How To Buy a Property In Italy as a foreigner
Can anyone buy a property in Italy?
There are a few restrictions on who can and can’t buy property in Italy, however, for most, it doesn’t present a problem. UK, USA, Canadian, EU nationals can buy property in Italy whether or not they live in the country. The same goes for citizens of any other country (which is the majority of countries) that has a similar reciprocal agreement with Italy.
1)THE FISCAL CODE
The first word you need to get familiar with is CODICE FISCALE (tax code).
If you are thinking to purchase a property in Italy, and also opening an Italian bank account (or buying a car) you will need a CODICE FISCALE.
It is an identification code calculated on the basis of your surname, your names, the place of your birth and the date of your birth which will be used any time you will need to deal with the Authorities.
If you decide to purchase a property with us we will undertake to obtain the Codice Fiscale for you without any extra charge.
2) OPENING AN ITALIAN BANK ACCOUNT
In the event of a purchase, it is essential to open a bank account in Italy not only to transfer there the funds for the completion ( as the final payment normally happens with Italian bankers drafts) but also to enable you to get the various utilities paid automatically.
We will be happy to introduce you to a local bank with an English speaking manager.
Then, on the same day of the completion or the day before, we will come with you to the bank to organize the final payment.
3) FORMAL OFFER OF PURCHASE ( with a 5% downpayment)
When a customer, after having visited some properties, decides to proceed with the purchase, the first step is to make an offer.
Sometimes a verbal offer may be enough, or maybe even a simple email.
In most cases, however, an irrevocable purchase proposal is made.
Our agency takes care of drafting the document which usually includes:
• details of the selling party;
• details of the buyer;
• the description of the property and the cadastral (property registry) identification;
• offered price;
• amount of the deposits;
• expiry date of both preliminary sale agreement (referred to in point 5 below) and of the
notarial deed / final deed (referred to in point 7 below)
• clauses aimed at providing legal fiscal and urban planning guarantees.
The proposal is usually accompanied by a deposit made with a cheque left in the hand of the agency which will be returned if the offer is not accepted by the seller.
In the case of parties residing in physically distant places or even abroad, the proposal may include a clause according to which the payment in case of acceptance of the proposal is made by the bank transfer to be made within a few days from the seller’s acceptance of the offer.
If the seller signs the proposal accepting the offered price, as soon as the proposing party receives notice of acceptance, the deal will be considered concluded.
Downpayment related to the formal offer of purchase s usually 5% of the offered price.
When a client, after having visited some properties, decides to go ahead and buy one of those, we are then happy to start a negotiation on their behalf.
Usually, just a verbal offer is enough, sometimes a written formal offer of purchase is exchanged ( lettera di intenti or proposta di acquisto) . If the vendor signs it accepting the offered price this means that he undertakes to not sell the property to anybody else until a certain date.
This letter is to protect the buyer from losing the opportunity to purchase.
4) CADASTRAL CHECKS
Before proceeding with the purchase, we undertake to carry out all the checks to verify that the property is duly registered and above all that there is correspondence between the cadastral plans and the actual state of the property.
Should the buyer wish to have an independent technical report along with an appraisal of the property, our agency is able to provide some names of valid technicians.
The cost is not included in the service of our agency but will be charged to the client.
5) PRELIMINARY AGREEMENT OF SALE (Compromesso) 20-30 % deposit
Immediately after the purchase proposal acceptance, we start working on the preliminary agreement of sale.
The preliminare di compravendita is the private agreement between the two parties in which the price is established and in which the seller agrees to sell the property for an agreed price by a set
date, to the buyer, who agrees to purchase it.
In addition to the details of the parties, there is a general description of the property, along with its cadastral data and provenance as well as all legal clauses in order to provide guarantees to both parties.
Generally, at the preliminary sale agreement, the buyer pays a deposit (down payment on the established price of the sale) equal to 20% of the agreed price. This payment is made as a Confirmatory Deposit ( please see following article 6).
Starting from January 1, 2007, the obligation, jointly by agency and parties, to register the preliminary sale agreement was introduced.
This is registration for tax purposes and the related costs are, by law, the sole responsibility of the purchaser. Part of the cost of registering the preliminary contract will be deducted from the final taxes to be paid upon closing.
In the event that the buyer wants the preliminary agreement to be transcribed at the real estate registry, the preliminary sale must be drawn up by a notary and signed in front of him.
6) THE CAPARRA CONFIRMATORIA ( article 1385 of the Codice Civile)
Payments made on respectively proposal acceptance and signing of the preliminary agreement are governed by Article 1385 of the Civil Code. If the party who gave the deposit is in default, the other can withdraw from the contract, retaining the deposit if the party who received it is in default, the other can withdraw from the contract and demand double the deposit. However, if the non-
defaulting party prefers to request the execution or termination of the contract, the compensation for damage is governed by the general rules.
7) FINAL PURCHASING DEED ( Rogito Notarile) 70%-80% outstanding balance, final payment.
Both in the purchase proposal and in the preliminary agreement of sale, the expiry dates for payments and for the deed are always indicated. When both the seller and the buyer are ready, the
effective date for the final deed of sale signing is established. It will be stipulated by a notary public chosen by the buyer. It is the responsibility of the notary to carry out, just before the stipulation, all the checks aimed at guaranteeing the freedom of the property from mortgage and cadastral restrictions.
At the time of the deed, the final payment is made, usually in cashier’s checks issued by a bank based in Italy.
According to recent legislation, however, it is also possible to use the escrow deposit in the notary’s dedicated current account. This allows the purchasing party to pay the balance of the price in the account of the Notary who will be responsible for paying it to the selling party only after having registered and transcribed the deed (and therefore having checked again that there are no prejudicial transcripts related to the property).
*It is important to know that the appointment with the notary, who is always very busy, needs to be booked some time in advance and also that his/ her office is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
8) PROPERTY PURCHASE TAX
All costs for the deed of sale are charged to the buyer: notary’s fee, taxes, stamps. If the property is purchased by a person, the taxes are calculated on the cadastral income of the property; if it
is purchased by a company, they are calculated on the sale price instead.
The cadastral value represents the value (for tax purposes only) with which the property is registered in the land registry and it is usually lower than the market value of the property. There is
no correlation between the cadastral value and the sale price. It is therefore not possible to trace the cadastral value from the price of the property.
In the event that the buyer purchases their first property in Italy, there is the possibility of paying 2% of the declared value instead of 9%. This reduction can only be obtained if you decide to become a resident within 18 months from the date of the Notarial Deed. The Notary will note in the notarial deed that the buyer intends to make use of this reduction.
9) CLEAR AND LEGIBLE SIGNATURES
It is very important to know that the Notary requires you to sign the deed in clear and readable handwriting, including all the names present in the passport or identity document.
10) REGISTRATION and TRANSCRIPTION OF THE NOTARIAL DEED
The Notary is responsible for registering the deed with the tax office and transcribing it to the land registry.
Only after completing the registration and transcription procedures (it usually takes a few days) the Notary will be able to provide the parties with a copy of the deed.
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