Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Italian Property

Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Italian Property

What is a notary? 

A notary is a qualified lawyer who is employed by the Italian government. When you are buying Italian property, it is a notary who conducts the legal transfer of a property from vendor to buyer, and prepares the deed of sale, checks there are no charges on the property, title issues and with the assistance of a technician such as a geometra or architect, checks the property conforms to all planning issues.

It is always the buyer and not the vendor who pays the purchase taxes due and who pays the notary fees also. This means that it is up to the buyer which notary is used. In practice it is usually one of the local notaries and we can recommend which one to use and which one is cheapest, as notary prices do vary.

We provide a detailed list of all fees and taxes (including the notary’s quote) before you sign any contracts.

Translator – if you do not speak fluent, enough to understand detailed legal contracts, you will need to have a translator at the notary deed. Your agent or the notary will usually arrange this so you don’t need to worry about it. The cost varies but is often 200-300 euros. This can sometimes be shared with the vendor if they are also non fluent in Italian.

What taxes are payable for a property purchase in Italy? 

This depends on two things.
A. Are you buying as a resident or a non resident?
B. Are you buying from private individuals or from a company?

If you are buying from private individuals, then the taxes you pay are based on the cadastral value – a nominal value which each property has and which depends on its size, location, standard etc – nothing to do with the market value.

Example 1:
House price agreed €100,000.
Property belongs to private sellers.
Cadastral value of the property €32,000.

Let’s say you intend buying the house as a non resident (.ie. you do not intend moving to Italy permanently and applying for residency).
Taxes payable are 9% on cadastral value €32,000 so €2,880 plus a few smaller fixed taxes.

Or, if you intend moving to live in the house permanently, applying for Italian residency, then as long as you don’t already own another property in Italy;
Taxes payable are 2% on cadastral value €32,000 so €640 plus a few smaller fixed taxes. A minimum figure may be payable.

Please note, you could buy the house as a resident and pay the lower rate of tax if you intend moving there and obtaining residency within the next 18 months. Don’t be tempted to do this unless you are definitely sure you will become a resident. If you then do not, you need to pay the difference in taxes plus a penalty of around 30%.

If there is substantial land (not just a garden) with the property, then 18% is payable on the value attributed to the land, which can be quite low.

Example 2:
House price €100,000
Property is being sold by a company
Cadastral value of the property is €32,000

Let’s say you intend buying the house as a non resident (i.e. you do not intend moving to Italy permanently and applying for residency).
Taxes payable are 10% VAT on full market price €100,000 so €10,000 plus a few smaller fixed taxes.

Or, if you intend moving to live in the house permanently, applying for Italian residency, then as long as you don’t already own another property in Italy,
Taxes payable are 4% VAT on €100,000 so €4,000 plus a few smaller fixed taxes.

Once we know
– which house you want to buy, its cadastral value and who owns it (company/individual)
– whether you intend to buy as a resident/non resident and if it’s your first property in Italy

only then can we ask the notary to provide a quote for the precise taxes payable.

Taxes would be different for a commercial purchase, eg if your company is buying an Italian company. Further details on request.

What other purchase costs are there?

Notary fees – approx 1%, more for a lower priced property due to some fixed taxes.

Agency fees – in Italy both buyer and seller pay the agent. These are payable to the Italian agent at compromesso (preliminary contract) stage and for each party are usually 3% plus VAT. VAT is 22% in Italy. Minimums apply.

Compromesso registration fees – approx €380 plus a part payment of taxes which is deducted from the total taxes due at completion.

Translator for the deed signing at the notary’s office. Required if you do not speak Italian well enough to understand legal deeds. Approx cost €250 – €350 depending on the notary.

Technical report for the notary.  Checks all the planning issues of the property, making sure it matches the official plans, no works have been carried out without permission, gathers all previous permits, checks the house is sellable and not illegal in any way. Carried out by a geometra, architect or engineer and costs vary considerably, a minimum of €761 including VAT/ Please note this report is NOT a structural survey, that is an optional additional report you may wish to instruct.

What annual costs are there? How should I pay them? 

Local council tax – TASI (formerly IMU/ICI) (needs to be paid twice a year at the post office – no bill is sent.)

Refuse tax

In some areas, mountain community tax

If you buy a property which is part of a condominium, e.g. with shared pool and grounds, lighting etc, then there will be annual condominium fees to pay which usually range from about €200 to €1000/year unless it is a particularly luxurious property with many amenities in which case costs could be higher.

Utilities

Do I need an Italian bank account?

