A full guide to buying real estate in Italy

In 2019, there were around 65,645 British citizens living in Italy in various regions; Italy is renowned for its warm weather, pleasant scenery and palatable food, making it a desirable new location for foreign nationals. When moving to Italy, there are various laws and requirements that British citizens must adhere to when buying property, including taxes and fees.

In this guide, we will explore the different steps that need to be taken in Italy, the taxes and fees to be aware of, and how Brexit may have affected property purchases for British nationals. We will also discuss how Giambrone and Partners can assist.

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Whether a non-Italian citizen can buy property in Italy

Here are the various steps you need to remember when buying Italian property

Find out which taxes and fees you need to pay when moving to Italy

Discover what impact Brexit has had on property purchase in Italy

Find out whether you need legal advice when buying Italian property

Here’s how we can assist you

We answer some frequently asked questions

Can a foreign national buy property in Italy?

There are no restrictions prohibiting a foreign national from purchasing property in Italy. However, the Italian authorities have the right to establish certain information such as a clear criminal record. Citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) states can buy a home in Italy following the same procedures as Italian citizens. Those who do not live in EU or EEA member states can still buy property in Italy, as long as there is a reciprocal treaty in place that states that Italian citizens can purchase property in the home country of the foreign purchaser.

British nationals must obtain a visa and apply for permanent Italian residency if they are planning to live in their Italian property.

What must I do to buy property in Italy?

When looking for a property to buy in Italy, you should proceed in the same way as a property purchase in your home country. Source a property at a price you can afford, organise a mortgage if needed and instruct an estate agent to help you find the perfect home for you. You will also need to engage an Italian notary to manage the contract.

Once you find a property you like, you can make a formal offer; if accepted, this becomes a legally binding contract, so it is strongly recommended that you seek the help of a solicitor to review any documents before you sign them. A preliminary contract (Compromesso) will be drafted once a surveyor has completed the relevant inspections following which an agreement can be reached. At this point, a deposit of approximately 20% is usually required.

The notary will draft a final contract, which is then signed. The purchaser will then pay the outstanding balance, and the notary will pay stamp duty to the Italian Government on the purchaser’s behalf. Each step in the purchase process should be explained to you by the lawyer you instructed. The Italian lawyers at Giambrone and Partners will review and analyse all important documents before you sign them, explaining the processes in English in an understandable way. Contact us here for more information.

The Italian property taxes and fees to be aware of

When preparing a budget for buying property in Italy, you can expect to spend between 10% and 20% of the purchase price on taxes and fees, including registration tax, VAT, land registry tax, estate agent fees, legal fees and notary fees. The land registry tax and notary fee are relatively small and range from 1% to 2.5%. VAT, however, can range from 4% to 22%.

Tax is payable by all property owners in Italy, including British nationals who are now Italian residents. However, if you are buying property in Italy but you do not intend to live there, you will only be expected to pay tax if your income exceeds a certain threshold. There are similarities to council tax in the United Kingdom; the Imposta Municipale Unica is collected twice a year. For help translating specific documents and requirements, you can recruit the help of an Italian lawyer.

How has Brexit affected property purchase in Italy?

If you were living in Italy before the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021, you may not need a non-EU national residence permit to buy property in Italy. This is known as a “permesso di soggiorno”. You may need to provide documentation to demonstrate your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, such as a certificato di residenza (EU residency certificate).

If you plan to live in your Italian property, or intend to spend vast amounts of time throughout the year there, you will need to apply for a visa. A visa is necessary if you plan to spend more than 90 days in any Schengen area country, including Italy, in a 180-day period. After this period, you must leave, and you cannot return for 90 days. For example, if you visit Spain for 30 days and then move on to your Italy home you can only stay in Italy for 60 days and may not return for 90 days.

Do I need a lawyer when buying property in Italy?

A British citizen may find it hard to navigate Italian law and property tax; experienced Italian real estate lawyers can provide you with expert legal advice concerning the purchase of your property, and can oversee documents to ensure they are legally sound. Getting advice from a lawyer is recommended to help avoid any legal surprises should you encounter them, providing you with extra peace of mind when dealing with an important purchase.

Giambrone & Partners are dually qualified English-speaking Italian lawyers based in the London office. They can not only help translate important documents, but communication will be much easier in comparison with dealing with lawyers based in Italy.

How Giambrone and Partners can help 

Our Italian real estate lawyers based in the UK and can help guide you through the entire purchase process in Italy. We can translate documents regarding your purchase and be on hand to answer any questions you may have, from the start of your property search to the day you receive your keys.

To find out more about property purchase in Italy, or to inquire about how our services can help you, please get in touch with us here today.

Common Queries 

Is buying property in Italy a good idea? 

There are various reasons why it is a sensible idea to purchase property in Italy. Compared to other EU countries, Italy’s transaction costs are much lower, as are the interest rates. Plus, Italy is an excellent environment in terms of weather, culture and food.

Do foreign nationals pay taxes in Italy?

Foreign nationals who reside in Italy pay the same when purchasing property as Italian residents would. Also, any income generated in Italy is taxable. The double taxation treaty between Italy and the UK still applies after Brexit, meaning you will not be taxed on income generated abroad.

How much money is needed to move to Italy?

How much money you need can depend on where you are moving to, the average property price within the area, and whether you buy or rent a property. It is a good idea, when considering a move to Italy, to research the potential costs of moving to the area of your choice.