Absolutely Vital Steps to Purchasing Your Home in Italy
And thank you for helping to make our recent Youtube videos so popular.
We have also received lots of news from Santa Domenica Talao, Italy letting us know that the work on our home renovations are going swimmingly.
We really can’t wait to see the finished project. You can see our renovations in the “during” phase right here.
Obviously before purchasing our house almost ten years ago, Pete and I did a lot of research on purchasing a home in Italy.
The housing market in Italy is totally different than in America. In my recent video I went over the differences between an American home and a centuries old home in an Italian village.
Please do your own research but ultimately you will take these steps.
1. Find the area you want to be
There are several very important things to consider when choosing the area where you want to land.
a) Proximity to medical care and hospitals is super important.
Understand that medical services in Italy are very different than they are here in the US. Here if we have something wrong, we make an appointment with a doctor and see him or her before getting any kind of treatment.
In Italy the pharmacies have pharmacists who are highly trained in diagnosis and treatment of the vast majority of health problems you might have.
For example if you have a sinus infection, you can get antibiotics over the counter. I once had a rash on my face and the pharmacists diagnosed the issue and handled it with the correct ointment.
My son once had food poisoning that he picked up before he arrived in Italy. He was in rough shape. I went to the pharmacy and they prescribed electrolytes and probiotics. He was much better after starting that treatment.
I do not know where the line is medically beyond which you have to see a doctor but there is a lot you can handle with your local pharmacist.
b) Check into the availability of the services you need and want.
For example if you need a hairdresser close by, or a nail salon, factor that into your decision.
c) What is the character or your city, town or village?
Make sure it matches your own. The most perfect house in a village where you have massively different realities with the people there will not work out well.
d) Are there other ex pats?
Depending on your independence and confidence in being able to learn the language and to fall in with the customs, this may or may not be important to you. I can say that it can be exhausting trying to speak Italian all the time when you are learning and having someone to speak English with is a blessing.
However once you are up and rolling, that all could change. It all depends on what is important to you. I do highly recommend folding yourself in with your village no matter the language and cultural differences. This will give you the richest life experience.
In Southern Italy, English is not a prevalent as it is up north. Even in the North when you get out of the bigger cities, you may not find a lot of English spoken.
Obviously you will want to learn Italian and speak like a local but after days of listening and learning, you can get some pretty wild brain fatigue and it is very nice to hear your native language.
2. Choose your agent
I hate to say it but some real estate agents in Italy are not honest and I am not necessarily talking about the locals. I have heard some real horror stories so be on the lookout.
Additionally the standard of responsibility for an agent in Italy may not be the same as in the US. The packet of documents you receive when purchasing a house in the US is massive. In Italy it is pages. I do not know if disclosures are even a thing in Italy.
That said we found a wonderful agent in Ivan De Luca at Immobiliare Casabella in Scalea, Italy. I will provide all the data at the end of this post.
3. Obtain your Codice Fiscale
The Codice Fiscale is the Italian tax ID number and every big purchase requires that you have one. I bought beds recently and had to show my Codice Fiscale. You can obtain them at your local Italian embassy and it is not difficult but if you want to get it in Italy your agent can assist you with the process.
4. Choose your property
Where do you see yourself? Do you want an ancient hilltop village or a beautiful beach town? Do you want a busy city or a place in the country? All of these options have pros and cons.
In hill towns you will likely need a car whereas if you get a place in a town along the train lines, you can avoid the cost and hassle of having a car.
On the other hand if you purchase something close to the beach, understand that July and August can get extremely crowded with tourists.
That said you may be right in the thick of all of the festivals and events that occur in Summer. The hill towns and villages also have their version of the events but they are not as big as the busier cities.
Do you want a renovated house or apartment? Do you want something habitable that needs some cosmetics or do you want a complete renovation? All of these are good options but do your homework and get the costs in advance for all renovations and fixtures before making an offer on your house. Again there is a lot of useful information in my recent video .
Are you thinking of purchasing something off plan or to-be-built? ok, do me a favor and DON’T!! EVER!! EVER!!! EVER!!!
When I was researching our home purchase the first thing I did was get on the local forums where ex pats discussed experiences and issues. I also got onto forums in Spain and other countries as well as in Italy to see what experiences might be similar.