You don’t really need an Italian bank account for buying a property in Italy any more as money is usually sent by bank transfer, although some notaries insist the funds are sent from an Italian account set up by you.

You could of course open an account to handle bills but bear in mind that some utilities companies refuse to arrange direct debits for non resident accounts, and some bills cannot be paid by direct debit.
You could always pay your bills online or if you have a property manager then send them the funds for settling all the bills.
If you do intend opening an Italian bank account, bear in mind that Italian bank charges are high . Usually there is a monthly fee to pay, plus charges for receiving money, paying bills, sending statements, etc etc.

How will Brexit affect British people wanting to buy property in Italy?

Many British people have asked us what the UK leaving the EU means for those wanting to buy property in Italy.

Firstly of course, and most importantly, the current situation will not change until we actually leave the EU, so not for about 2 years.
The current situation is this – anyone from any country can buy a property in Italy, whether they are from the EU, non EU countries in Europe, the USA, China or anywhere else in the world!

So British people post Brexit will still be able to buy property in Italy.

When you buy a property in Italy now (whatever nationality you are) you can buy as a resident or a non resident. As a non resident, it is a second home, not your main residence in the world. You can go there whenever you like, rent it out, etc. As a resident, you are stating that it is your main residence, where you live for over half the year. The purchase taxes are lower if you buy as a resident.

Currently, non EU property owners can buy as residents or non residents and need a visa if they intend to stay at their property for a period of over 3 months at a time. If they wish to work in Italy they need a work permit, provided by their prospective employer.

So we can only assume that post Brexit, the situation will be the same for British people as it is for non EU buyers now, i.e. exactly the same as for EU buyers with the exception of the requirement of a visa when staying over 3 months at a time, and a work permit if working in Italy.

Those buying in Italy now, pre Brexit, will not be thrown out of the country, just as those people from other EU countries in Britain now will be allowed to stay.

Of course we can’t predict the future or guarantee that the above will be the case, there are lots of decisions to be made, so buying in the next 2 years, pre Brexit, is probably wisest if you are worried about future changes.

If you are concerned about exchange rate fluctuations, you can fix a rate now with our currency dealer, see below.

Internet

If you need the internet at your Italian property and the area you are in is not connected to ADSL, then many people use internet keys/dongles which plug in to your laptop usb and connect to the internet via 3G. This should work well anywhere where there is a mobile signal. Alternatively,
an exciting new solution for getting ultra fast internet anywhere, even in the most rural of areas is satellite technology, constantly fast – 20 mbs download and 6 Mbps upload. Users can easily watch on demand TV – BBC iPlayer etc. You can also use Skype to call anywhere. Starting from €19.99/month. Company run by an English expat who will take care of everything including installation. Just ask us for more details – info@casatuscany.com

How long does it take to buy a property in Italy?

It depends on the situation of the buyer and seller. If the buyer is ready to go and the house is vacant, about 6 – 8 weeks is usual. Quite often paperwork has to be prepared, registrations or plans updated, occasionally there are planning issues sorted out, and this means it can take longer. It also depends on whether you are coming in person or arranging power of attorney, as this takes a bit longer to arrange too. If the property is vacant, and all paperwork is up-to-date it is possible to buy immediately, as soon as we can make an appointment with the notary.

What if I find a house I love and don’t want to lose it?

In Italy it is possible to sign a purchase agreement (a ‘Proposta Irrevocabile d’Acquisto’) which reserves the property for you for usually about a month maximum until you sign the compromesso (preliminary contract). A deposit is required (usually €2000 – €10,000) which is held by the agency and returned to you at compromesso, or which becomes a payment on account. If you change your mind about buying you would lose your deposit, but you are protected against any legal or planning issues should they arise.

Can I find a large habitable farmhouse to restore in good structural condition with original features, lots of land, outbuildings, views, possibility of income, all services connected, private but not isolated, within walking distance of a village, less than an hour to the airport etc for a very low price?

Of course everyone wants this sort of property. It’s important to be realistic about prices. Have a good look at our website to get a feel for prices. You can of course find properties for low prices, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find a habitable, large building with scope for development for 50,000 euros. If you have a low budget, consider a village house, apartment or restoration to carry out over time. Remember Tuscany is expensive in most areas, sought after, and rustic properties to restore are becoming scarcer and scarcer.

Are the advertised prices negotiable?
As anywhere else, some are, some aren’t. It depends on the owners and how quickly they would like to sell, and how long it’s been on the market etc. In general, the lower the price the less negotiable it is.

Can you help me arrange a mortgage?

