Property Purchase Procedure – Italy
Italy’s legal system establishes strict procedures for property transfer, making it quite straightforward for expats to buy a house. An experienced real estate lawyer can help prevent any misunderstanding of these procedures and can assist in the various stages involved.
Start the process.
Buying property in Italy usually begins with searching or choosing a property. You can do this yourself or with the help of an agent (Agente Immobiliare). Italian law states that an agent must be registered with the local Chamber of Commerce. Agents that are not registered may be liable to certain penalties and may have to forfeit the commission on the sale of a property.
Found the property.
Once you have selected the property, you can make an offer. The buyer is usually asked to make a small payment to the seller, which is about 1% of the property price and considered as a gesture of good faith. Since the offer is not binding on the seller, you may specify a time limit in the buying proposal.
If the seller accepts the offer, a preliminary contract (contratto preliminare or compromesso) is drawn up by the seller, agent or lawyer. This contract is legally binding on both the buyer and seller, and contains the purchase price, deposit sum, completion date, details of the property and other applicable clauses. Once both parties sign the contract, the deposit is increased to 10-20 % of the purchase price. If a buyer chooses not to go ahead with the purchase at this stage, the contract is either forfeited or the seller may enforce the purchase through legal action. If a seller opts out of the purchase, the buyer may be eligible to receive double the deposit amount.
In the next step, in the presence of a public notary you will be required to pay the final balance and sign the deed of sale (rogito). Your valid identification document and tax code is required at this stage. The notary, who is appointed by the seller, acts on behalf of both parties and issues a certified copy of the deed. The document is also presented to the tax office and land registry, and after you have paid the necessary government duties, official registration takes place. It takes approximately 15 days to register a property in Italy. The notary ensures that the legal registration is in order and that the utilities are transferred to your name. It is also the notary’s job to conduct any necessary searches of the property before the final signing can take place. The notary’s fee ranges from 1-2.5% of the declared property value. This fee is based on the property price list of the Bar Association and depends on the town council. You pay the fee once you sign the final deed.
Individuals that are unable to be present at the signing of contracts may issue a document giving power of attorney to a legal representative.
The registration tax for buying a property in Italy is 3% for individuals buying their main and first residence, 7% for non-residents and those buying their second residence, 8% for the purchase of building land and 10% for agricultural land.
Land registry tax, which must be paid on all property transactions, is a fixed fee of €168 for those buying their first home. There are first-time buyer benefits, which translate into reduced purchase taxes for residents. To avail these benefits, you need to state in your deed that you will establish residence or headquarters of your business in the same municipal territory as the property’s location within 18 months from the purchase date. Non-residents and those buying their second residence need to pay a land registry tax of 1% of the declared purchase price.
Buyers of new properties have to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) instead of registration tax. Residences that are sold in 5 years of construction or restoration are termed as new properties. VAT of 4% is applicable to buyers of their first residence, 10% for non-residents and buyers of their second residence and 21% for luxury homes.
If there is an agency involved, the agent’s fee, which is usually 3-8%, is shared by both buyer and seller. This is paid when the preliminary contract is signed.