Italy is undoubtedly one of the most attractive destinations for many foreigners, and in recent years it has also become very popular due to the investment opportunities that its real estate market offers. However, the language barrier might discourage many when approaching the housing market, therefore it will be the aim of this article to provide you with a number of recurring words which are related to the Italian real estate market and which will help you gain a better understanding of the purchasing process in Italy.

Among the most important words are the ones related to the type of property such as:

  • Monolocale = studio
  • Bilocale = one-bedroom apartment
  • Trilocale = two-bedroom apartment
  • Appartamento = apartment
  • Villetta a schiera = semi-detached house
  • Villa = detached house
  • Rustico = rural property

When purchasing a property, it is important to check whether the property is abitabile (= habitable), in buone condizioni (= in good conditions) or whether it needs to be renovated (da ristrutturare). Usually, the most affordable properties are the ones which require a few renovations works. If you would like to make structural changes to the property it is advisable to ask a geometra (= surveyor) and an architetto (= architect) to check whether the property complies with all the local planning, building and land registry regulations prior to carrying out the renovation works.

There are two professionals you will mainly work with:  a notaio (= notary) and an agente immobiliare (= real estate agent). Unlike a public notary in the U.S., an Italian notary is a legal professional who guarantees the validity of documents such as contacts, deeds and wills. During a property sale, a notary checks that all the proceedings comply with Italian property law. The notary also checks both the seller and the buyer’s respective powers, calculates the taxes which are applicable to the transaction and after these have been collected from the parties and the Final Deed of Sale has been signed, the notary files the property with the local Land Registry (Catasto). After this filing, the transaction is officially public.

In order to purchase a property in Italy you need to hold a Codice Fiscale (= Italian Tax Code) which is an alphanumeric code that identifies citizens, non-citizens, residents and non-residents, in all dealings with Italian public authorities. Once you have identified the property that you would like to purchase, you can make an offer which is defined as Proposta d’acquisto (=Purchase Offer or Reservation Contract), which is a document that outlines the basic terms and conditions between the buyer and the seller. At this stage, you need to pay a caparra or acconto (= deposit) which is usually 5% of the property value. If no legal problems arise during the due diligence process, the parties can sign the Contratto Preliminare di Vendita or Compromesso (= Preliminary Contract of Sale) which is a legally binding document that defines the selling conditions. After this phase, the notary will draft the Atto di Vendita or Rogito Notarile (= Final Contract of Sale) which will then be signed by both parties and countersigned by the notary.

If you would like to purchase a property in Italy but you do not have time to travel to the country, you can sign a procura (= power of attorney) in order for an Italian lawyer or another person you  trust to represent you and to complete the purchasing process on your behalf.

In conclusion, while language barriers may present challenges when buying a property in Italy, the purchasing process is not generally more complicated than buying a property in your home country. Nevertheless, it is important to know the general terminology in order to have a clearer idea of the purchasing process.

If you would like help or more detailed information about purchasing a property in Italy, our team of real estate professionals would be glad to assist you. Feel free to contact us at


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