To take out a mortgage on an Italian property you have to go through an Italian bank (or a foreign bank which has branches in Italy). If you find a property with us our agents will assist you in obtaining a mortgage or alternatively you could be pre-approved through a broker such as Simon Conn who has contacts with many Italian banks and can find you the best deal.

Bear in mind that quite a lot of documentation is required by Italian banks and the future rental income of the property will not be taken into account, you need to provide information about your income and financial status.

Only properties that are habitable and accessible can be mortgaged.

For non-residents who wish to obtain a mortgage in Italy, usually the most you can borrow is about 50-60% LTV. If you are approved the minimum a bank will lend you is €50,000, but some banks have higher minimums.

The cost of arranging a mortgage can be quite high with arrangement fees to pay as well as a government tax of 2% of the amount borrowed, in addition to an extra notary deed (usually €2500 – €3000).

If you own assets in other countries it may be simpler to mortgage them and pay cash for your Italian house.

Sometimes developers or even private vendors will agree to payment in instalments over a certain period. Here is some information on financial alternatives to an Italian mortgage – Alternative Finance

Can I have a survey done?

It is true most Italians don’t have a survey done, but of course you can. The cost is usually €500 + Vat, and we can provide a translation in English (extra fee applies). If you buy an apartment which has been completely restored by a company the Italian Civil Code requires that company to guarantee the property from all defects for 10 years (Similar to the NHBC in the UK) so a survey isn’t really necessary.

How much will a restoration cost?

A ball-park figure is €1200 per square metre for a total restoration including connection to services, new roof, floors, new electrics, plumbing, heating, windows, doors, etc
So a 250m2 building will cost in the region of 300,000 euros for a complete restoration, although there are economies of scale for larger projects.
If you choose to use very expensive materials, and install jacuzzis, under-floor heating and other expensive items the cost will obviously be higher. About two thirds of the cost of restoration is labour.

Partial/minor restorations of course cost less per sqm.

I am very handy. Can I carry out the works myself?

We’d recommend leaving the structural work such as roofs to the specialists, who know how Italian houses are constructed, and it’s important that electrics and plumbing are certified. You can certainly carry out works such plastering, tiling, decorating etc yourself to save money if you have the know-how.

I like one of your barns but there’s no planning permission in place. You say I can convert it into a house but how do I know I’ll get planning permission?

Each area has different planning regulations. We check with each individual council to ascertain what can and can’t be done, whether the building can be extended etc.

I like the look of one of your village houses. But as there’s no garden, can I create a roof terrace?

Extremely unlikely. Old village houses are strictly protected from the planning point of view and external modifications are not usually allowed.

What is a geometra?

There’s no real equivalent of a geometra. He is like a surveyor and project manager and in general prepares all paperwork for property sales, improvements, planning applications etc. A vendor will have a geometra who will make sure all paperwork is up-to-date and in order for the sale. We also recommend you have a geometra represent you in the sale, to check all aspects of the paperwork and will recommend one. You can choose your own if you prefer.

Do you organise viewing trips?
For a very few properties, the developers will organise viewing trips, but in general no, as most people prefer to be independent, staying for a few days or weeks, hiring a car, exploring the area etc. We can certainly organise appointments to view properties with various agents but do not actually arrange travel, apart from advising on flights, trains, car hire etc if requested.

I want to buy in an expensive part of Tuscany. Will I find a detached house with land for 200,000 euros near San Gimignano? 
No. Consider buying an apartment instead, or a cheaper area, such as north of Lucca, or Umbria.

I have a very low budget and would like to buy on the coast

The coast is very expensive, as are cities. If you have a very low budget, look at rural areas. In general the further a property is from work, city, town, transport links etc, the lower the price.

Why do you sell ruins that look like ‘piles of stones’?! 
A ‘pile of stones’ can be a great investment. The purchase price of a ruin is low but you are not buying it for its current condition, you are buying the footprint, land, location, views, etc and most importantly the VOLUME of the building which you can rebuild and in some cases extend. In most areas of Tuscany it’s extremely difficult to get planning permission for a new building but by buying a ruin, you automatically have the volume of a house, even if it means building that house. Of course, you can retain some original features if there are any left, and re-use the stone. It can be one of the best ways to invest, and means you can create the house to your own specifications.

I want to make a large investment/start a company/ buy one of your commercial properties etc. I don’t speak the language. How do I find out about taxes/legalities etc?
We can put you in touch with bilingual business advisers/accountants with offices in London and Italy.

I’ve heard I can save money on the exchange rate when I send funds to Italy. How?

