IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON PURCHASING A HOUSE IN ITALY.
There are no restrictions placed upon non-residents wishing to purchase a house in Italy, be they from Europe or elsewhere.
When searching for a house in Italy it is strongly recommended that you use an estate agent fully licensed by the Chamber of Commerce.
Please remember that estate agents in Italy represent both the buyer and the seller and aim to negotiate to reach a settlement favorable to both parties.
There are two words in particular that you must be familiar with they are "Compromesso" and "Rogito" These are the two contractual stages to owning a home in Italy. The Compromesso is the preliminary contract whereby you secure your purchase with a deposit called a "caparra" . The Rogito is the final contract i.e: the sale of the house is finalized.
If you find your dream house and you want to make an offer, the estate agent may ask you to sign a "Proposta irrevocabile d'acquisto " – an irrevocable purchase agreement – which is signed by buyer and seller when you have agreed on the price, and which identifies both parties, the property in question, and gives an expiry date for signing the compromesso (see below). When you sign you pay a deposit by cheque in any currency for the equivalent of usually 5-10% of the price, which is not cashed but held by the notary or the agency, and returned to you when you sign the compromesso. If you change your mind you will forfeit the deposit, as the owner will have effectively taken the property off the market for a certain period of time. If the sale does not go ahead in the specified date through no fault of your own, then your deposit will be returned to you.
Property Checks and Searches
Before any sale can be completed there are a number of searches and checks to be carried out on the property. Those responsible for these checks are the Geometra (Local surveyor) and the Notaio (Public Notary). If these searches reveal any problems regarding the sale of the property then the sale cannot be completed. Usually, these checks and searches take two to three weeks to carry out.
Checks carried out by the Geometra
The property matches the Land Registry definition
The property was not built without planning permission
Any work or extensions done, have received approval and have had the relevant taxes paid
The owners as Land Registry Office are the same as stated by the vendor
Preliminary Contract – Compromesso
If a price is agreed upon between the vendor and buyer for the property a preliminary contract or "Compromesso" is drawn up.
The Compromesso is composed of:
Description of the Vendor and Buyer
Description of the property to be sold
The Sale Price
The deposit (caparra or deposito) varies but is usually around a third of the Sale price.
Date of the Final Contract (Rogito)
The Compromesso is proof of intention to buy and is binding in a court of law if the Compromesso is registered with the local Registration Tax office. Once both you and the vendor have signed the Compromesso you are both committed to the transfer of the property. You may still withdraw at risk of losing your deposit. The vendor may also withdraw from the Compromesso but will have to return the double the deposit plus pay a penalty. Under these terms, a Compromesso contract is very rarely broken and inevitably leads to the signing of the final contract or " Rogito"
Cost = deposit of 30% of Sale price approx.
Tax Code - Codice Fiscale
Assuming all goes well (and you don't want to lose your deposit), you will want to buy the house and sign the final contract (Rogito). But, before doing so you will need to have a tax code called a Codice Fiscale in order for you to pay tax on the building. The Codice Fiscale works in much the same way as a National Insurance number and is easy to apply for.
Final Contract - Rogito
A few months after signing the Compromesso, the Rogito or final contract is signed. The Rogito is a legally binding document and requires the presence of an official called a "Notaio" or Notary/Lawyer. He oversees the signing of the Rogito registers the Rogito to the Land Registry and collects the tax on the property (hence the need for a Codice fiscale).
The Rogito will consist of :
Description of the property and Land for Sale
The Date of the Sale
Name of the vendor and the new buyer, i.e. you
The purchase price
The Declared value of the property - the Declared value is often considerably less than the Sales Price as it is based on official Land Registry price tables and is used to calculate the Property Tax.
The process goes as follows: The Notaio, the Vendor and yourself will all be present (unless you appoint a legal power of attorney to represent you). The Notaio will want to know that the buyer has given proof of good credit to the seller and will be able to pay the sale price. Having satisfied this question, (usually a banker's guarantee) the Notaio will go on to read out the Rogito.
If, however, you do not speak Italian you can have a "scrittura privata " (a simplified version of the contract) read out by the Notaio and directly translated by a representative. Having read out the Rogito, the Notaio, the vendor, and yourself will all sign the Rogito. The Notaio will then register the sale with the Land Registry.
Residency - Residenza
If you are thinking of staying at your Italian home for more than just summer you may consider taking up residence in Italy. Your rights as a European citizen are protected. However, the cost of being a non-resident in Italy can be quite expensive; not only property tax but also amenities such as water, electricity, and telephone bills are often as much as 50% more for non-residents!
NOTE: To claim purchase tax as a resident on your property you must claim residency within 1 year of signing the Rogito.
There are also running costs to consider when purchasing a house in Italy and generally include the following:
Property taxes (rates)
Utilities (electricity, gas, telephone, water)
Waste or Garbage tax ( tasse comunale dei rifuti)
Community fees (Spese del condominio - only applicable if you are part owner of a community building or land e.g. an apartment in a block of flats.)
Swimming pool maintenance