Property purchase: The three steps to buy property in Italy.

Understanding the process of buying property in Italy through an italian real estate agency.

Understanding the process of buying property in Italy through an italian real estate agency. Read more.

Villa surrounded by 18,610 sqm of land. Trivento. Molise.

Characterful stone house fully restored with garden. Agnone. Molise.

Large villa of 240 sqm, composed by two apartments and a garage, surrounded by 18.610 sqm of land. 135.000 €. View Property.

Traditional restored Italian stone house with garden. Molise.

Traditional restored Italian stone house for sale in Roccavivara, Molise region of Italy.

Character property of 167 sqm, with vaulted ceilings, exposed bricks and antique furniture. 115.000 €. View Property.

Traditional stone house to renovate, with garden. Abruzzo.

Large stone house to renovate in San Giovanni Lipioni, surrounded by 3.300 sqm of land. Abruzzo, Italy.

Large stone house to renovate, surrounded by 3.300 sqm of land. Solid structure and new roof. 40.000 €. View Property.

Life in Abruzzo. Events and Traditions.

This blog promotes life style in Abruzzo and Molise regions. Events, festivals, traditions and many others interesting, funny and useful tips about Abruzzo and Molise.

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 We bought our house in Italy because we fell in love with it, ruin and all, with no mains services; it had been abandoned for twenty years. We could see the heaved floors, soaked walls due to lack of guttering and the land piled over a metre high at the back wall, north side of the house. We knew that the house involved hard work but honestly we had no real idea, we were excited, enthused by the prospect.

We wanted to embark on the building works ourselves, our finances were low and so we knew that we couldn’t afford surveyors, architects, builders, landscapers, designers, etc... We decided to take on the project ourselves, for most the project would have involved planning on many levels, financial, practical, long term, short term, and critical path analyses! But we were enticed, spontaneous; we were keen but also complete novices.

We both have creative backgrounds and are open to challenges, diversities, the changing ebb and flow of life. And so full steam ahead, fuelled by enthusiasm, drive and commitment we began. Long, long days, weeks, which became months that led to years of long days – time, that is the key. We thought of ourselves as time rich and cash poor, we were happy to invest our time into something we felt important and time is what was required, lots of it and hard work.

We wanted to keep our costs low but also to sensitively restore the house with as many natural, traditional materials as we could keeping a rustic yet visually pleasing look.

We met with our local comune, council and organised the relevant permissions to complete works ourselves. Every local council here is different and permissions and laws change not only from place to place but by year to year. We found ours to be encouraging and whilst there are always hurdles to jump we found this part relatively easy.

So feet first we dived in using just our common sense and a bit of internet research to work out the order of events and the tasks themselves. We wanted to keep our costs low but also to sensitively restore the house with as many natural, traditional materials as we could keeping a rustic yet visually pleasing look. We were keen to be as environmentally friendly and green as possible while not looking for a complete eco house we preferred to minimise the impact. We tried to tread lightly. This we achieved by reusing natural materials and using hand tools for the majority, breathing life back into a smallholding that had been left dormant.

We invested in minimal tools and no big machinery but I would say that our most vital tools became wheelbarrows, shovels, pointing trowels and SDS drills.

We started by firstly working from the top of the house to reduce further water damage on repairs to the caving roof, we replaced main beams and installed all new guttering and drain pipes, repairing the roof ridge tiles, guttering ledges.

We then knew that we had to dig around the house to build armoured cement terracing, this was also stipulated for seismic security. We wanted to dig all of the earth away from the back of the house as this we believed was what was causing the damp walls and heaved floors.

At this point we did employ a man with a digger to excavate around the house as this work with a spade well quite frankly we would still be here in 20 years time. Tons upon tons of earth was removed that we used to landscape around the house so that we could build the terraced floors.

We recycled and used all of the stones that we dug out of the moved earth and we collected more form all around the land, wheelbarrows upon wheelbarrows moved to fill the terraced floors. We even sifted stones from a local farmer’s field as we knew we needed tons more. We then shuttered and armoured 130 plus square metres of terrace ready to pour cement.

