Buy a house in Italy

Buying a property in Italy step by step

Have you found your dream house near one of the lovely lakes? Have you decided to buy a (holiday) home in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? Then you will unfortunately also have to deal with one of the biggest drawbacks of this beautiful country; the bureaucracy. In order to ensure a smooth process between finding your dream home and becoming the owner, we will help you get started with a concise step-by-step plan.

  1. Codice Fiscale

If you are considering buying a property in Italy, the first step to take is to apply for a tax identification number (codice fiscale). You need this code for almost everything; from opening a bank account, taking out contracts (gas, internet, telephone), to renting or buying a house.

This code is used on all Italian official correspondence and documents and is issued by the Agenzia delle Entrate (The Italian tax authorities). You can do the application for the codice fiscale in advance, it is free, fast and easy via the website

  1. Opening an Italian bank account

If you want to buy a property, it is useful to open a bank account in Italy to facilitate payment procedures. Bank accounts are available for both residents and non-residents. If you are not a resident you can open a nonresident account (in Italian a so-called conto estero or conto internazionale)

  1. Making an irrevocable offer to buy (proposta irrevocabile d’acquisto).

When you have found your dream home and you want to purchase it, you will make an irrevocable offer to buy. This is a unilateral legal transaction in so far as the offer to buy is binding only for you as buyer and – should the vendor accept your offer – obliges you to the purchase.  It’s important the offer to buy already contains all essential information for the future sales contract, as well as a deadline for its acceptance on the part of the vendor.  This deadline  is usually 14 days. When the offer to buy is made, you need to pay a small amount to the real estate agent as a deposit. Until the 2 weeks of the deadline expires you will have enough time to have a thorough look into the property. You or your legal adviser can do some cadastral checks and investigate the title of the property at the “Land registry” (Conservatoria e Catasto). It’s important to check facts like, is the property regularly registered,  is the person selling the house indeed the owner and are there mortgages on the property.

  1. The preliminary contract (IL CONTRATTO PRELIMINARE)

The preliminary contract (in Italian IL CONTRATTO PRELIMINARE or compromesso) is the agreement by which the parties commit themselves to the determination of a next definitive contract (the notarial sales contract). With the preliminary contract the ownership is not yet transferred, but the obligation arises to transfer it at a later date. The preliminary contract must contain all essential elements of the subsequent final contract, and is already legally binding. Most of the times the notarial contract will be signed within one to three months after the preliminary contract.

Once the preliminary contract has been signed and the deposit, usually equal to approximately 10% of the purchase price, has been paid, the seller can decide to withdraw by repaying the paid deposit to the buyer plus an amount equal to the down payment. (So ​​suppose you have paid 10,000 euros deposit , you will get this amount back plus 10,000 euros compensation from the vendor). If, on the other hand, the buyer withdraws, he loses the full down payment he has done.


The final deed or the notarial contract is the final phase of the purchase of a property. The ownership of the property changes directly after the conclusion of the notarial contract and is transferred to the buyer. You are supposed to be sufficiently competent in the Italian language at the time of the reading and signing of the deed. If this is not the case, the contract must be translated in advance and a translator must be present when executing the deed.

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