers in the wake of its property market recovery. Hedge funds and private equity groups are finding ways to improve exposure as real-estate investors look around for opportunities with lucrative yields in the Italian property market.

Industry giants place their bets on Italy

Quantum Strategic Partners, a private fund steered by Soros Fund Management, invested nearly €19.7 million in one of Italy’s shopping center groups-Immobiliare Grande Distribuzione. The private fund group held a stake of five percent in Immobiliare Grande Distribuzione to become its third biggest investor. Another property fund manager, Prelios SGR, has two funds that are close-ended, Tecla and Olinda. The €400 million fund, Olinda, invests in many retail properties in Italy that include shopping centers, and recently received numerous buyout bids.

Another industry giant that has shown its interest in the Italian property market is Oceano Immobiliare. The Blackstone group put forward a bid aimed at purchasing the Idea Fimit-managed Atlantic 1 real-estate fund. The close-ended fund has nearly €271 million worth of assets that are under management.

Blackstone Senior MD, James Seppala, says that the real-estate market in Italy has noticed an improved investor sentiment on the domestic as well as the overseas front. Property owners are quoting prices that are within the market levels instead of quoting sky-high prices. Due to this, the transaction volumes in 2013 picked up by nearly 80 percent, and the trend is expected to continue in 2014 as well, he added. He explained saying that they tendered the bid as most of the assets are based in Rome and Milan and are rented by institutional tenants.

Structured credit markets

Italian banks are planning on revisiting the balance sheets soon, which is why many investors are planning to enter the property market by purchasing property loans or bonds that are supported by commercial properties. An asset manager who makes notable investments in the structured credit market, says that their firm is currently shifting its focus to Italy. The capital pockets have already been worked on, in terms of both property assets and loans, sources confirmed.

Although the current market in Italy is enticing, the group looks at making its entry into the Italian property market in the coming few years, says the source. Another source from the firm said that for each €100 million worth of non-performing loans that surface in Italy, Spain reports €1 billion worth of non-performing loans. The non-performing loans in Spain are at more distressing levels than those in Italy, he explained. Fund managers have been exploring different real-estate properties in Italy, many of which are headed towards Rome, say sources.

Meanwhile, Ellington Management Group, a hedge fund manager, is drifting away from Italy steering towards other European markets like Ireland, Germany, Spain and the UK, due to the complex legal framework. Purchasing non-performing loans in Italy would limit them as it would be on a basis of making risk adjustments, said Ellington MD, Daniel Turner.


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Buying a Property in Italy

Many people dream of owning property abroad, but are put off by red-tape and what they believe will be a complicated process. Whether you are considering purchasing a house for a holiday getaway or investment, it can be a straightforward and relatively simple procedure. This is part one of a two-part series that will show you how easy it can be to buy in Italy if you follow the basic rules. Today we shall look at the search for a property, making an offer and il compromesso, the agreement to buy.

Looking for a Property

If you are at the beginning of your search, please take a look at our previous story, Six Things to Consider Before Buying a Property in Italy.  Assuming that you have already decided which part of Italy you’d like to buy in, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of exactly what you are looking for; it will save time in the end. Make a note of everything that you want, including the number of bedrooms, kitchen size, outdoor space, garage etc., but also take into consideration minor things that may not seem important at the start, things like do you want balconies or the work that comes with owning an olive grove. Next thing to add to the checklist is the type of property, do you want a new build or something that requires no refurbishment; if you fancy a project, then consider the amount of work you are prepared to do and add your restoration budget into the checklist.