Waiting for the cement lorries was a bit scary as we knew we had to lay huge amounts in a really short time, the lorries themselves are quite daunting but surprisingly it isn’t as scary as it seems, just dirty sweaty work!

We had no basic utilities or services and so had to install mains water pipes to the house and around it, we installed a septic tank and system as there are no mains drains in the countryside. We put in land drainage systems to move the ground water from around the back of the house, French drains, and layers upon layers of all kinds of tubing. There were a few stressful moments standing head high in trenches trying to lay sand to the’ turn of a bubble’ on the spirit level to ensure our sewerage pipe was laid at the right incline to drain properly!

There are points when you feel that so much of this work and time and money goes down under the ground where you will never see it again but it is all crucial foundation work. Who would know what you had been playing at all this time!

We slept in a camper, had a simple solar shower and a camp toilet, we realised that you do not need much in life.

We then decided to remove all of the dreary grey concrete render from the external walls so to reveal the beautiful warm maiella stone, we removed, cleaned and repointed the whole house with a traditional lime mortar to not only reflect the stones beautiful colour but to let the walls breathe.

We lime plastered around doors and windows and plastered a band around the roof which we hand painted a pattern to decorate. We used lime washes on the lime plastered areas a colour to match the stone and mortar.

We then dug up all of the downstairs internal floors including the room that once was the cow stall, having to dismantle the cement feeders, again we refilled with found stones, bricks and slowly built layer upon layer including, eco clay balls as insulation and a final screed level to produce a perfect floor with a humidity barrier.

We have spent many a night bobbling around on rocky floors or teetering off ladders to get in or out of the house as it has an external staircase to the first floor which needed repair work. We had a hairy moment when our dog tried to scale 4 metres of scaffolding to enter the first floor of our house when we had knocked down the staircase; he missed his landing fell and bounced but was miraculously unharmed.

The first winter here we decided to take out and restore all of the old wooden doors and windows, one of us being a picture framer meant that we built temporary frames with reclaimed wood and plastic sheeting, toasty!! We had no heat source, we had snow, we realised it was warmer working outside than in. We hand stripped all of the painted surfaces and sanded and restored with natural pigments and linseed oil. They look wonderful but are fairly impractical as they are very drafty. We spent three winter months on this, a long time for beautiful original wooden doors and windows but this saved us on something that would have been very costly to replace. This is where we always choose aesthetics over comfort and practicality.

Over these years we have as well always worked on the land, hectares of overgrown, unkempt land, rescuing olive plants and slowly landscaping, building paths and adding more fruit, flower and nut trees.

We knocked out and made some small windows bigger, we knocked down and rebuilt stone walls, built new rooms, and shaped and stained beams and built wooden terrace roofs with traditional coppi tiles on top.

We lived with temporary bathrooms and kitchens for years, moving them around and around, inside and outside the house depending on which part we were working on even into a tent at one point. We used camp stoves and portable fridges. I guess there is a double edged sword with living and working on a building site but we always tried to keep the site as tidy as we could, after all it was our home.

We knocked off internal cement render in certain places to compliment the original old brick pizza ovens and economic stoves which we also restored.

We did use an official electrician/plumber finally after 5 years to install our heating and water systems and our electrics and mains bathroom systems. We wanted expert advice for this and felt that the price was very reasonable which included our log burning back boiler system. We wanted to use wood as it is something that we are able to source from our woodland. We also paid for the rendered walls to be skimmed after the electrical system was in which we then painted.

We then reached the enjoyable and satisfying jobs like laying tiles and wooden floors; here you really do feel that the end is near and after looking at rocky or cement floors for so long the warm, soft look of terracotta was a dream. We used traditional techniques and invested in over 5000 old tiles, some more than 300 years old. We decided on the patterns to reflect the shape of the floors and laid over 300 square metres of tiles. Incredibly satisfying work if not a bit ropey for the old knees! We were lucky to have a friend who knew a builder, who knew how to use the traditional method to make lime grout and so he showed us how. We loved working in this way, it all felt so rewarding and the finish is rustic, warm and suited our old farmhouse.

