Friday 25 July 2008

Italian Property purchasing guide

Buying Real Estate in Italy from Abode Italian Real Estate.

There are no restrictions placed upon a non-resident wishing to purchase a property in Italy, either from Europe or elsewhere.

When searching for a house in Italy it is strongly recommended that you use an estate agent (Realtor) fully licensed by the Chamber of Commerce. Abode International Real Estate is one such agency.

Step 1 – The offer

Your Italian agent will make the initial offer on your behalf. Once you identify the Italian property you want to buy you can immediately sign a Proposta irrevocabile d'acquisto – an irrevocable purchase agreement – which is signed by the buyer and seller once you have agreed on the price. The agreement identifies both parties and the property in question, and gives an expiry date for signing the preliminary contract of sale (“Compromesso”). When you sign, you can pay a small optional deposit. This is usually held by the Agency, and returned to you or given to the seller as part payment when you sign the Compromesso.

If you change your mind about purchasing the property you will forfeit this deposit, as the owner will have effectively taken the property off the market for a certain period of time. If the sale does not go ahead by the specified date through no fault of your own your deposit will be returned to you. During this time you should arrange for a qualified surveyor (Geometra) to organise a complete survey on the property and carry out the necessary title searches. The Geometra will ascertain that all of the structures on the property have proper planning permissions in addition to checking other important documentation on the property.

Step 2 – Preliminary Contract of Sale (“Compromesso”)

The preliminary contract of sale (Compromesso) commits both parties to the sale. This contract establishes the terms and conditions of the final contract (Rogito) and details the price, date for completion, the nature of the property and guarantees from the seller. It may also include any other relevant legal details.

You will be expected to pay a deposit at this stage (Caparra penitenziale) of between 10%-30% of the purchase price. It is important to note that if you withdraw from the sale after signing the Compromesso, you will lose your deposit. However, if the seller withdraws, he must pay you double your deposit.

Step 3 – Rogito

This is the final stage of the process and transfers ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer (usually 1-3 months after the Compromesso). The document is drawn up by the Notary (Notaio), who represents both parties. The buyer, seller and Italian registered estate agent are all required to be present for the signing of the contract at the Notary's office. You can sign the Rogito in person or you may appoint a special Power of Attorney to your solicitor or estate agent to represent you if you cannot be there in person. You will be expected to pay the balances to the vendor, the Notary and the estate agent and pay all taxes due at this stage.

In addition to the above fees, the buyer must also pay:

* Purchase tax – which is either 3% (replaced by 4% VAT if buying from a building company) if the buyer purchases the property as his first residential home in Italy and applies for residency in the local area, or 10% if the foreign buyer already owns property in Italy or does not wish to apply for residency. Please note that the tax is calculated on the “Valore Catastale” (assessed value) of the property and not the purchase price ie. on the value stated in the building registry.
* Surveyor fee – the Geometra will check all the documents for the house are up-to-date and legal, that buildings have fully registered title and that the house complies with planning regulations. This fee is also payable at the signing of the final contract. Some Notaries liaise with a Geometra directly and you will only pay one fee directly to the Notary.

The total expenses incurred in the purchase should not, on average, amount to more than 12% pf the purchase price.

Running costs of your property will include:

* Annual Tax– The Imposta Comunale sugli Immobili is an annual council tax calculated on the value of the property. It is payable twice a year in June and December even if it is possible to pay it once in December for non residents;
* Rubbish tax – it is payable in four instalments or all at once if you prefer;
* Utilities – electricity, water, gas, telephone;
* Condominium expenses – if you buy a property which is part of a group of properties which share some communal areas – gardens, driveway, swimming pool, tennis court etc. then you will be required to pay condominium expenses;

The easiest way to pay most of these is by direct debit, although some you will need to pay at the post office.

Abode Real Estate can guide you through the Italian buying process. When you confirm your commitment to purchase a property in Italy Abode’s professional team of experts will liaise with the Geometra and Notary to make sure your Italian dream is secured and free of problems. This is included in our fees. We also arrange for all the services to be changed to your name. We acquire your Italian Tax code and also open a bank account for you. All you need to do is to find Italian abode.

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