Yes, you certainly can. We have worked with currency dealership Cornhill FX for over 10 years and they guarantee our clients the best possible exchange rate, far better than banks, which can save you a great deal of money. Contact Dominic Baldwin on 00 44 (0)20 7710 9610, email: dominicb@cornhillfx.com – and please mention Casa Tuscany.

What about insurance?
You have two choices – an Italian company or a foreign company which specialises in holiday property insurance. Italian companies tend to be cheaper but sometimes don’t cover earthquakes and in some instances contents if the property is going to be empty a lot of the time. In the UK you can try Intasure. All the paperwork is in English, and cover includes flights to Italy to sort out any problems, while the Italy policy is cheaper but governed by Italian law, and the paperwork is all in Italian.

I’ve heard horror stories about buying in Italy. Is it risky?
We are happy to report, we have never experienced any ‘horror stories’ as we want all our clients to be happy, for their own sake and ours! We work only with professionals, who although they work with us must remain independent and have professional standards to maintain. If any house we offer for sale turns out to have any problems which cannot be resolved we would of course inform you, as we would not want you to buy it. Your geometra will discover any problems associated with the house, and of course the notary cannot conduct the sale if there are unresolved legal or planning issues. Please see this section of the website for comments and testimonials from previous clients – Comments and Testimonials

Can I always extend?
No. It depends on the planning regulations for each area and if the house has already been extended. We can find out for you.

Why do I need an agent? 
Agents such as ourselves are very different to most estate agents in the UK. We don’t just find you a house and walk away, we and our colleagues do everything necessary to assist you through the purchase and beyond, including checking the paperwork for the house, drawing up the contracts, translating them, arranging the compromesso and notary contract, giving advice on restorations and any other matters post-sale, and helping you find the right people to assist you.
Please read our Terms and Conditions

Why do house prices in Tuscany vary so much
Tuscany is a very large region so of course prices will vary. From city to coast to mountains to rural areas, then there are more popular areas, more isolated areas. The house price depends on location but also on many other factors of course such as condition, original features, garden/land, views etc.

I want to buy an apartment but it’s not finished/built yet
Usually you sign the compromesso now, and either the balance on completion, or quite often pay instalments at various stages of the building works and the balance on completion.

I want to buy a house that’s been rented, or a commercial property. Why won’t you give me full details of turnover/profit etc so I can judge if it’s viable?
Understandably, owners of rental properties, hotels, restaurants, agriturismi etc do not wish their full financial details passed on. We will do our best to obtain an idea of rental amounts / occupancy / turnover but really until you have viewed the property and met the owners it is unlikely they will allow us to pass on this information to you.

How much does a swimming pool cost?
It depends on the type, size, shape and sometimes other factors such as accessibility of the site. A ballpark figure is about €35,000 but seeks quotes for the particular pool you want.

What’s the best airport for Tuscany?
Pisa, although you can also fly to Florence. Slightly further are Bologna or Bologna Forli airports, Genoa, Ancona, Rome.

Can I view on a Sunday?
For some properties you can but in certain areas agents work long hours throughout the week and need a day off in order to perform well the rest of the week, see their families etc. Saturdays are usually very busy so it’s best to come in the week. Flights are also usually cheaper Monday – Thursday.

Can I just turn up to meet someone in Italy and go and see some houses?
No. We need to book your appointments in advance so that a) we can fit you in especially at busy times of the year b) agents sometimes need to travel quite a way themselves, c) sometimes owners/keyholders need to also be forewarned of a visit. Tel 00 44 (0)1223 828300 or email us on info@casatuscany.com to arrange viewings.

What taxes are payable on rental income?

Any rental income produced from a property in Italy must be declared in Italy and tax paid on it. You will then need to declare the income again in your domestic tax return, along with the tax paid in Italy. Under the terms of the relevant Double Tax Treaty you will generally receive credit for the tax paid overseas so that you do not pay tax on the same income twice.

The current rates of IRPEF are as follows:

from 0 to 15,000 euro: 23% (first tax band)
from 15,001 to 28,000 euro: 27% on excess of first tax band
from 28,001 to 55,000 euro: 38% on excess of second tax band
from 55,001 to 75,000 euro: 41% on excess of third tax band
from 75,001 euro: 43% on excess of fourth tax band

Obviously these rates are payable on profit, not gross rental income. However the rules on deductibles are much less generous than they are, for example, in the UK.