Now that you have your checklist, looking for your ideal property becomes easier. Most people will begin their search on the internet, and there’s no end of websites out there advertising properties for sale. Many will have a search facility that allows you to type in your requirements; this is where a prepared checklist comes in handy and speeds up the process. One thing to be aware of is that many agencies don’t update their sites as often as they should, so it’s important, once you’ve found something you like, to open up a dialogue with them before you book a viewing trip. Ascertain that the property on the webpage is still for sale and that the price is as quoted. If the response is vague and the agent offers to show you similar properties, then you can safely assume that the property is no longer for sale. Many agenzie immobiliari, estate agents, offer viewing trips and, although these can be fun, they will not take your checklist into consideration and you could waste several days looking at properties that are unsuitable. Also not all agents have websites, so a good idea is, if you want to spend time in Italy on a viewing trip, take a day to visit the agencies in town and armed with your checklist, ask them what they have on their books that matches your requirements. You can get a list of agents in your chosen area before you leave for Italy by visiting and clicking on the “Agenzie” tab. Finally don’t rule out private sales, take time to drive around looking for the houses that are displaying vende signs. Private sales will save money on agency fees and may lead to you discovering other gems for sale that are not being advertised.

The Next Step

Once you have found the house you’d like to purchase, the next step is to clarify what is included in the price. If the property comes with land, make sure that you are made aware of the boundaries and if there are any restrictions and also if anyone has rights of access. Before you make a formal offer, you may consider whether or not it is worthwhile hiring a consulente immobiliare, a valuer. If you are buying the house with a mortgage, then the lender will certainly request you get a valuation. If you are a cash buyer then you may want to go with your instinct. In Italy very few people have a formal valuation, but if you want peace of mind the valuer will assess the property worth based on other houses in the area, give you a detailed plan of the house and its land, including any encumbrances and will also be able to advise on the planning status of the property and if there any restrictions that the local council impose in the area. If the property requires work, such as rewiring, plastering or a new bathroom, it is a good idea to get an estimate (il preventivo) for the work, as this can then be factored into your offer. For major jobs, particularly structural work or anything that alters the house footprint, such as adding an internal staircase, you will need to hire a geometra who will liaise with the council on your behalf and obtain any permissions required.

The Offer

Once you are completely satisfied, you can then make an offer and, should that offer be accepted, you will be ready to hire a lawyer (notaio), whose job it is to see that the sale goes through smoothly and efficiently; it’s not unheard of for both the seller and the buyer to use the same lawyer; this can often speed up the process and allays any communication problems. Once you have agreed to purchase the property you will be required to do two things. Pay a deposit as proof of intention to buy and to sign il contratto preliminare, a pre-sale contract, also known as il Compromesso. The contract is binding and, should you pull out, you will lose your deposit and, in some cases, may be asked to pay compensation to the seller, so it is vitally important that you are committed to buying before you reach this stage. Should the vendor pull out of the sale you will be refunded your deposit and, in most cases, the vendor will have to match your deposit as compensation. The contract will stipulate the property dimensions, the land and its boundaries and the actual price to be paid. At this stage, ensure that any extras that have been agreed upon and are included in the sale are also written into the contract. If your purchase is dependent upon achieving a mortgage the contract may have a clause stipulating this, which will safeguard your deposit should the mortgage be declined. Once you have got to this stage in the purchase, it’s not just a case of sitting back and waiting for the lawyers to do their jobs, there’s still much more that you will need to do, but the hardest part is now over, so reward yourself with a glass of something sparkling and start to realise that your dream is almost a reality.


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Six Things to Consider Before Buying a Property in Italy

Many people have a dream of owning a property abroad and despite the fall in sales of Spanish and Portuguese properties and the rise in demand for holiday homes in Bulgaria and Croatia, the Italian market remains constant: in 2012 and 2013 more holiday homes in Italy were purchased by German and English buyers. So, if you are looking to buy yourself a slice of Sicily or a bolt-hole in Bari, here are six things to consider before you start your search.


Whether you’re looking for a holiday home or a permanent residence, make sure you do your research. Italy’s twenty regions are a diverse mix of mountains and valleys and dusty plains and lush grasslands, so finding the one best suited to your needs should be your first priority. For example, Florence has an average winter temperature of two degrees compared to Positano’s nine degrees. Summer temperatures in Calabria can exceed a blistering 32 degrees in comparison to Lombardy’s average of 23, and in May Puglia on average has 37 mm (1.5 inches) of rain, whereas Sicily only experiences a quarter of this. If you’re partial to a spot of skiing then Piemonte or the mountains of Abruzzo would be an ideal place to start your search. If you’re more of a holiday resort lover, then maybe the Venetian lido or Le Marche’s coastal towns will be better suited. The only way to truly decide upon any region is to visit it, and once you have made a decision then revisit at different times of the year; a coastal town may seem exciting when full of beach umbrellas and holiday makers, but how will you feel about it when the tourists have left? The mountainous Abruzzo has charming, ancient villages to explore on a sunny June afternoon, but only those who truly love the place will still see the charm on a dreary February morning.