There is a Zen like approach with these kinds of building methods, they are continuous, repetitive and mindful but I am certain that maybe the novelty would ware off when it is not your house, but watching metre by metre the beautiful old tiles slowly transforming our dream home was magical.

Our land and house require constant time and effort, love and attention; it is a living, evolving thing.

I guess the key to our approach was to be versatile, flexible, there are steep learning curves to be had but not to be afraid to try, and these things can always be redone. It is constant and ongoing, we are still working now, 8 years on, and there are always jobs, whether they are cosmetics or upgrading or restorative. Our land and house require constant time and effort, love and attention; it is a living, evolving thing.

There is a joy in watching a home appear and fulfilment in those long, hazy days shovelling gravel and sand or knocking down and rebuilding walls, it is tough but you feel content after a full day to sit and relax and savour a fine glass of local wine or to go out and party at a local festa and get up and do it all again. (Well that was in our much younger days!)

We had lots of fun and laughter along the way, the humour in learning building material terminology and trying to pronounce it all in Italian, in trying to barter, ascertain prices at the local builder’s merchants, ours is real character, often visits have led to some great anecdotes. It is all completely manageable but don’t ask me now the words for gravel, sanding disc or bolt as my head has moved on! I think we blew a few minds even changed a few attitudes; I am not convinced that women necessarily attempt these tough building works generally in our area.

This way is not for everyone, and of course it is not the only way. There are many experienced, decent local builders or you may like us have family and friends that were happy to help in exchange for a break in the sunshine with lots of great local wine and food. This is merely our experience.

We hope that the love and attention to detail and time that we have invested is reflected in the end result and that our son one day will smile warmly at his beautiful stone home or smirk at how badly we built that wonky wall!

Tagged in: Restoration
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 We asked a couple of friends from the UK, who have lived in Abruzzo for the past 6 years, what in their opinion are the pros and cons of living in Abruzzo. They are youngish, cultured, with a young kid and have chosen to live in the countryside, to embrace a slower pace of life, surrounded by nature.

Let’s see the pro’s and con’s of living in Abruzzo as a British citizen from Lisa’s point of view:

<< Two decades then past working in the city, long hours for little pay, fun, social times but finally the decision was made to look for a property in Italy. I had started an Italian language night class for beginners and was introduced to the region Abruzzo from a small article I noticed in a national newspaper mentioning the Marsican brown bears. Was it possible that there were bears still surviving in Italy? This led to further research into the region, I was hooked, national parks, mountain ranges, the greenest region of Europe, incredible rare flora and fauna, azure coastlines and untouched medieval villages.

This had to be the place, finances dictated too, we had very limited funds, and this region seemed affordable.

The adventure started, we spent 5 months in our old VW camper weaving through the mountain tracks trying to get a feel for the region and to which part we felt more attracted to.

Our house was incomparable; I had seen it 6 months earlier on the internet and knew from the first visit that it was the house for us. It was a stone house clad in cement, grey, damp, with land, abandoned for 20 years. Absolutely no services, leaking, crumbling and unloved but alluring, I loved it.

First of all the people here are always amazingly warm and welcoming.

We then spent the next 6 years backwards and forwards to the UK due to commitments, family issues and ties, our original ideas foiled but we decided as complete novices to restore the house ourselves, to be the architects, designers, builders, gardeners, whatever was thrown our way. We both have creative backgrounds and so this helped with the design and aesthetics of the build but we essentially embarked on huge learning curves, from laying pipes, septic tanks, removing rendering, re-pointing, plastering to building roofs, walls, rooms, completely digging out and rebuilding heaved floors, landscaping, planting and pruning. All keeping to a rustic, simple traditional look. Many, many temporary kitchens, camp toilets, solar showers and tents. Dust and rubble, wildlife and sleeping under the stars.

