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7 Things to Know Before Buying Property in Italy

7 Things to Know Before Buying Property in Italy

Owning a villa overlooking the Amalfi Coast, a farmhouse in the Emilia-Romagna countryside or a chic apartment in the center of Milan are all possible with the right plan. If the dream of living in Italy has been on your mind and you are finally ready to make the move, there are a few things to know and consider before buying a property in Italy.

In this article:

Can foreigners buy a house in Italy?

The short answer is yes, but the first thing you need to do is find out if you qualify as one of the foreign nationals who are allowed to buy a home in Italy. If sanctions by the Italian government or the European Union are applied against a nation, citizens will not be allowed to purchase property in Italy.

For foreigners who enter and reside in Italy legally, they will have the same rights and protections as Italian citizens regarding property sales and purchases. Individuals and corporations alike are allowed to buy property in Italy.

Decide if you are buying a second home or relocating

If you are relocating to Italy or looking for a vacation home, the traits of your new home will vary. A family relocating to Italy will need schools and a nice community, whereas a holiday home should be easy to reach yet offer privacy.

Budgets for long-term residency should be higher as you will want a home that you can transform into your own and possibly sell when the time is right.

However, a holiday home can be rented out when you are not using it. Tourism is an important part of the Italian economy, and this is reflected in the investment in the industry. Tourism generated 13.1% of the Italian GDP in 2019 and a recent post-pandemic surge in travel to Italy has shown that tourism revenues in Italy increased to 4291.50 Million euros in June from 3361.59 Million euros in May of 2022. [Source]

Check foreign exchange and interest rates

Although long-term interest rates have increased in recent years, Italy has a lower interest rate than other European countries.

Data as of Aug 2022. Click here for updates

The Italy Long Term Interest Rate is the yield received for investing in an Italian government-issued bond with maturity at or close to 10 years. The rate is compiled by the ECB to provide a comparable long-term rate for every European country. The yield of long-term bonds is closely watched by central banks as lowering yields can signal a lack of confidence in the economy. Italy’s Long Term Interest Rate is at 3.30%, compared to 3.36% last month and 0.63% last year. This is lower than the long-term average of 3.52%.)
ReportECB Long Term Interest Rates
CategoryInterest Rates
SourceEuropean Central Bank

Exchange rates will also affect an investment. Recent data shows that the Euro to US Dollar Exchange Rate is at a current level of 0.999, up from 0.9954 the previous market day and down from 1.178 one year ago.

Regions with increased popularity in tourism have higher property costs. If you come from a country outside the EU with an advantageous foreign exchange rate, it may be a good time to consider buying property in Italy.

Don’t believe the headlines

We’ve all seen the headlines: “An American Couple Bought an Italian Villa Online” or “Buy A House in Italy for 1 euro”. Quite frankly, these kinds of articles are sensationalized and there is more to it than the title leads you to believe.  The wife in the American couple story was originally from Calabria, knew the place and had relatives to go and check it out for her. The 1-euro house sales require that you sign a contract agreeing to a required minimum investment of €20-25,000 (or more) for renovation work, plus a security deposit of €5,000 to guarantee that buyers will actually go through with the development project. 

Do additional research and read between the lines when seeking out property deals.

Photo by Viviana Rishe/Unsplash

Speak with Professionals in Italy

There is no shortage of real estate agents in Italy but when making a new purchase, be sure to deal with a reputable company.

To buy or sell a house, private deals can be carried out without a real estate agency, however, you will need a lawyer and a notary.  An international tax consultant will also be valuable, especially if you are relocating to Italy.

If you need a referral and list of professionals who can help, consult the Easy Milano online Directory, or click here to access our private consultation service, Ask an Expat.

Know where to go

Far too often, we receive vague questions like “I want to buy a house in Italy, what town should I buy in?”

There is no easy answer. If you don’t know where you want to live yet, you must read, travel and do hands-on research.

Living in Lombardy and living in Molise are completely different, as is the cost of living. The definition of paradise for one person may be inferno for another.

The geographical distribution in Italy of properties owned by expats or non-EU citizens diverges: about 94% of these properties are located in the Central-Northern regions.

In particular, in Lombardy, there are 90,265 (0.8% ) properties owned by non-EU citizens. In Veneto there are 34,488 properties, 0.6% and in Emilia Romagna 26,180 (0.5%) properties. [Source]

In contrast, the number of properties owned by non-EU residents is lower in the South; 143 properties in Molise and 156 properties in Basilicata, equal to 0.03% and 0.02% respectively.

Prior to buying any property, make an investment in traveling and discovering different regions of Italy. Rent a property for a few months before making any final decisions.

Checklist for buying property in Italy

☑ Find a reputable real estate agent, lawyer and notary

☑ Prepare required documents

☑ Have a builder or architect evaluate the integrity of the property

☑ Have a law firm check outstanding debts on the property before parting with any money

☑ Talk to your prospective neighbors about the area

☑ Research the climate; learn about humidity levels, rain/flooding, seismic activity, wildfires or other factors that may play a role in protecting your property

☑ Document the state of the property with photos

☑ Explore the property at least twice before you make a decision

☑ Set your budget limit and stick to your initial financial estimate

☑ Check utilities; power, water, gas, Wi-Fi, and TV/Satellite reception

☑ Learn about schools, hospitals, airports and other essential services in the area

With a little bit of planning, you can find the ideal Italian property for you and your family. Remember, before buying, consider the climate, location and the type of property you want. It’s important to do your research so that you can find the perfect place to call home.

We hope this article has helped shed some light on becoming a property owner in Italy. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Article by Celia Abernethy, Easy Milano

Featured image by Yanapi Senaud, location Canonica di Corteranzo, Murisengo, Italy

Easy Milano

Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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