As I walked the steep cobblestone streets of Italy, it seemed that in many Italian cities, most residents are renting apartments rather than owning their own homes.  Perhaps I have uncovered the reason? 

I have recently had the good fortune of going on a fantastic pilgrimage through Italy. We started in Venice, then visited Padua, Sienna, Assisi, and finally, Rome.  We visited so many historic places, saw such beautiful artwork, stepped where many saints have stepped before us.  All the while I was conscience of how the natives lived there, what kind of apartments, condo, villas, and homes were available in those cities.  

I noticed real estate signs on buildings and wondered how purchasing real estate differed from our practices here in St. Louis.



After speaking with some locals, and doing some research, I found some interesting differences in the process of purchasing a home in Italy as opposed to what we are used to.

According to web-site, Global Property Guide, (,the first step to purchasing a property in Italy is to hire a real estate attorney to protect your interests.  Although the real estate transfer process is regulated in Italy, it is potentially biased against the buyer, thus hiring your own attorney.                          

 In Missouri, your REALTOR will protect your interests. All of our contracts, forms, and required processes are created by real estate attorneys and strictly monitored by the state and local REALTOR Associations, therefore, no need for your own attorney.

In Italy, once you have chosen a property and make an offer, you must pay 1% of the purchase price as a gesture of good faithThat is the same as our “earnest money”.  Unfortunately, in Italy, the offer of purchase is only binding on the buyer. The seller may still consider other offers.   What???




After the seller accepts the offer, the deal becomes binding on both parties. A contract or “compromessois drawn up by the seller, his attorney or agent. Upon signing of the compromesso, the deposit is raised to 10-20% of the sale price, depending on what has been agreed.

Closing usually takes six to eight weeks.  Yikes!  That is almost double the time it takes here in St. Louis!

In the event that you decide not to pursue the purchase, the compromesso will be forfeited or the seller may seek legal action to enforce the purchase.  On the other hand, the seller can back out but is liable to pay double the amount you have given as deposit.

The notaio (or notary public) has many responsibilities besides witnessing a signature. Even though he is chosen by the seller, he acts for both parties.  The notaio will ensure that utilities have been transferred to your name, and inform the local police of the change of ownership within 24 hours of signing the deed with anti-mafia laws.

                     Hmmmm, that’s interesting!

Transaction costs are high in Italy. Buyers bear most of the expense in the transaction.  In the St. Louis market, the seller pays most. 

Example of Italian Transaction Costs:

Registration Tax 3-7%     buyer pays

Value Added Tax 4-22%   buyer pays (paid on newly constructed properties only)

Land Registry Tax 1%        buyer pays

Notary Fee   1-2.5%           buyer pays

Legal Fees 1-2%              buyer pays

Real Estate Agent Fee     1.5-4% buyer and seller each pay

That’s a lot of Euro’s for the buyer.

Seems a bit harsh for the home buyers …. 

“but when in Rome!”









There you have it…

The Italian process for buying a home is quite different than what we know, but it seems to work for them.  There are homes that have been in the same families for thousands of years and are fabulous. I hope you are all able to experience the history and beauty that I have seen.  Until my next trip…Caio!





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