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Many Americans (and not only) dream of buying real estate abroad. Italy deservedly leads in the list of the most popular countries for such acquisitions with its unique climate, nature, sea coasts, and mountain resorts.
Let’s figure out how such transactions occur in accordance with Italian law.
Step 1. Selecting a Region
The seas wash Italy on three sides; the Alps separate it from mainland Europe, and the Apennines stretch from north to south of the country. Therefore, when choosing a region, you need to rely on your preferences – seaside resorts, ski resorts, or places for “green” tourism at the foot of the Alps.
It is worth remembering that the northern regions, which include Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige (Trentino-South Tyrol), are considered the most suitable for the criminogenic situation. If the place is chosen correctly, then it will not be any problem to let the property for an extended period and find it in pristine condition after a while. In Veneto, there are seaside resorts of the Adriatic, pre-Alpine zones for “green” tourism and ski resorts. Trentino Alto Adige – zone of the Dolomites.
From an environmental point of view, the north of the country is also more interesting – most of the “dirty” industries and factories were historically built in the port cities of southern Italy.
In Veneto, the locals speak Italian and a Venetian dialect; in Trentino, they speak Italian and German (South Tyrol).
Step 2. Choosing a City
When choosing a city to purchase housing, you need to remember that in Italy, people live everywhere. The small size of the country and excellent roads allow Italians to get to the benefits of civilization from any village quickly. Therefore, if it is impossible to travel around all the places on your own, you need to use the capabilities of Google maps and carefully examine the surroundings for the location of unwanted objects there: power plants, gypsy camps / parking lots, abandoned industrial zones. In addition, it is helpful to look up information about the city in the Italian version of Wikipedia.
The advantages when choosing will be the presence of a hospital, carabinieri, shopping malls, shops, and pharmacies. Additional benefits are the nearby railway stations and international airports.
Step 3. Property Search
The housing selection can be assigned to a trusted real estate agency or agent, but it is better to do it yourself with the help of Italian sites where all the sales ads are collected. There are many of them, one of the largest is casa.it. By entering the region, province, and commune in the search and the type of housing (apartment, house) and price range, you can view the latest offers and, if necessary, get the coordinates of the seller’s agency for free.
You cannot trust photos 100%. In reality, excellent photographs may hide a shabby apartment in an uninhabitable place. Behind the indistinct photos, there will be a marvelous house in an old park. You should not rush to give a deposit without looking at the home.
Step 4. The Procedure for Buying Property in Italy
The procedure for buying a home in Italy differs significantly from the process in other countries and consists of:
- The offer from the Buyer to the Seller to purchase at the asking price or a lower price. The offer is accompanied by a 1,000 to 10,000 euro bank check. You can give cash in the amount of 800 to 990 euros (limited by the law on the maximum amount of cash circulation). If the Seller accepts the Buyer’s offer and the Buyer refuses the deal, the Seller will keep the deposit. If the Seller does not agree to the proposed price, then the auction continues, or the Seller offers a price lower than stated initially, for which he is ready to sell. In this case, in case of refusal to accept the counter offer, the Buyer does not lose the deposit.
Example 1. An apartment for sale for 100 thousand euros. The Buyer offers the Seller 90, enclosing a check for 2,000 euros. The seller agrees to sell for 90 thousand euros. The accepted check is considered an advance for an additional payment of 88 thousand euros.
Example 2. A house is for sale for 300 thousand euros. The buyer makes an offer for 250, enclosing a check for 10,000. The seller disagrees and makes a counter offer for 270,000 euros. If the Buyer agrees, the transaction will take place for 270 thousand euros, and the check will be considered an advance for an additional payment of 260 thousand euros.
Example 3. A chalet in the mountains is for sale for 170 thousand euros. The Buyer offers the Seller 140 thousand euros and encloses cash in the amount of 990 euros. The Seller accepts the offer, but the Buyer changes plans and backs out of the deal. The deposit remains with the Seller.
The proposal is made in writing in a standard form. The usual period of its validity is from 10 days to 1 month. This document defines the dates on which the transaction must be completed if the offer is accepted by the Seller and the special conditions relating to the property.
- The Buyer chooses a notary for the execution of the transaction. The Seller and the Buyer provide the notary with all the necessary documents to draw up the sale deed. The notary checks them and sets the date of the transaction. The Buyer at this stage has to provide only identity documents and the Italian tax code and must open an account with an Italian bank to pay for notary services and the property itself. The cost of the work of a notary office includes all taxes, state duties, and registration fees, so you will not have to pay anything extra. The tax paid by non-residents when buying real estate is now 9% of the cadastral value.
- Signing the act of sale at the notary with the transfer of bank checks for payment in his presence.
- The registration of the act in the tax office (included in the cost of notary services and done by him).
Step 5. Postscript
If everything is done correctly, the Buyer will have no problems with such housing.
The following features that may arise while buying a house in Italy should be noted.
- Selling to foreigners makes many Italians want to “cheat a little”. And sometimes, they succeed. Therefore, it is better to find an Italian lawyer on the spot who will be present at all stages of the transaction, from drafting an offer to signing the final act. His presence disciplines all parties, and the deal will have no problems. The cost of a lawyer’s services depends on the property’s value and can range from 1,000 to 10,000 euros.
- If there is no lawyer, then you need to clearly understand that you cannot buy real estate if the restructuring and redevelopment are not included in the cadastre. Any changes must be legalized.
- You cannot purchase real estate for housing listed in the cadastre as non-residential premises. According to it, there will be problems with executing contracts for gas, electricity, water, and garbage disposal. The Seller must transfer the property’s purpose from non-residential to residential before signing the transaction.
- You need to look at the technical condition of the property carefully. It is better if the repair is old and all the defects are visible – often, severe cracks in the walls and an untreated fungus are hidden behind the new plaster, which will show itself in the worst way in a year.
In general, there is nothing complicated in buying a home in Italy. The procedure for purchasing property in Italy is quite transparent and straightforward. The main thing is not to rush anywhere and calmly weigh your every step when making a decision and processing documents.