Holiday Home or Residence

One thing to consider is will the property be a holiday home or a permanent residence. At first you may think that they would both have different considerations, but there’s very little to separate them. Obviously for a holiday home two of the most important things to think about are proximity to an airport and transport links and, importantly, security is an issue during the weeks when it will be unoccupied. If you are choosing to locate permanently consider if you need to find work. Your chance of obtaining employment will be increased if you are closer to a major town or city. If you are hoping to set up a business this will require serious consideration; will there be the same demand for English language lessons in rural Basilicata as for holiday accommodation in Sardinia? But before you make any decision, consider this, many holiday home owners eventually become full time residents when they decide to retire.


What type of property would tick all your boxes? Some people will be content with an apartment and sea view, whilst others may prefer a townhouse on a piazza or a rural retreat. Pay close attention to the type of house that you think will suit you as you may find your requirements change during your search. A townhouse that’s tucked up a cobbled vicolo may have a traditional charm, but consider how far away the nearest parking spaces are. If you want to come completely absorbed into everyday Italian life, then a townhouse may be ideal, but don’t forget to factor in the sound of late night revelry during the summer festivals. A rural property has its own pros and cons: a positive is the tranquillity and, if you’re lucky, spectacular views coupled with the opportunity to grow your own produce. However, on the downside is the prospect of being snowed in during winter, the distance from local amenities and periods of isolation.

Habitable or Restoration

A house for restoration may seem a bargain in comparison to a new build, but before you even consider viewing anywhere, sit down with a calculator and start doing your research. A tumbledown farmhouse on a hillside may make a perfect restoration project, but will it be cost-effective? Look out for those hidden costs such as converting its use from a previous farming property to an urban residence. Make sure you check the land boundaries and if anyone has a contract to work it: it won’t help your relationship with the locals if you suddenly tell Nino that, despite a long-standing agreement, his family can no longer grow their artichokes on your land. If you have decided on the locality where you wish to buy, make enquiries at the comune (council) offices about the cost of obtaining work permission and any restrictions. I personally know someone who had to repaint the outside of their house as the colour they had originally chosen was not on the council’s list of acceptable colours. Habitable in Italy has a completely different meaning than the English or American definition; in Italy, habitable can refer to anything with a roof and four walls, it may not mean the building has windows and it certainly won’t indicate that all services are connected. One thing to also point out is, if you view a property that is furnished, make sure you ask what is included in the purchase price. More often than not, when vacating a property, the vendor will, apart from the bathroom’s sanitary ware, remove everything including the light bulbs. If you want the kitchen fittings, then you’ll need to negotiate a price and have the purchase written into your contract to buy.


Italian people are mostly hospitable towards foreigners and welcome both the increased financial support they bring to the community and the development of redundant properties. If your grasp of the language is limited, then it might help to consider more populated areas where the possibility of meeting local people with working knowledge of your native language is higher. In more rural locations, if you need the security of your native language, make an important part of your search the need to enquire if there’s an expat community nearby. Maybe consider joining one of the many forums online and use this to determine if the area you have selected has any pockets of expats nearby.


Finally, to be doubly sure you’ve made the right decision regarding location and house type, it’s a good idea to rent for a period of time that is longer than the usual two-week break, and if this isn’t possible, most definitely rent out of season. Renting will give you the opportunity to truly experience the day-to-day life around you, whilst giving you the opportunity to make friends, which in turn may lead you to discover your dream house in Italy. This said whatever and wherever you choose to buy, the important thing is to enjoy the experience.


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