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Finding a home in Italy

Buying a house is a complex process in any country, let alone a new one. Our guide to finding a home in Italy has you covered…

Although 70% of Italians own their property, buying in Italy can be a challenge and will involve a lot of paperwork.

Alternatively, if you work in Rome, or any of the big cities, for example, you may find it cheaper to buy a house or apartment in the suburbs or a nearby town. Some expats, those coming from outside the European Union (EU) countries, may find it more difficult than others to buy a home in Italy. It depends if your home nation has a reciprocal arrangement with Italy. You can check this with the Italian Foreign Ministry, which is open from 9am to 1pm. All expats should be aware that if you are presenting any documents in a language other than Italian — this can include mortgage offers from your bank at home — they’ll have to be officially translated and given a notary’s stamp.

Renting is a popular option.  If you are thinking of renting a room, before you either rent or buy a larger property, try an Italian website. The Italian version of Loot — called Secondamano — is useful for flat searching.

Nuts and bolts

So, you’ve found your dream home, it’s in an excellent area for schools and public transport links, and looks good. First of all, try to use your bank account at home for the purchase. This means that you’ll be able to transfer the money back when you sell as the move will be officially documented, so you’ll benefit from any future profits and you’ll know exactly which taxes you’ll have to pay.

Contact a bi-lingual estate agent from home who’ll liaise with the local agent. You’ll need their help to navigate the complexities of the purchase. It’s a false economy not to use this service, regardless of the fee. This is to protect you from any irregularities that may prove costlier in the long run.

Always check that the seller has the rights to the property. Never exchange any money until you are sure that the property owner really does own the property.

If the seller won’t meet you in person, then alarm bells should start ringing. It’s also an excellent rule of thumb to have all the title deeds translated, as you may buy your property and find strangers wandering across your garden thanks to an ancient right of way that was written into the deeds.

If you’re buying an older property, ensure that all utilities can be connected and that you’ll have water rights. In some parts of Italy water is scarce, and you don’t want to be using an ancient well for your household needs. Modern flats in cities don’t have this problem.

Once you’ve made an offer, get a sale contract drawn up. This is where you’ll make the acquaintance of the local notary. You may be encouraged to make a non-official contribution at this stage, which may speed up the process - it’s best to ask your agent for advice. Once the sales document has been authorised, and the relevant property and purchase taxes have been paid, the property will become yours.


Should the seller withdraw from the deal once you’ve paid your deposit, they’ll have to return the deposit and a fee that’s equal to the deposit. This is important to bear in mind if you decide to put your property on the market at any point. Legal fees are reasonable at 2% of the purchase price, but there’s a hefty Value Added Tax (VAT) charge of 22% on the fees that’s also payable. Notary fees can be up to 2.5%, and you can expect to pay between 3-7% in Registration tax. You’ll also have to find between 4%-22% for VAT on the purchase price. Before you put in an offer, take these costs into account.1

Not decided where to move to yet? Learn more about Italy’s most popular cities from our comprehensive article.

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