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.

Restored townhouse at 6 km from the beach. Casalbordino.

Character palazzo with roman ceilings and exposed bricks for sale in Italy, near the beach.

Character townhouse of about 200 sqm with beautiful roman ceilings and exposed bricks. 175.000 €. View Property.

Traditional Italian stone house with garden in Molise.

Character property with vaulted ceilings, exposed bricks and antique furniture for sale in Italy.

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

Restored traditional town house close to the Trabocchi coast.

Character palazzo with vaulted ceilings and exposed bricks for sale in Italy, near the beach.

Traditional townhouse of about 300 sqm with gorgeous exposed bricks and vaulted ceilings. 320.000 €. View Property.

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Are You an American Thinking About Buying a Home in Italy?

Posted by on in Succesful property purchase in Italy

If you’d told me when I was a young girl in the Midwest that someday I’d own a house in Italy, I’d probably have laughed it off. Owning a home in a foreign country — any foreign country, let alone Italy — always seemed to me like something that only movie stars did.

But here I am today, a middle class American with a second home in the beautiful, green region of Abruzzo, Italy. It’s a dream come true and something that brings me and my husband great joy.

Buying a home in Italy may seem complicated and confusing. The truth is, the process is very simple and straight-forward — as long as you choose the right real estate agency. Offering residents an attractive lifestyle with an emphasis on family, scenic beauty and world-famous food and wine, expats moving to Italy will be seduced by the country and its passion for la dolce vita.

My husband and I were looking for homes specifically in the Abruzzo region because of the amazing property prices there right now. We went with Abruzzo Rural Property, and it was the best choice we could have made.

Below, I’ll explain some tips and advice for first-time American home buyers in Italy. I’ll also explain how the home buying process in Italy differs from that of the United States.

Can Americans Really Buy Homes in Italy?

Yes! Not all foreigners outside the EU can purchase property in Italy, but it is perfectly legal for Americans to. It all comes down to reciprocity treaties that Italy has with other countries. Italy and the United States have a reciprocity treaty stating that Americans can buy property in Italy and Italians can buy property in America.

Just remember that if you’re not an EU citizen, you still have limits on the amount of time you can spend in Italy (without a visa, 90 days within a 180-day period). But this is okay if you plan to use your Italian house as a seasonal home. For example, this is what my husband and I do, and we never have a problem overstaying the 90-day limit.

To be honest, we are now in the process of buying a home in the U.S. — and it is much more complicated in many ways!

What’s the Real Estate Market Like in Italy Right Now?

House prices in Italy have been falling since the early days of the credit crunch and right now is the time to buy a home in Italy, particularly in the regions of Abruzzo or Molise (east of Rome in Central Italy, right on the Adriatic Sea). Currently, prices are extremely cheap and reasonable here — down as low as $300 to $350 per square meter.

While these prices have been low for several years now, they won’t be this affordable forever. Interest in Abruzzo and Molise property has risen sharply in recent years, and many buyers from America, the UK, Australia, and beyond are flocking there to purchase cheap, old Italian property in absolutely breathtaking locations.

How Does the Home Buying Process Differ in Italy?

Here are several key ways that buying a home in Italy is different than buying a home in America:

  • “Open Houses” for viewing homes in Italy are rare; to see a home, you’ll need to make an appointment with a real estate agent. Fortunately, this is easy and only entails calling them up and scheduling a time to meet.
  • All individuals whose names will be on the new property title will need something called a Codice Fiscale. This is an identification code or tax code unique to each individual (similar to a social security number in the U.S.). Your real estate agent can set this up for you, but expect to hear about it often.
  • In Italy, notaries handle the sale of property (the closing) instead of attorneys as in the U.S.
  • Once you decide to move forward buying a house, you’ll need to pay a deposit of about 10% to “hold” the house. This will be after you sign the Compromesso (preliminary contract) and before you close.
  • Should the buyer withdraw from the sale after the Compromesso (preliminary contract) is signed and the deposit is paid, the buyer will be forced to reimburse you double the amount of the deposit (for a deposit of €6,000, they’ll have to pay you €12,000).
  • In Italy, the buyer pays the notary’s fees, which can be difficult to estimate. In the end, the sum will be based on the declared value of the property. As you move forward with the sale, your real estate agent will work out the exact amount for you.
  • As an American, in order to pay the deposit, fees, and purchase price in Euros, you’ll have to transfer funds from USD to Euro, which can be expensive when you factor in exchange fees. Fortunately, your realtor can help you make the transfer with as little mark-up on conversion as possible, but you’ll need to be able to make an international transfer with your bank.
    Make sure this is possible at the bank you plan to use before leaving the U.S. In addition, call your bank to make sure you’ll have access to your accounts overseas (sometimes as a security precaution, they’ll lock you out of your account if they detect you’re trying to access it from outside the U.S.).
  • On the closing date, you, the seller, your real estate agent, and the notary will meet to go over the contract and finalize the sale. Because the contract will be read in Italian, your real estate agent (who ideally will speak English!) may have to sign on your behalf as having read and understood the terms of the contract in Italian. Rest assured you will sign as well, and you will be stated as the owner(s).

Is Buying a Home in Italy Difficult?

No! While I had some experience living and working in France, I had never even visited Italy before we arrived to buy a house there.

The process is simple and straightforward, but there’s a catch: You have to choose the right real estate agency. Buying direct from a seller would have been a nightmare for us as there are many hoops to jump through and processes we don’t understand as Americans. You’ll need help; that’s clear. But if you have a great real estate agent on your side, they’ll do the complicated work for you.

Because many real estate agencies know that the Italian buying process is confusing for Americans, the best agents will speak fluent English and basically guide you through every step — beginning to end. Your biggest job will be narrowing down the house you want to buy.

To be honest, we are now in the process of buying a home in the U.S. — and it is much more complicated in many ways!

I wish you luck in pursuing your dream of owning a house in Italy, and I recommend you don’t put it off. Prices are extremely low right now, so it’s the perfect time to buy. It was an excellent experience for our family, and I hope it will be for you too! Buona fortuna!

Author: Faye Christiansen

Bio: Professional freelance copywriter from Petoskey, Michigan in the United States. She has bought her home in Abruzzo, Italy in summer 2018. Besides working as a freelance writer, she enjoys reading, sewing and history and travels often with her husband Will.

Tagged in: Purchasing process