Choose your property
Ask for a tax code
Fix the price
Wait for confirmation
BEFORE THE DEED
First step: asking for a Fiscal Code
In order to buy a house, you will need a ‘Codice Fiscale’: a code number that you can easily get.
If you are already in Sicily, we can take you to a local tax office to get it: it usually takes a couple of minutes. If not, you can ask for it at your nearest Italian Embassy, also by mail, sending your details and attaching a copy of your passport. You will not usually be asked the reason for requesting a Codice Fiscale, but if you are, it is enough to declare that you are thinking about purchasing a house in Italy.
Second step: signing up for the property
Purchase proposal/Preliminary agreement!
In Italy there are different ways to arrive at the stage of signing the deed.
The process might vary, depending on the circumstances. If you are purchasing a property with a large piece of land, once the price has been established with the estate agency, you will sign a purchase proposal in the estate agency office. This will be validated by a bank cheque of yours (usually 10-20% of the price) to seal the deal. The cheque will be retained by the Agency but not cashed. The estate agency will deliver the purchase proposal to the vendor, who has 10 days to sign for acceptance. Once the vendor has signed, he can cash your cheque. If you decide to pull out, you will lose that first instalment. Should the seller decide to pull out, he is obliged to repay double the payment you have made for the first instalment. At the same time, the estate agency will send letters to the neighbours, who have the right of first refusal. The neighbours have 30 days to answer. If no neighbour is interested in the property, you can proceed with the process of purchasing.
If the property is a house without relevant land, there is no right of first refusal. So there is no need to make a purchase proposal and a preliminary agreement can be signed straightaway. It is best drawn up by a notary and signed in front of him. This means that all property documentation is checked straightaway by us and the notary to make sure that everything is in order with the planning permissions etc. At this time you have to give the vendor a deposit, normally about 30% of the purchase price. Again: If you decide to pull out after this step, you will lose this first instalment. Should the seller decide to pull out, he or she will have to pay double the amount of the first instalment. Also, at this time you will need to pay the Estate Agency fee, usually 3% of the purchase price.
THE DEED AND NOTARY’S ROLE
Third step: the deed
By law, the deed needs to be signed by, and in front of, a notary that you have appointed and who has already examined all the documents. He ensures that all documentation is properly prepared verifying that there is nothing legally wrong with the property or the purchase, that there are no unpaid mortgages, that there are no other interests that need to be addressed before completion etc. The vendor and the buyer must be present at the meeting or represented through a power of attorney. We and the estate agency will be at your side to translate what the notary is saying (should he not speak English or if you do not speak Italian), while the documents will be written in the two languages: Italian and English. The due payment will be made through a cashier’s cheque and registered in the deed with a trace number.
The purchase taxes are 9% for the houses. The buyer can choose if to pay 9% of the price paid or 9% of the cadastral value. The cadastral income can be found in the documents by the Notary. This is the system to calculate the cadastral value on which the 9% will be charged: take the cadastral income, add 5% and multiply the result by 120. To choose this system may be convenient. Let’s make an example: you are buying a house with a cadastral income of 1.000 euros, paying it 200.000 euros. If you apply the cadastral value rule, the tax base is 1000 x 1.05 x 120 = 126,000 euros. The 9% registration tax will be 11.340 euros. If you choose to pay the tax on the purchase price, the registration tax is calculated on the value of 200,000 euros, so you would pay 18,000 euros. So better to check with the notary, before the deed, the system that is more convenient for you. If you decide to be resident in your new property in Sicily and have no other houses in Italy, purchase taxes for the house will be reduced: 2% (see below). The purchase tax for agricultural land is 15%. The purchase tax and the notary fee will be paid at the same time with a cheque.
Sign the deed
Take your copy
Pay taxes and fees
The property is yours!
AFTER THE DEED
Fourth step: the cadastral register
After the purchase, the deed is sent by the notary to the cadastral register for the change of ownership to be registered. It will be ready to be picked up after about 2 weeks. We can pick this up for you, should you be not in Sicily.
fifth step: Sign the electricity, gas (if any) and water contract
We can assist you with this.
THINGS TO BE DONE AS AN OWNER
Now you are the official owner of your home in Sicily. So you will pay a tax called IUC, which is a municipal tax. You’ll be exempt from this payment if you chose to be resident in your new house and have no other houses in Italy.
THE ANNUAL TAX COSTS OF OWNERSHIP
These vary according to the size of the property and level.
Property tax about 300-1.000 €
Garbage fee about 150-300 €
We can give more detailed information for specific properties.
OPENING AN ITALIAN BANK ACCOUNT?
It is not compulsory, but advisable, if you have found a property you want to purchase, to open a bank account in the nearest town. It is an easy process and we can assist you in identifying a bank close to where your house is. The costs of a bank account are minimal about 100 euro for one year and having an Italian bank account will make it much easier to pay for utilities (electricity, gas etc).
RESIDENCY IN SICILY?
On execution of the deed, you can declare to the notary your intention to transfer your residency in your house in Sicily. This will allow you to pay reduced purchase taxes, and you will have 18 months to complete the administrative process. But this will imply that your fiscal residency is in Italy and you may have to pay to the Italian Tax system taxes on your worldwide income. We strongly advise you to consult an experienced tax lawyer to choose the option that is more convenient for you.