Categories: Faq Real estate law

Buying a House in Italy: Your Comprehensive Guide – 16 essential FAQs
Here is a guide to frequently asked questions about buying a house in Italy as a foreigner:

The best time of year to buy a house in Italy is during the off-season, which is typically from November to March. During this time, you are more likely to find good deals and there will be less competition from other buyers.

Some popular areas in terms of perceived value/investment include:

  • Tuscany: Tuscany is known for its rolling hills, vineyards, and medieval towns.
  • Umbria: Umbria is a less touristy region of Italy that is known for its beautiful countryside and historic cities.
  • Liguria: Liguria is located on the Italian Riviera and is known for its beaches, mountains, and delicious food.
  • Veneto: Veneto is home to the city of Venice and is known for its canals, architecture, and wine.
  • Sardinia: Sardinia is a large island off the coast of Italy that is known for its beaches, nature, and history.

Foreigners can buy residential property like houses, villas, apartments, and castles as well as commercial property like offices, shops, warehouses, agriturismos, farms and land for development.

Risks include hidden defects not found in inspections, tax issues if not well advised, restoration problems for older properties, difficulties obtaining mortgages, and legal/regulatory problems without local expertise. Let’s summarize the risks:

  • The bureaucracy: The Italian bureaucracy can be complex and time-consuming.
  • The property condition: Italian properties may not be as well-maintained as properties in other countries.
  • The location: Some parts of Italy are more prone to natural disasters than others.

While English is widely spoken in the major cities, the tourist areas and by professionals, there may be language barriers in more rural areas or with legal documents. It’s suggested to hire a translator or an agent who can speak both Italian and your language.

You can sell your property at any time. Capital gains on the sale of Italian property are subject to tax, but the rate decreases the longer you hold the property. If you resell your property after 5 years from the purchase, even if it generates an important income, the difference in price does not represent a capital gain. So you don’t have to pay any tax on the “earnings”. Capital gains after 5 years are not subject to IRPEF or substitute tax.

You can rent out your property, and this can be a good way to generate income. However, you’ll need to declare this income to the Italian tax authorities. Consider hiring a property management company to handle renting and maintenance if you’re not residing in Italy.

Apart from the property price, what additional costs should I expect? Expect to pay for property transfer taxes, notary fees, legal costs, and agent fees. Typical purchase costs include the purchase price, mandatory notary fees, taxes on the purchase price, translation/legal fees, inspections, 3%-4% agent commissions, banking fees and land registry fee. These can add up to 10-20% of the purchase price. Annual property taxes also apply. There are ongoing costs like property taxes (IMU), utility bills, garbage fee (TARI), and maintenance. Capital gains tax applies to investment property sales.

Registration tax

2% (main residency) – 7% (vacation home) of the purchase price

Mortgage tax

2-4% of the loan amount

Cadastral tax

1% of the cadastral value of the property

Notary fees

1-2% of the purchase price

Legal fees

1-2% of the purchase price

Land registry fees


The actual costs may vary based on the location, size, and type of property being purchased, as well as other factors such as the complexity of the legal work involved.

The steps involved in buying a house in Italy are:

  • Find a property that you are interested in.
  • Make an offer to the seller.
  • Sign a preliminary contract (contratto preliminare).
  • Pay a deposit (caparra confirmatoria).
  • Complete the sale (atto di compravendita).
  • Pay the taxes and fees.

The process generally includes those main steps:

  1. Property search
  2. Preliminary contract
  3. Notary deed (Rogito)

While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly recommended. An agent can help you find the right property, negotiate prices, and navigate through the purchase process. They’ll also have knowledge about the local market and can help you communicate if there’s a language barrier. In case you’re not physically in Italy, an agent can let you visit a property through a video call or a virtual visit made with a 360° camera

Yes, it is highly advisable to engage an Italian real estate attorney. It’s recommended to hire a legal advisor to ensure a smooth process and to help navigate Italian real estate laws and regulations. They help with contracts, required documentation, and legal eligibility.

Foreigners need to have an Italian tax ID number and open an Italian bank account first. Italian banks offer mortgages to foreigners with the same conditions as locals, but you need to have valid help. Proof of sufficient income is required. The process may be more complex than in your home country, and you’ll likely need to provide a hefty amount of paperwork. It’s advisable to work with a mortgage broker who specializes in helping foreigners secure Italian mortgages.

No, foreigners do not need an Italian residency visa or permit to buy real estate in Italy. The property purchase itself does not grant residency rights. At this time (2023) there’s no specific Visa for real estate investments. The only possibility to get Italian citizenship through investment is related to the so-called Golden Visa.

And often a mortgage loan pre-approval from an Italian bank is needed to sign the preliminare (initial deed) and purchase the property.

Yes, foreign citizens can purchase houses in Italy, but there are some conditions to meet:

  1. Foreigners regularly residing in Italy with a valid residence permit or residence card can buy property, along with their family members.
  2. Foreigners not currently residing in Italy can still purchase property if there is a reciprocity agreement between Italy and their country of origin allowing Italian citizens to buy there.
  3. EU/EFTA citizens and stateless persons living in Italy for over 3 years have no restrictions on buying property.

Italy offers a rich cultural history, stunning landscapes, and a high quality of life. Plus, the country has a diverse real estate market with opportunities ranging from countryside villas to city apartments. It’s a great opportunity for those looking for a second home, retirement destination, or investment. Buying a property in Italy can be a good investment only with the necessary local advice. The Italian property market has been stable for a long time, and prime locations like Rome, Milan, or Tuscany have seen consistent demand during 2023. However, market conditions can vary, and it’s important to do thorough research or consult with a real estate expert.