“I am a foreign citizen. How can I buy a house in Italy?”
We write this article to answer this and other questions that are often asked of us by foreign citizens who intend to buy a house in Italy and don’t know how to do it.
Our goal is to create a simple and essential guide, with all the main steps that must be taken to reach what for many is the childhood dream: buying a house in the “bel paese”.
We will deal with the purchase methods relating to properties in Tuscany, an area of our specific competence. Except in special cases, all the indications are however also good for homes located in other parts of Italy.
So let’s see everything you need to know to buy a house in Italy when you are a foreign citizen, step by step.
- TO START
- WHAT DO I NEED
- STEPS NEEDED TO PURCHASE
- CAN I BUY A HOUSE IN ITALY FROM ABROAD
- HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUY A HOUSE IN ITALY?
- WHAT ARE THE YEARLY EXPENSES?
The first thing to ask yourself is the most obvious, but not for this reason the answer is the simplest: what house do I want to buy?
In fact, each buyer has his own needs, which will lead him to select a specific area and precise characteristics that the house must have. For example, we are talking about the proximity to the sea or to the countryside, the number of rooms, the presence of a garden, the view and so on.
Once you have clarified your ideas, in addition to checking the various advertisements on the web, we always recommend to contact a real estate professional directly. The agent, in addition to having the experience to manage a sale with international customers, can also offer you, once your needs are known, preview houses that are not yet present on the web, but which are already inside his agency.
The first step is therefore the fundamental one.
WHAT DO I NEED
Once the right property has been identified, let’s see what it takes to be able to buy a house in Italy if you are foreigners.
A bilateral agreement between countries
For citizens belonging to the European Union, there are no particular restrictions for the purchase of a property in Italy.
However, the situation changes when we talk about Extra-Community buyers. In this specific case, in order to proceed with the purchase of a property, the respective countries need to have signed a Bilateral Agreement for trade and investment. This agreement serves to ensure that citizens of both nations can, freely and with equal rights, do business in each other’s nation.
You can check if there are agreements between Italy and the various non-European nations in these archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
The Italian Tax Code
The tax code is a particular code consisting of 16 alphanumeric characters, unique for each person, necessary in Italy to record and check data relevant to the tax authorities. In our specific case it is essential to register the contracts and pay the related taxes. The tax code is necessary for all foreigners, even for citizens of the European Community.
The tax code can be requested by foreign citizens, Europeans or non-EU citizens, directly from one of the offices of the “Agenzia delle Entrate” on the Italian territory, or even from abroad. In this case it will be necessary to contact the Italian Consulate present in your country of origin.
STEPS NEEDED TO PURCHASE
Once the property has been identified, the presence of bilateral agreements between the two countries has been verified and the tax code has been obtained, it is possible to start the negotiation for the purchase.
To begin the negotiation, it is first necessary to sign a buying proposal, in which will be written all the data of the buyer, the seller and the property, together with the clauses for the purchase. Information that mainly concern the price offered, the expire date of the proposal, the payment methods and deadlines, the date by which the deed has to be signed and so on.
This proposal can be accepted by the seller or rejected. In the first case you will then get a real contract that binds both sides, in the second case you will have to review the offer and change some parameters on the proposal to meet the seller’s needs.
Often with properties of modest value, upon acceptance of the purchase proposal, a preliminary contract is already concluded, which will be followed directly by the deed.
However, there are some cases in which one or both sides need to make a further agreement to better define the details of the sale before the final deed. This is called a preliminary contract.
Often this agreement provides for the payment of an additional sum of money before the final balance due at the deed.
The purchase of a property will be closed by the Notary. Here the rest payment of the price is paid, the contract is signed and possession of the property is transferred by handing over the keys to the house.
Each contract stipulated between buyer and seller must be registered at the “Agenzia delle Entrate”. The registration of the contract is normally carried out by the Real Estate Agent or by the Notary and is needed principally to pay the taxes due.
The registration of the contract at the Land Registry, on the other hand, is carried out exclusively by the Notary once the deed has been signed. Only after this registration does one become legally the owner of the property.
CAN I BUY A HOUSE IN ITALY FROM ABROAD?
The answer is yes.
It is possible to buy a house in Italy even from abroad, without having to physically come to sign the deed.
This operation can be carried out through the use of a “power of attorney“. A contract with which it is possible to instruct a third person who is in Italy to purchase a property on our behalf.
The power of attorney is set by the Italian Notary, sent to the foreign buyer who must sign it in front of a Notary in his own country. Then he must apply an Apostille to the power of attorney that certifies it. The Apostille can be requested from your Secretary of State or from the Italian Embassy, depending on the country.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUY A HOUSE IN ITALY?
It is impossible to give the right answer to this question without knowing all the details of the property you intend to purchase. However, we can give general information on what the expected expenses might be:
Registering a contract has a fixed cost of € 232.00.
The purchase taxes are different if the house is purchased as a “residence home”, that means the house where you are used to live most of the time, or as a “holiday home”, therefore for holidays or short periods of staying. There are fixed taxes and taxes that vary according to the cadastral value of the property.
Real estate agency fees vary according to the selling price.
Notary fees vary according to the value of the property and the type of sale.
Once you have choosen the house to buy, we will be able to provide a precise and detailed estimate of all the expenses indicated above.
WHAT ARE THE YEARLY EXPENSES?
The fixed costs to be paid once you become the owner of a house in Italy are different and often vary according to the value of the property. Let’s see them in detail:
IMU: is the annual property tax and varies according to the Municipality where the house is located and its cadastral value.
TARI: is the annual waste tax. This also varies according to the house and the Municipality where it is located.
CONSORTIUM OF REMEDIATION: it is a small annual contribution for the maintenance of the territory.
UTILITIES: water, electricity and gas bills obviously vary according to the quantity consumed. However, we can indicate broadly what are the fixed costs that must in any case be paid even in the case of zero consumption. Approximately € 200 / year for each energy meter available is to be considered.
This article came up to be a help for all those who intend to approach the purchase of a house in Italy, through the simplified explanation of the basic steps required. A small guide to give a general knowledge of the sale process starting from the search of the property up to the deed.
Let’s not forget that buying a property is still one of the most important and complex operations to do. So we know that it would be impossible to define simply with a guide.
We therefore invite anyone who may be interested in taking this path to contact us in order to receive the assistance needed to buy a house accompanied by a competent and professional team.
Your home in Italy is waiting for you, don’t miss it! Check out our houses for sale in Tuscany and find your dream home!