What I saw shocked me. So many people had purchased off plan (or to-be-built) projects that were never built. The contractors and these peoples’ money just disappeared like breath off a razor blade.
In another forum I read the story of a couple who had put a good amount of retirement money into a new build in Spain. Due to local misrepresentations of zoning laws, their house was bull dozed and there was no recourse.
The legal machinery in Italy grinds exceedingly slowly and you may never see a cent back in the event that you have to litigate. And litigation presupposes that you have tracked down the culprits who scammed you because they could be long gone.
I recommend that you buy something that you see before you and do not purchase anything with a build contract as the renovations may never happen.
We were shown an off plan build in our area ten years ago that we could have purchased for $120,000 Guess what? It was never built.
If you are thinking of getting something that needs renovations or needs to be rebuilt (Like many of the 1 euro houses) make sure that you get to know your builder and your architect before hand and are very comfortable with them. Then get all estimates up front before making an offer on your property.
Once you have all that data, make an offer that makes sense and be prepared to walk away.
Also be aware that not everything we expect in the US to be included in the price, is in fact included. Kitchens in Italy may or may not be included. They are like Lego sets and can be assembled and disassembled quickly. Take nothing for granted and if you want the kitchen, ensure it is in included in the deed. The same goes for light fixtures and just about anything else.
Also be aware that sometimes a garage or room in a house may belong to someone else. Take nothing for granted and ensure you know EXACTLY what all is included.
5. The purchase and dealing with the Notaio (Notary)
Notaries in Italy are way different than notaries in the US. According to Ivan De Luca, a PHD in economics and real estate agent extraordinaire, here is an outline of the Notaio’s functions:
a) The Notaio acts in favor of both the buyer and seller and works for the state.
b) The Notaio is a neutral third part and ensures that all documents comply with Italian real estate law.
c) Whether the transaction is done person to person or through an agent, the Notaio is required to oversee the transaction
d) The Notaio may execute certain checks after the purchaser has paid a deposit. These checks might include each party’s rights to buy or sell a property, Whether there are any third party claims on the property (liens), a search to identify the presence of possible mortgages, and verification of planning permission. The Notaio does not verify the compliance with planning permission only that planning permission was given.
e) The Notaio draws up the deed of sale (Atto di Vendita) based on the input from the seller or real estate agent.
f) The Notaio verifies the identities of the parties involved in the transaction.
g) The Notaio attends signing of the final sales contract and reads it aloud to both parties.
h) The Notaio ensure that the new deeds of ownership are registered at the Land Registry.
i) After the deed is registered, the Notaio gives copies of the deed to both parties.
After all of this is complete, congratulations! You are the proud owner of your Italian property!
Obviously this is an overview and since we are not attorneys, We are not giving legal advice here. Check with your real estate professionals in Italy and you can even check with your Notaio if you have questions. Also, if your transaction is complex or if you simply feel more comfortable, hire an attorney to assist you with the transaction.
Pete and I highly recommend Ivan De Luca who has acted not only as a real estate agent for us but has assisted us in setting up our business in Italy, managed our bills and advised us in so many ways on so many issues.
Ivan De Luca
Immobiliare Casabella, Scalea, Calabria, Italy
Parco Centro Marina, Via Lauro, 159, 87029 Scalea CS, Italy
+39 0985 90923
We recommend Ivan for the following reasons:
a) We have used him on several property transactions and despite some pretty grave obstacles, he has always found a way to get things done.
b) Ivan manages our rental properties and bill payments.
c) He is organized and completely transparent. You see where every penny is going.
d) Every time he makes a recommendation he backs it up with good logic and judgement.
e) He has seen everything in the Italian property market and knows what to do in every circumstance.
f) He is fluent in both Italian and English.
g) He is a one stop shop.
In addition to the sales process Ivan can assist you with these issues:
Fully assisted viewings with English translations
Provides assistance obtaining your Codice Fiscale
Offers translation services at the closing meeting
Full before and after sales assistance.
Assistance wtih residency and/or business set up
Renovation management and rental services
He has a PHD in economics and knows the Italian system very well.
We have found Ivan to be a valuable partner in all of our property handlings.
I hope that this blog post and the accompanying videos have been helpful to you. Please continue to send me your feed back and any subjects you want to hear about or any questions you have.
Ciao for now!