11 steps to buying your dream home in Italy

Sorry to break it to you, but it’s nearly the end of the year. Which means it’s time for people to start dreaming about new starts and fresh beginnings… just like last year. If your dream revolves around buying a house in Italy and living La Dolce Vita for evermore, here are a few tips to get you started!

1. Do your research. Italy is a pretty big place with huge variety in terms of climate and geography. Whether you want sunny beaches, snowy mountains or row upon row of vineyards, you can find it here. Get out a map, look at the different regions, maybe search out some blogs, ask questions about daily life in the various areas and get on immobiliare.it to get an idea of property prices.

2. Figure out what you really want. Do you want to be surrounded by other expats or living in a tiny mountain village where everyone speaks dialect? City or country? Beach or vineyards? Do you need to be near an airport or have easy access to the rest of Europe? There’s a lot more to Italy than just Tuscany (not that Tuscany isn’t lovely) so do your research!

RIC_2395

Beach life looks ok…

 

3. No amount of time typing stuff into google can replace time on the ground. Once you have a shortlist of areas you need to spend as much time in them as possible. Drive around, go to cafés and restaurants and talk to locals or expats. Try to visit at various times of year too. There’s no point falling in love with somewhere in summer only to realise that it’s dreary and rainy for the other six months of the year (unless of course you like dreary and rainy, in which case I can also recommend Scotland).

4. Meet some estate agents. Once you’ve settled on an area it’s time for the search to really begin. Be specific about what you want, but also listen to their advice. They know a lot more about properties in that area than you do. Don’t let yourself be swayed too much though or you’ll spend hour upon hour driving around to look at completely inappropriate properties. If you find somewhere you like and it needs a bit of TLC, ask the agent to bring along a geometra so that you can get an idea of the work that’s needed and how much it will cost (you should then at least double those estimates!). Most areas have English-speaking agents who cherry pick the most ‘foreigner-friendly’ properties, so if your Italian isn’t too good, give one of them a try.

Monforte d'Alba walks restaurants

How about village life?

 

5. Of course, you don’t have to use an agent; many people buy and sell houses privately in Italy. Leave leaflets in bars explaining what you’re looking for, check the local newspaper and ask around. If you find somewhere nice but you’re scared to navigate the buying process alone, you can always ask a friendly agent to help you out for a small fee.

6. You’ve found a house you like, now you just have to buy it. If you’re going to get a survey (most people don’t in Italy, but it’s always a good idea) now’s the time to do it. Try to talk to neighbours too, in case they know something about the place (good or bad…) and if you want to renovate, ask the agent to take you to the town hall to meet with the Ufficio Tecnico to discuss your plans.

Roof from inside

The roof may look nice but will it actually keep you dry?

 

7. Make an offer. This is done in the form of a contract, which the estate agent will be able to talk you through. You fill in a form saying how much you want to pay, hand over a cheque for a deposit (you choose the amount) and if the vendor accepts they sign the form and that’s that. If you pull out after the contract is signed you lose your deposit, if the vendor pulls out they pay you twice your deposit, so think carefully about how much you want to put down. Don’t be afraid to offer low. A lot of people put their houses on the market speculatively and won’t listen to offers at all, but if you can find someone who really wants to sell there are definitely bargains to be had right now. You’ll never know if you don’t try!

8. Once your offer is accepted you need to find a good notaio. They do all the legal checks on the property and deal with the contracts. Your agent can advise you on this, or just ask a local if they can recommend someone. Once the notaio is ready (usually a month or two later), you, the vendor and the agent go to his office to sign forms and hand over money (see points 9 and 10) and keys.

9. Pay tax. If you buy the house as your first home (which means you have to take residence there within 18 months) you pay 3 per cent tax on the purchase price. If it’s a second home, you pay 10 per cent. If you buy it as your first home and don’t take residence within the allotted time you’ll get a big old fine so don’t try to be sneaky to save money. They’ll find you. They always find you…

Frabosa Soprana view, powder, Piemonte, Italy

How about living in the mountains?

