It is best to begin your home search in Italy as soon as possible. Although good housing is available, it may take some time to find the most agreeable situation – for example, ample space, proximity to amenities, the views you seek. The approval process for paperwork can be quite lengthy so, if you are applying for a residence visa for instance, having your address established may speed matters.
Italy is a great place to live and has many attractive apartments, houses and villas and if you ensure that you get the right independent advice and support a successful purchase can be made.
The first thing is to be clear on why you are buying and what you are looking for:
*Type of property – villa, townhouse or apartment; modern, traditional or rustic?
*Location – resort on the coast, quiet coastal village, inland or hillside with a view, among other expats or not?
*Size and facilities – how many bedrooms (enough for you and for visiting family and friends), individual or communal swimming pool, land, garden or shared facilities?
*Local facilities – how near the shops, bars, beach, pharmacy, medical facilities or hospital, schools?
*Market – what is the market like for letting the property, if required and what about resale if it is planned or becomes necessary?
Once you have an idea of what is available it is well worth visiting your planned destination to look at what is on the market. Even if you have spent many holidays in your planned new home, consider going at a different time of the year, such as out of season, so that you get a good idea of what it will be like to live there full time. There are many buying visits available from major agents and these can be a low cost option and a great way to see a wide range of properties quickly. Choose a reputable agency and be prepared for a significant level of persuasion.
Before you decide on a property you need to be clear on your budget. You need to know what funds you have available, what you can raise by sale and through a mortgage as well as all of the costs involved in buying a property (allow at least 10% of the purchase price). Only then can you be sure what you can spend on the purchase together with any improvements required or planned and furnishing and equipping your new home.
Property Purchase Process
There is no restriction on buying property in Italy and it has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful older property in the world, at surprisingly cheap prices (especially you’re up for a bit of renovating), says property expert Christopher Nye.
In Italy you generally do not need a lawyer because the agent and the notary are both working for you, the buyer as well as the seller, and are legally bound and professionally indemnified to conduct the sale fairly. With the notary knowing the law and the agent knowing the property intimately, all angles should be covered.
The biggest online source to search for property is property-italy.immobiliare.it, which operates in eight languages. Gate-away.com is an Italian portal aimed at foreign buyers.
Italian estate agents (agenzie immobiliari) charge fees normally of 3% but possibly as high as 8%, plus 22% VAT. As mentioned, however, the agent, along with the notary, is responsible for the sale being managed fairly. You save, therefore, on legal fees.
The most crucial part of the buying process, therefore, is only to work with an authorised estate agent who is registered (as an estate agent) at the local Chamber of Commerce. They will have studied all the legal issues, the land registry, how to read maps and the cadastro, and have passed comprehensive exams before being enrolled and registered as an estate agent. Their website and documents will include an inscription along the lines of Iscrizione al Ruolo degli Agenti di Affari in Mediazione, usually with a registration number next to it and the name of the Chamber of Commerce. If you use an unregistered agent they will have no legal responsibility over the sale and no insurance if it all goes wrong.
Agents may also be part of a professional organisations, such as AICI, FIMAA and FIAIP.