For advice about paying these taxes you can contact

Studio Del Gaizo Picchioni
www.studiodelgaizopicchioni.it
Italy:
Via Marradi 30 – 57126 Livorno (LI)
Telephone: +39 0586 800599
Fax: +39 0586 261363
Email: delgaizo@studiodelgaizopicchioni.it
United Kingdom:
11 Town Furlong, Bodicote, Banbury, OX15 4DP
Telephone: +44 1295 709105
Fax: +44 1295 709105
Email: jruddock@studiodelgaizopicchioni.it

How do I arrange power of attorney?
If you cannot be there in person to sign the purchase deeds at the notary, then you could arrange power of attorney. This varies slightly from country to country but in essence this is the procedure in Britain (for other countries seek advice from your Italian consulate):
– you need someone to whom you can give power of attorney. They must be a resident in Italy and fluent in Italian. Often the agent.
– we send you the special power of attorney document in Italian with an English translation if required.
– you make an appointment with a notary in your country and sign the Italian power of attorney document in front of him/her. He/she needs to see your identification and declare that you are who you say you are.
– you send/take the Italian document to the Legalisation Department of the Foreign Office in London to be legalised and have an apostille attached.
– the document then needs to be sent to the agent in Italy to give to the notary.

Alternatively, if you cannot be there to sign documents at the time but are in Italy beforehand you can sign the power of attorney documents at a notary’s office in Italy (much easier!).

I am a serious investor looking for a large profitable construction / commercial project in Italy. Can you help me find that really good buy?
We certainly can. We have many large commercial possibilities and building land. You can see some of them on our website, but if you have any specific needs, do give us a call or arrange to come and meet us.

Is there any capital gains tax to pay when I sell my Italian property?
In Italy, if you sell a property you have owned for more than five years, there is no CGT to pay. If you have owned it for less than five years then the rate of CGT payable is 20% on the net profit you have made, minus any purchase and sale costs – including notary fees, agency fees etc, as well as any building works you have carried out. You need paperwork to support these costs so make sure you have proper invoices from builders and contractors. You cannot offset furniture and furnishings etc.
If you have owned the property for say 4.5 years you can still advertise it for sale, find a buyer and sign the compromesso (preliminary contract) but if you wait to complete the sale after the five years have passed then you will save on CGT.
If you are resident of another country than Italy you may have some capital gains tax to pay there even if you have none to pay in Italy – check with your accountant.

If I own a property in Italy, do I need to have an Italian will drawn up?
If you own a property in Italy you are naturally going to be concerned about how to include this property in your will and whether you need to have an Italian will prepared.
You will find quite a lot of conflicting information about this subject.
Generally speaking if, at the time of the death, you are domiciled in England and Wales, your English Will may have jurisdiction over all immovable assets situated in England and Wales and all worldwide moveable assets. It may also cover the immovable assets located in Italy but it is advisable to seek the advice of a lawyer in that jurisdiction to ensure that this is the case.
In fact there are a series of other factors (i.e. your domicile) that can interfere with your English will resulting in not being able to dispose of your assets as you prefer. In addition, some countries, including Italy, have “forced heirship” rules which dictate who is allowed to inherit the assets which you own in that jurisdiction.
If you want to take advantage of the possibility to freely dispose of your estate in accordance with the English law, ideally, it is recommended that you also have your wishes formally registered with an Italian notary, specifying that your Italian asset is to be disposed of according to English law, as specified in your English will. Only this way can you be absolutely certain that no problems will arise.
Rather than “do I need an Italian will for my Italian property?”, the fundamental question is, therefore, “do I need to do inheritance planning?”. For example if you have a complicated family situation or if you own a lot of properties in Italy, or property of a high value, it is wise to make detailed inheritance plans to ensure that you have planned your wishes correctly.
You should also ensure that the two wills are coordinated in order to avoid an unwanted outcome. For example the later of the two wills should be read in conjunction with the first will so that it does not cancel the earlier by an unqualified revocation.
As you can appreciate, multi-jurisdictional estates are by their very nature complex and it is wise to consider obtaining professional advice to ensure smooth and tax efficient succession planning
If you would like to have an expert make sure you have fulfilled all necessary procedures at home and in Italy, we recommend
Michele Menato
Italian Avvocato & English Solicitor
B&M Law LLP
Hamilton House, 1 Temple Avenue, London EC4Y 0HA

www.bandmlaw.co.uk
Tel: 0207 356 0833
Email: michelem@bandmlaw.co.uk
Skype: michelem-bandm

I have a question about health/pets/working in Italy/obtaining residency/education etc. Can you help?
Yes but have a look at this website which has loads of useful information about living in Italy – Tuscany.angloinfo.com

I have a property I’d like you to sell
Please see information for sellers

For lots more information see our Info and Services Section

© Karen Roos.

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