Guide to buying a property in Italy
Buying a property in Italy by foreigners
All foreigners can buy a property in Italy even if they do not live there. Due to the “condition of reciprocity”, a Swiss citizen wishing to buy in Italy is subject to the Lex Koeller, just as this applies vice versa to Italian citizens wishing to buy in Switzerland.
This law sets the parameters within which the purchase is possible (in general, the living area must not exceed 200 m2 and the land area no more than 1000 m2).
Nevertheless, it is possible to obtain some exemptions, which may vary depending on the property or the type of buyer.
The profession of real estate agent in Italy
In Italy, in order to be a real estate agent, you must be in possession of a licence in good standing and must be entered in the Companies Register with a special provincial code (REA, Repertorio Economico Amministrativo) issued by the Chamber of Commerce.
The entry in the register is publicly accessible free of charge.
For the sake of transparency and fairness, we specify that we only work and collaborate with authorised and licensed real estate agents in order to offer a highly professional service.
Offer to purchase
This is the document by which the buyer makes his offer to the seller in terms of price and timing of payments.
If it is submitted by the real estate agency, it also provides for the remuneration agreed with the latter.
In Italy, the agent’s commission is paid by both parties (buyer and seller) and is approximately 3% of the agreed price (but in some cases can vary from a minimum of 2% to a maximum of 5% depending on the property and location).
The offer, once accepted by the seller, provides for the payment of a deposit (to confirm the purchase or as a penalty, if applicable), which will be agreed between the parties.
The offer to purchase has legal force and is binding on both parties.
The document is registered with the tax office within 20 days of its issue.
The preliminary purchase agreement is an important (more precisely, the most important and widely used) contractual instrument by which the parties intending to buy/sell a property agree to regulate such a transition through a set of written rules designed to legally bind the same parties to sell and buy the property.
It can also be drawn up without first signing the offer to purchase and is a more detailed document than the offer.
It is usually drawn up by a notary.
The preliminary contract must contain all the minimum details of the real estate sale, such as the consent of the parties, the exact description of the real estate object to be sold (address, characteristics, cadastral data – it is good to attach the plans to the preliminary contract as well), and the sale price.
If the essential elements are missing, the preliminary contract, even if it is in written form, is considered invalid.
Usually, the buyer pays 10%-20% of the agreed purchase price as a deposit when concluding the preliminary contract, a percentage that may vary depending on the negotiations.
The notarial deed is a public document signed by an impartial notary who does not represent either party.
Before the final signature, the notary verifies the title of the seller, the regularity of the property in relation to the applicable laws, any mortgages encumbering the property, any pending issues with the property management or the tax authorities.
The notary also checks the rights and obligations under any existing tenancy agreements, the insurance policy, the condominium owners’ regulations and the minutes of the last condominium owners’ meetings, the amounts of approved works and any ongoing legal proceedings.
At this stage, it is the notary’s task to determine whether the property’s characteristics comply with the above-mentioned conditions of the Lex Koeller.
The balance of the price is paid into the notary’s account, who transfers the sum to the vendor after carrying out all the checks and settling any balances.
Once the notarial deed is executed, the notary will transmit the transfer of ownership to the Registry Office.
Costs of the real estate purchase/sale
Costs arising from technical surveys of the property (asbestos, lead, termites, surfaces, etc.) are usually borne by the seller.
Notary costs are borne by the buyer and are calculated from the notary fee, legal fees and taxes for the transfer of ownership of a property.
To find out exactly how much these costs are, you can contact us for an accurate estimate based on the value of the property you wish to buy.
The Imposta Municipale Unica (IMU) is a tax levied twice a year and based on the cadastral rental value of the property.
However, those who are not resident in Italy only have to pay this tax if their estimated income exceeds a certain threshold.
As these values vary, we recommend that you consult a local accountant/tax advisor.