Our funds have always been very low but we have invested an incredible amount of time and effort. We became time rich and cash poor. A few years ago we also had our son here; this did not stop works and has enhanced our time here immensely.

The Pro’s of living in Abruzzo in my opinion are many:

First of all the people here are always amazingly warm and welcoming. Our neighbour's are always visiting with barrow loads of offerings from fruit and veg, to eggs and local meats. They are warm without being invasive. We live in an isolated area that we feel very safe and free in.

The cost of living here is very low. There have been low financial costs throughout our time here. Our lifestyle has completely changed due to our low finances but we do not feel that we have missed out on anything due to the quality of life here. Local, organic fruit and veg, wine, meats are much more affordable and delicious. Eating out is of a very high standard and very low cost. We are partial to a glass of wine or two and the quality of wines here are high without the price tag.

Another pro is obviously the beauty of Abruzzo. There are beautiful, inspiring landscapes from beaches to mountains to lake regions. All very untouched and un-touristy, there are also diverse local festa’s and traditions to experience and enjoy.

The attributes here are not obvious, showy and slightly rugged on the edges, you have to work at finding the jewels.

The Con’s that we have experienced here are that it seems harder to find employment and there are lower wages.

It is hard to navigate the beaurocratic systems. The healthcare is also complicated to use. The system itself is very different to the NHS in that It is part state run and part private and you are responsible for all of your own records and booking appointments rather than an integrated system that we are used to. Being one of the first foreigners in our small comune we had to research how to enter the system and then talk to staff in the administrative services to tell them what we had read! But of late and having learnt how the system works we had had small procedures done in a short space of time and efficiently which would have taken a lot longer on NHS waiting times.

It appears that this region has less governmental funding invested. The roads are particularly neglected, they seem to be passable for tractors and put put’s only! I now understand why everyone drives around in 20 year old fiat panda’s!

For us as artists the art scene is fairly minimal. We came here for a slower pace of life and we got it! a more relaxed approach is key.

For most, Abruzzo is a place to come to experience local cuisine and wines, to de-stress, get back to nature, and enjoy the summer heat or ski in the winter snows if that is your thing.

This region has masses of potential, it is less materialistic, nature led, not contrived with wilder landscapes. The attributes here are not obvious,  showy and slightly rugged on the edges, you have to work at finding the jewels, Abruzzo doesn’t shout out at you, you have to go looking for it and in that you see the beauty and benefits.

Property prices here in Abruzzo are very affordable, it is one of the most inexpensive regions in Europe and land is very affordable too. Therefore it is the perfect place to buy for those searching for an alternative style of life immersed in nature or simply for those who have a budget that does not permit to buy in Tuscany or in other expensive regions.

But, the downside is that Abruzzo is not a region to make a profit. I highly doubt at this time that we could sell our house for the costs that we have invested including the work and time that was involved.

Or maybe yes, with a bit of good luck! >>

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 Olive oil flows like blood through the veins of most Abruzzan’s. Famously proud of their culture, traditions and of course their food, olive oil is held in the highest of esteem.

We arrived in this little spot of paradise 8 years ago, heady with desire to make a home in this rich and diverse region, attracted by the wild, uncontrived landscape and the draw of the mountain ranges and azure coast alike. As big city dwellers we were searching for a healthier, slower pace of life and wanted our feet firmly stomping on fertile ground. We were overwhelmed by the depth and passion the Abruzzesi share with everything they do. Olive oil was something we definitely wanted to produce for our little family and extended family and the hoards of friends we knew would descend on us throughout the years.

In September we give a counter prune, take out shoots that have no fruit, or branches that will hinder picking, let in an extra bit of light to mature the fruit.

Our first taste of production was by a chance meeting with our now great friends whilst waiting to view a house in Casalanguida, a place we later found out to be considered the heart of olive oil in this area. We met in March just in time for the pruning stage of the plants and we were openly invited to assist, we eagerly agreed and spent a happy few weeks pruning and cleaning 1000 plants. We say plants as that is the translation here, they are then forced into a tree shape for maximum production.
We learnt that pruning is done in a two year cycle, with half of the trees pruned hard to encourage new growth. Those then would produce less fruit than their less harshly pruned neighbours which would be called production plants for that year. We even joined our friend on a day pruning course to learn how to recover abandoned olives, a skill that became essential when we finally had our own grove.

