Living and working in the hills of Tuscany, or perhaps retiring in the sub-tropical climate of Sardinia is a dream a lot of Italians and foreigners want to achieve at some point in their lives. It is not surprising, given that Italy has a lot to offer anyone living there: spectacular ancient cities, mountains, lakes, rolling countryside, museums, great beaches and beautiful natural scenery.
Although buying a property in Italy is similar to purchasing a property in your home country, it is a different process than a lot of countries and the process may not be entirely straightforward when compared to a lot of English speaking countries. Moreover, the terminology that appears similar in English can have a very different meaning in Italian.
If you’re an overseas resident and are considering purchasing a property in Italy, there will be a number of common factors that you will encounter below walking through a new front door with new keys.
Legal Formalities and Documentation
As you may already be aware of if you’ve purchased property in your own country, there are a number of documents that are required to complete the purchase. As a non-resident of Italy and wanting to purchase an Italian property you will be required to produce and fill out a number of forms that are necessary to move forward with the purchase and will need legal guidance in the process.
Here are is a list of the most common factors overseas purchasers of Italian real estate are required to produce:
- The attorney working on behalf of the buyer will need to obtain a lot documents relating to the property in question (the Property Deed, the Certificate of Urban Destination, the Authorization for Division into Lots, the Town-planning Conformity, the Certificate of Indemnity, the Certificate of Habitability, the Preemptive Rights, the Cadastral documentation, the Condominium Regulations, the Administrative Documentation, the Environmental certifications…).
This documentation, issued by different administrative offices and agencies, is generally difficult to obtain and not easy to be interpreted without the technical assistance of an attorney.
- The non-Italian resident will need to open an Italian bank account. It can be directly opened from Italy (going to an Italian bank in person with passport and Italian tax code) or remotely (many banks operate with foreigners daily and have specific services for non-Italian residents, however, other banks might not be familiar with non-residents accounts and might only offer basic services to people who are not residents so it could slow down the purchase process).
- Before the non-resident can open an Italian bank account, they will need to obtain an Italian Tax Code. It is an alphanumeric code assigned to all Italians at birth and anyone who comes to live and work in Italy will probably need one, whether they’re Italian or not. Requesting and obtaining an Italian Tax Code is quite easy also for non-residents. A Foreign citizen can apply for free for an Italian “Codice Fiscale” at any Italian diplomatic or consular representative/office. If they are unable to attend, then as an alternative, the application form may be submitted to any Revenue Agency office by an attorney.
- All the documents related to the purchase must be written in Italian. Italian legal writing is highly technical and often archaic due to its closeness with Roman Law. Besides, the sensible difference in between civil law countries legal systems (like Italy) and common law countries legal systems (like U.S. and U.K.) can create even more difficulties when foreign citizen are involved in an Italian real estate transaction.
As a consequence, an accurate understanding of the legal systems and the legal processes involved is fundamental for counsellors, translators or interpreters involved in such essential transactions.
- Once the documentation, Italian tax code and Italian bank account are in place, only then can the purchase move forward. It involves several professionals and is composed of three main stages:
- The Purchase Offer or Reservation Offer: 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 Preliminary Contract;
- The Preliminary Contract of Sale: this is a legally-binding document which states the agreed sale price, the completion date, the details of the property and the parties, and the deposit to be paid at the signing of this contract;
- The Final Agreement: this is a legally-binding document which states the agreed sale price, the completion date, the details of the property and the parties, and the deposit to be paid at the signing of this contract.
As you can see there is a lot to cover, before you would be able to step into your own Italian home and that’s why you need to ensure that you take the correct legal advice and guidance throughout the entire process.
Our team of experienced Italian lawyers and consultants can assist foreign clients with all aspects of the purchase, sale or lease of a property in Italy. Our professionals will develop an in-depth understanding of our client’s requirements and search out properties ideal for the client’s profile. Our service includes consultancy and management of all phases related to the purchase of a property in Italy.
Specifically, the main services we can offer are:
- Support in collecting the documentation necessary to buy an Italian property, for example, search and review of Chamber of Commerce records regarding vendor/owner’s financial constraints, collection and review of property information recorded in Italian public registries, review of seller’s right and power to sell the property;
- Set-up and management of Italian Bank account with chequebooks and online access, assistance in obtaining a mortgage and/or loan (“mutuo”);
- Obtainment of Italian Tax Code that is necessary to complete all real estate transactions in Italy;
- Assistance with the purchase process: coordination with the real estate agent/s and negotiation of the agent’s fees, preparation, review, counseling or amendment of the Formal Offer (Reservation Offer) and meeting with the seller (if needed), preparation, review, counseling or amendment and execution on behalf of client of the Preliminary Contract of Sale according to the purchaser’s specific personal needs and exchange with the other party, execution and formalization of Final Agreement, coordination with the Owner/Vendor and the local Notary Public;
- Provision of advice on how to perform payments without being physically present in Italy (payment of Notary fees, Real Estate agent fees, payment of purchase price and taxes).
If you are interested in buying an Italian property you just need to contact us and we’ll schedule a free phone or skype consultation with an Italian expert in dual citizenship designed to answer all of your questions.