 

10. Pay the estate agent. Agents in Italy are paid 3 per cent of the purchase price by the buyer and 3 per cent by the seller. Again, you can’t really get out of this one, but seeing as you’re paying him or her handsomely, make sure you make your agent work for their money! Dance, agent, dance!

11. Move in. The agent should help you sort out all the utilities and insurance and then all that’s left is to move in, make friends with your neighbours, visit the local café a lot so that everyone gets to know you and start living the Italian dream!

I can’t recommend estate agents around Italy, but if you want to know some good ones here in Piemonte get in touch and I’ll happily point you in the right direction!

Hanging out with our Italian family

Now you’ve got your little piece of Italy, it’s time to sit back, relax, and eat and drink too much!

 

 

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36 responses to “11 steps to buying your dream home in Italy

    • Kind of both and neither… I took some evening classes in Bristol before we left, which gave me a really basic understanding, and I own pretty much every ‘learn Italian in the car’ course that has ever been made. I’ve found Michel Thomas to be the best, by the way. I’m still not that good, but I’m very slowly improving.

  1. Great advice. May I add, Remove rose tinted glasses before visiting Italy and visit in the summer and also in the winter. We seem to have more rain than Manchester at the moment

  2. Good advice from both your fine self and PN. MM is in the same boat, so to speak – the kids are home early from school, which closed early before everyone had to swim back (several school buses are marooned). I lived in Scotland for a year and I swear it rained less than it does here…. in the south of France.

    • I was really hoping after such a rainy summer that winter might be beautiful. It’s not got off to a great start though… It does makes me feel slightly better to know that it’s just as bad in France though (sorry!).

      • The main road was flooded this morning, its like having my own personal moat around the castle. I have started building an Ark, do you want to come and help.

      • I would come and help, but we’re currently marooned as well. I need to build a raft to get out of Novello before I can help with you Ark. This rain is really starting to annoy me now!

      • I have discovered a new river that has appeared over night. Today I will set off with my pith hat and my wellies in search of its source.

        As the discoverer I think it is only right that I get to name it. I will upload pictures of Fiume Pecora Nera later this week 🙂

    • Thanks! Ooh, that’s a tough question. For a small place that needs a bit of work you could get something for under 100,000 Euros. For a nice, three-bed, perfectly restored place with a bit of land, you’re probably looking around 300,000 euros and up. It really depends on the area though.

  3. On behalf of Scotland – can I object to the “dreary” please.
    It is irainy at times and currently also quite dark most of the time.
    But one of the main reasons we can’t make our mind up whether to decamp to Italy or not is that the fact it is anything but dreary, even after 20y of ex-pat life.

    • Haha… ok, I apologise. Scotland is beautiful. In fact, were it not for the weather and darkness it would be the perfect place in my eyes. So, any suggestions what I can change Scotland to? I need somewhere really dreary…

  4. I’m sure there’ll be places in most countries that qualify. It’s really flat landscapes covered by days of horizontal rain that give me that dreary feeling. Unfortunately that means my birthplace in Germany and the adjacent Netherlands have their fair share of dreariness.

  5. I have a property I have found and would like to have you recommend a real estate agent. It is listed through Piedmont Properties. Should I contact them directly or get a different buying agent?

    • We looked at a few houses with Piedmont Properties but they didn’t have anything that worked for us. However, they seemed ok and I’ve never heard anything that would suggest they can’t be trusted. Personally, I would contact them directly and see how you get on.

  6. Hi , I am a recent convert here… finding your site illuminating and relevant as we slowly fumble our way out of our current Asian domicile back towards Europe – perhaps Peidmont ? Could I please take you up on the offer of suggestions for an estate agent to work with ? I do of course have 63849 more questions but an answer for this one would be grande !
    Grazie e auguri

    • Hi Anna, thanks for your message. And good choice, Piedmont is amazing!! Would you mind sending me a quick email please, my address is at the bottom of the About page, and then I can replay and answer as many questions as you like!

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