Purchasing a home in italy
Having decided to buy a house or estate in Italy, the purchase process will require a number of steps to be taken:
1. PRELIMINARY CONTRACT ( “COMPROMESSO” OR “CONTRATTO PRELIMINARE”)
The preliminary contract specifies the items and points of agreement between the parties and turns it into a legally binding private contract. This contract also details all the relevant data of the property, fixes the purchase price, the payment method and sets a date for the final contract.
A point of particular interest is the “Caparra Confirmatoria”, an Italian peculiarity that secures the preliminary contract through a prepaid deposit of between 10% and 40% of the purchase price. This deposit is paid to the seller at the signing of the preliminary contract. If the purchaser withdraws from the contract, the deposit is forfeited. Conversely, if the seller withdraws from the contract, he is obliged to pay double your initial deposit.
The preliminary contract needs to be registered at the Tax Office – Ufficio delle Entrate within 20 days. The costs are 168 Euros for each copy and a ‘marca da bollo’ (stamp) of 14,62 Euro for every 100 rows and for each attachment. The Buyer has also to pay 0.5% registration tax on the deposit (“Caparra Confirmatoria”) that will be deducted from the taxes paid at the signing of the Deed.
2. FINAL CONTRACT (“ROGITO” OR “ATTO DI COMPRAVENDITA”)
In spite of the legal validity of the preliminary contract, the public registration of the purchase through a final contract attested by a notary, is decisive for the ownership. The notarized final contract serves to evidence a chain of uninterrupted ownership required to effect a sale. Furthermore, the final contract forms the basis for all tax computations and must therefore be signed in front of a public notary. The notary will determine that no third party mortgage or liens encumber the property, verifies all relevant data and checks the existence of all legally required licenses and permits.
The seller and purchaser must personally attend the signing or be represented by someone with an official power of attorney. Prior to signing the final contract, the remaining balance of the purchase price must be paid to the seller.
The final contract will also contain a declaration of the parties regarding the method of payment (usually banker’s drafts, “assegni circolari”) and if there has been used any mediation (Real Estate Agent) and the relevant costs (agent’s commission).
Once the notary has countersigned the documents, the final contract is entered into the official land/building registry (“Conservatoria dei Registri Immobiliari”). Two/three weeks after signing the new owner can pick up a certified copy of the final contract at the notary’s office.
If a purchaser does not have sufficient language abilities in Italian to comprehend the contents and stipulations of the final contract, the presence of an official interpreter is legally required.
Power of Attorney
If the buyer can’t be physically present at the signing of the final contract, he/she can endow a trustworthy person of their choice with a special power of attorney (“procura speciale all’acquisto”). This document can be issued to the purchaser locally by a public notary or in his country of residence by the Italian consulate or a public notary (with “Apostille”).
3. PURCHASE TAXES
If the seller is a private person:
- The taxes that are due with the purchase of your property are: imposta di registro, imposta ipotecaria, “imposta catastale”. The payment is due at the signing of the final contract (usually by cheque)
- Buildings: 10% on the value set by the Building Registry Office – “valore catastale”
- Agricultural land: 18% of the declared price
- However, there are reduced tax rates for the house in the case of Italian residency: if within 18 months after the purchase, your new house is established as your primary residency in Italy, the property purchase taxes are reduced from 10% to 3% (imposta di registro) plus the imposta ipotecaria e catastale of €168 each. The taxes for the land don’t change.
If the seller is a building company and the sale takes place within 4 years after the end of the works instead of the registration tax, VAT must be paid:
- 10% VAT (20% if it is a luxury property)
- Plus the imposta ipotecaria e catastale of €168 each
Further expenses: In addition to taxes, the following expense items are payable at the time of the final contract:
- Notary’s fees: between €1,000 and €5,000 approx. + approx. €500-600 €of expenses for his researches. The payment is due at the signing of the final contract (usually by cheque)
- Surveyor’s fees: varies according to the services rendered
- Agency Commission: Casambiente charges 3% of the purchase price (subject to a minimum of €3000,00 for properties valued below €100.000,00) plus VAT
- Translator’s fees: variable, subject to rate and hours worked…
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