If you ask 10 locals how to prune you will get more that 20 different solutions, so we slowly fell into our preferred style with consideration to the abandoned grove we have. The plants are huge and were surrounded by edging woodland so we slowly freed the plants revealing gnarly gloriously shaped trunks. Some with so many trunks we renamed them Stonehenge! They are grand and powerful and shimmer in their beauty.
We try to keep them low for ease of picking and try to divide them into four champagne glass shape corners, opening out the centre to allow light throughout the whole plant.
We were told that the olive is very forgiving and they grow so vigorously we have never held back on their sculpting, all is a learning curve and what you may think were mistakes will be forgiven by next year’s growth. Every year we improve on the grove. The grove is then left for the summer, just merely keeping the grass down, the plants make gentle dabbled shade for afternoon naps!
In September we give a counter prune, take out shoots that have no fruit, or branches that will hinder picking, let in an extra bit of light to mature the fruit. The most important job then is to clean around the bases where new growth is shooting up, this makes laying the nets under difficult, we make sure that the bases and land is very clear and clean, this prevents ripping nets, one of our catchphrases is ‘no noses’.

The great harvest – branches laden, drooping to the floor, almost like bunches of grapes. When to pick, that is the question, every year brings new influences, is the fruit ready, how has the weather been, too much water, not enough, too much sun, not enough, high winds at flowering, the dreaded fly, all negate the quality and quantity of the harvest. Ours being an experimental approach we prefer early picking towards the end of October, we prefer full flavours over high production. Again some wait for the plants to be an array of fruit both green and black morphing from one to the other, whilst others will wait till all is black, full of oil, easy picking, or is the choice to wait until the perfect phase of the moon, should your approach be biodynamic.

We were fortunate to become the guardians of some 50 ancient plants, they had been left to make their own way for some 20 years or so, whilst slightly unloved, naturally organic, we uncovered roughly 40 back into production, and have planted a further 30 to keep them company which will take a good few years to bear fruit. We have an enchanting grove scattered with old and new plants.
In all the years that we have harvested we have had glorious sunny short wearing weather, we take 2 long days as we are looking to make extra virgin oil which is based on the acidity level of the oil, the major factor in this is the time the olives are left off the plants to pressing which is why we like to pick and press in 48 hours.

Days when three or sometimes four generations of one family work together tirelessly on their harvest with glorious picnics on groves.

So having checked in with Alberto at the mill we will get up before dawn normally armed with eager friends or family, again in an attempt to make the optimum oil we hand pick our plants which we believe is more gentle on the fruit.
With us and a very energetic toddler we will set out to the grove carrying nets, crates and combs, we lay out the nets below the first tree, we set off on the most joyous job of the year, it never seems like a chore, there is something very humbling about setting your feet on mother earth and looking up through the branches to the sky, cricked neck and all, the sun warming the autumn air and the plant gives up its fruit gratefully knowing that it is going to make you one of the world’s most valued products.

Many use mechanical flippers and we have worked at friends groves in this method too, the valley livens with the energetic sounds of branches being brushed and millions of leaves and olives combed, gently falling to the nets. This is just our little valley imagine that multiplied by thousands again in the Chieti valleys and then the Abruzzi valleys and then the whole of Italy, unimaginable. Days when three or sometimes four generations of one family work together tirelessly on their harvest with glorious picnics on groves.

