Why Buy in Italy?
Italy has great weather, fantastic architecture, vegetables that taste as they should, a slow pace of life, family values, and a love of elegance and style. There is something wholesome and natural about the way of life in Italy. It's not too fast yet it's not too slow - a happy medium that people fall in love with. Buying a property in Italy has brought enormous benefit to many Brits and the trend is set to continue! With an increase in low-cost air carriers and reasonably priced properties there's nothing to stop you from buying your dream home in Italy now!
Getting Started - is it possible for you to buy in Italy?
Buying a property, living or working in Italy is not a problem for British nationals. You do not require a visa, or a work permit. Although it is beneficial to declare yourself a resident at the local comune in order to reduce taxation on property purchase, to reduce charges on bank accounts and permit the purchase, registration and insurance of a vehicle in Italy.
To find out more on how to get started on your Italy property buying journey, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Italy Property Buying Guide.
Finance - how much does it cost to buy a property in Italy?
Buying costs in Italy can vary. Agency fees (usually divided equally between buyer and seller) range from 3% to 8% - always ask the agent before you begin looking at property. Notary fees depend on the sale price - a lower sale price equals a higher percentage. That percentage is unlikely to exceed 2.5-3%.
Registration tax, payable upon completion, is 3% for a main residence. For non-residents it will be increased to 7%, and for an agricultural property, it may be as much as 10%. Purchasers of new properties are exempt, but will pay VAT - 4% for a main residence, 10% for non-residents or a second home, and as much as 20% for a luxury property.
Land registry tax is also payable, at a fixed sum of about €130 for a main residence, or 1% of the purchase price for non-residents. Other costs to take into account may be a surveyor's, architect's or solicitor's fees, the installation or connection of water, electricity or gas, currency conversion costs (which can be minimised by using a professional company like Smart Currency Exchange), and moving costs.
Finding a property in Italy - where should you start?
Find property in Italy with Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk - the best place to search for property in Italy and part of Rightmove.co.uk, the UK's number one property website. A country of romance, art and la dolce vita, Italy is a sumptuous feast for the senses. With cottages, houses, villas and apartments available throughout the country, there is plenty of property in Italy to choose from and Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk lists the very latest property in Italy.
To find out more on how to finance and find a property in Italy, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Italy Property Buying Guide.
Legalities - should you use a lawyer in Italy?
In Italy, all the searches and paperwork required to buy and sell a house are undertaken by the estate agent and the notary. The notary acts on behalf of the Government and their fees are set in stone, on a sliding scale according to the price of the property. Their prime concern is registering the sale, ensuring that the conveyance is taken care of according to law and collecting the relevant taxes on behalf of the Government. They are completely neutral. Notaries do NOT act on behalf of either the buyer or the seller. Likewise, the estate agent is being paid the same amount from both buyer and seller and their only interest is to see the sale go through.
So though no one is acting against you, no one is acting on your behalf either. It is completely normal for Italians to buy and sell houses without the involvement of a lawyer or solicitor. However, you are not Italian, you probably don't speak Italian perfectly and you are in a particularly vulnerable position. It is in your interest to have your own legal representation.
Italian planning regulations vary enormously from one region to the next. For this reason, you are much better off hiring a solicitor who practices in the area you are going to buy in, and then finding an interpreter to translate your correspondence, rather than hiring either UK solicitors with Italian expertise or even Anglo-Italian solicitors based elsewhere in Italy.
A solicitor who is used to organising the sale and purchase of apartments in uptown Milan will not have a clue about planning regulations in a mountain area. This may be subject to landslides, with regulations limiting what kind of building can be erected; where water rights have never been written down but simply passed on generation to generation by word of mouth etc. And it will cost you a fortune for every extra minute they spend trying to find all this out.
You simply need a solicitor who knows the area well to advise you should any aspect of the sale be a cause for concern, and who can check that the paperwork the estate agent and the notary have prepared is in order; that all the correct searches have been done and that the person you are paying for the property is the legal owner.
Settling into Italy - how can you make friends?
A few tips to help get you settled into your new home in Italy:
- Meet the neighbours: be sociable and invite them over for a little house-warming party. They will have a wealth of knowledge of the area and local contacts.
- Try and learn the language or at least a few phrases: Depending on the area you choose to live in, English may be limited. Remember, your acceptance in the local community is in direct proportion to how hard you have tried to learn at least the basics of the language. And don't worry if you get it wrong - the fact that you attempt to speak the language will gain you respect.
- Enquire if there are any social clubs or societies for locals: e.g. walking clubs (CAI is a national organisation for walkers), Book Club, Tennis Club, Golf Club etc.
- Go and introduce yourself to the comune (the local council): If possible the mayor or sindac. They are hugely influential even in the tiniest of villages, and a source of much information.
- Ask if there are any expats living in the same area: The Brits get everywhere so there's bound to be someone in your area!
To find out more on legalities, moving and settling into your new home in Italy, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Italy Property Buying Guide.