TYPES OF PROPERTY
A move away from farming in past centuries has forced entire families to move to the cities, leaving behind beautiful but dilapidated farmhouses and rustic houses. Nonetheless, the preferred way is hunting the large treasury of ancient houses that make so special the medieval Italian cities..
Prices in and around the sea in northern Italy start (2006) from around € 350,000 for a one-bedroom apartment to € 1,200,000 for a three bedroom with sea view. There are still larger houses available to buy for under € 300,000, but they will be in need of renovation and / or will be in rural areas or on the hills at a minimum distance of 5 km. from the sea shore.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
A formal written offer is made and a deposit of five – ten per cent should be available as soon as the offer is accepted. The exchange of contracts (known as the preliminary agreement) is normally carried out within one month of the proposal. This formalises the proposal and at this stage another 20-25 per cent of the asking price needs to be paid. Completion will be about two-three months after the exchange of contracts. This will, however, depend on the situation and agreement between parties. At the completion stage, the public record office tax and notary fees will also be payable. The Public Record Office tax is payable one time to complete the buying process directly to the notary; the amount of this registration fee vary a lot at any one time and need to be calculated in advance by your real estate agent.
THE REAL ESTATE AGENT
If, as usual in Italy, you hire the assistance of a real estate agent to benefit of the advantages of his background to choose among many products and accomplish the elaborate buying / selling process, you need a serious, honest and experienced agent. Hard to find? Not for a skilled buyer: 1. Choose the oldest real estate agency in the vicinity you want to buy: if they are still operative in the same area since many years, it is a hot guarantee. 2. Test how many general and specific information they will patiently give you: they must know that as a foreigner you need a lot of extra useful news. 3. Ask for testimonials (of your same nationality if possible): they should don’t fear you expects the same deal as they did. 4. Be cautious with the big franchising organizations scattered across the country: in the best case they deserve impersonal standard treatment but they frequently hire and puts you in the hands of poor experienced youngsters and the commission, having to be split between the franchiser and the franchisee, is often higher as usual.
In Italy the sales commission will be paid from both seller and buyer, each one for an amount usually corresponding at 3% (plus 20% VAT) of the whole paid price. However, being each Agency able to practise her own brokerage rate, you MUST be informed in advance. A serious experienced Agency will let you known it before every deal to avoid any misunderstanding. Be cautious when not notified, and suspicious by unclear or fuzzy answers: if you can’t change real estate agent, let’s sign up a written pact.
There are three taxes payable each year on your property in Italy: a council tax called ICI, which you pay to your local community and IRPEF (revenue tax), which you pay to the State. If you doesn’t work in Italy you are not subject to such tax. The third tax is the “garbage tax”, called RSU. It is difficult to say how much these taxes would amount to, as they are dependent on the size of your house and on the particular community where you buy in and what you produce, in case, in Italy. They are usually calculated by a local commercialista (accountant). Your real estate agent can though give you an idea about that amount..
RESTORATION, REFURBISHMENT, RENOVATION
Anyone wanting to restore a property, should be aware that much labour is done al nero or “under the table”. If you don’t ask for a fiscal receipt for labour hired, the unwritten rule is that you get a “discount” equal to the 20 per cent VAT. Usually not advisable practice because without any guarantee on the quality of the work. If you need a receipt for tax deductions make sure to specify that you require a ricevuta fiscale: this will represent also a guarantee on the work. By law the IVA (VAT) tax should by default be included in estimates or clearly explained when excluded; if not always ask clarification..
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