The days are punctuated with little breaks for coffee, cakes, wines and delights to keep the energy levels high. Picking is hard work, tiring on the legs and necks, lots of looking up and bending down. We work one plant at a time, working methodically, some clambering in the branches, waiting for the unanimous call ‘finito’ signalling the gathering of the nets and skilfully pouring of olives into crates. Then this choreographed ballet moves on to the next plant, two nets down, pegged to prevent escapees rolling away from the charms of the nets. And so with the gentle steady rhythm the day continues with the sound track of lively banter of happy pickers, joking, telling stories and ponderings of life. Then as the day draws dark there is a push to get the last plants to give up their bounty and we head off to the mill. We speculate on the amount, quality, all of our hearts and souls are in these round little fruits and the picking is over for another year.

In the strive for the most perfect oil we use a certified organic mill, it uses cold extraction process, which is an upgraded version of cold pressed, which means you are not heating the oil which affects the flavour.
The mill is always packed, the hubbub of collection and the thrill of completion, talks of quantity and quality, of how the spring was too cold or the summer too hot or of the previous year’s fly problems, stories of years ago when the plants were so full the ground was slippery with it, of days of old when harvests waited until after the first snow!

There is a smell and mist, oily haze at the mill that is unique, you are tired, it is late and chilly but you want to wait to watch your oil pressed, you sit wine in hand until your turn. You excitedly watch your crop being loaded into the hopper to be de-leaved and washed and then the great mulch begins followed by the centrifuge, separating and finally you watch those delicious drops pour, heady smell of fresh mountain grass and the joyous luminous golden yellow green colour appears, the harvest of your love and care and attention gently pours into your shiny steel can. Then to the final olive oil tradition, an experience so rare and exceptional, you bring home your oil and savour the first drizzled taste on fresh bread or homemade chittara, truly amazing, the pepper, the bite at the back of your throat, the freshness, indescribable.

Tagged in: Olive grove Olive oil
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 Once you’ve found a home you want to buy, the next step is to make an offer, usually through an estate agent. There are no restrictions on foreign ownership in Italy.


When you find the right property in Italy you can place an offer. If the offer is accepted by the owner of the property, Abruzzo Rural Property will collect all the document related to the house.

The most important documents are:

  • Titles documents
  • Floor plans and land maps
  • Energy certification

There might be other documents required by the notary. We will provide to the notary all the documents he asks for. The notary will check all the documents, if everything is in order he will issue an estimate. The estimate will include: Notary fee, purchase taxes, registration taxes.

When the notary gives his approval, and issues an estimate the buyer can choose to have a technical survey. The survey is not a mandatory document, it is not required by the notary. Nevertheless, the buyer might want to have it to be sure about the state of house. A survey can be provided by any registered surveyor, architect or engineer.

Preliminary agreement:

At this point after the approval of the notary and after the satisfactory outcome of the survey if the buyer decides to have one done, Abruzzo Rural Property can proceed to write a preliminary agreement.

The preliminary agreement is a pre-purchase contract where we will state:

  • Terms and conditions of the purchase
  • Buyers and vendors’ data
  • Property cadastral data
  • Price of the property

The preliminary agreement must be registered at the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue Agency) to be an official contract. If the preliminary agreement is not registered, it’s value is reduced to a mere agreement amongst two people. When the buyer and the vendor will both have signed the preliminary agreement, the buyer must send a deposit of the 10% of the final purchase price. The deposit can be sent directly to the owner of the house or to the real estate agency that is handling the sale.

Usually the completion’s time after the signing of the preliminary agreement is two or three months. It is possible to complete the sale in shorter time or longer time according to buyer’s and vendor’s need. The terms of the sale will be stated in the preliminary agreement and will have to be respected. The preliminary agreement can be signed from abroad and sent by email. But two original copies with original signatures will have to be posted to Abruzzo Rural Property that will take care of the registration process.

Final Signing - Deed of sale:

The final signing will take place at a notary office here in Italy. To sign the final deed the buyer will have to be present, or he will have to sign a power of attorney in favour of the real estate agent or any other people who can attend the signing.

On the day of the final signing the buyer must complete all the payments: to the owner of the house, to the notary and to the agency.

On the date of the final signing the buyer will receive the keys of the house and will become the new owner of it.

Tagged in: Purchasing process
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