Castle in Torno with open views over Lake Como. Listed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | Palazzo Estate
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Beyond financial incentives like the Italian Investor Visa, foreign buyers are drawn to Italian real estate for its unique charm. The “Italian style,” encompassing breathtaking landscapes, architectural beauty, rich history, and vibrant local culture, plays a significant role in attracting international investors.

To unveil the nuances of the Italian real estate market for foreign buyers, JamesEdition talked to Marina Rizzotto Yakovleva – Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | Palazzo Estate catering to a diverse foreign clientele.

These insights will answer any questions you may have about the current property trends and how the housing market in Italy is experiencing great shifts thanks to the expat’s influence.

What are the most recent shifts shaping buyer demographics in the Italian real estate market?

In 2023, there has been a notable surge in American clients, emphasizing the dynamic nature of the market.

Our agency caters well to digital nomads. These clients span diverse sectors, from the digital space to property investors. These discerning individuals are investing in picturesque properties in increasingly secluded locations.

Notably, this clientele possesses the flexibility to work from any location, requiring only an optimal Internet connection, hence the importance of tailoring our services to digital nomads.

We often get asked about whether or not non-EU-citizens can buy property in Italy. It’s most certainly possible and the housing market in Italy is thriving off of foreign investment. However, the United States, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom remain major foreign nations buyers in Italy’s luxury segment.

How straightforward is it for Americans to buy property in Italy?

Approximately 16,000 Americans currently reside in Italy, captivated by the allure of the Italian lifestyle and a desire to immerse themselves in its unique ambiance.

The reasons behind Americans buying properties in Italy are multifaceted, ranging from the country’s pleasant climate, safety, and quality healthcare, making it an attractive destination for those considering retirement abroad.

Tuscany and Lake Como, renowned for their picturesque landscapes, have garnered significant interest from American buyers, many of whom are residents of major Italian cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan.

In Lake Como, preferences often gravitate toward properties in Cernobbio, Moltrasio, Blevio, and Laglio, including areas associated with public figures like George Clooney.

Moreover, a growing number of Americans are establishing roots in Apulia and on the Amalfi Coast, seeking homes for retirement, lifestyle changes, and vacation periods. A substantial portion of these buyers plans to spend extended periods in Italy, with some envisioning a permanent move.

Additionally, Americans frequently explore property acquisition as an investment avenue, with ventures like bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, or restaurants in these regions.

The country’s esteemed universities also attract American buyers, particularly those with children studying in Italy, providing both accommodation and a future investment prospect.

Lastly, Americans with Italian heritage often find a profound connection, prompting property purchases to maintain ties with their ancestral roots. In direct response to the question, “Can Americans Buy Property in Italy?”— absolutely, with our agency offering comprehensive support to facilitate their real estate endeavors and address any related concerns.

Are there specific procedures or requirements that US buyers should be mindful of when purchasing property in Italy?

US buyers should be aware of nuanced taxation during property purchases in Italy. Seeking the assistance of experienced professionals is strongly recommended, as taxes can vary significantly, ranging from 2% of the cadastral value to 22% of the sale value based on factors like property type and location.

Do expats from Canada, Australia, and the EU exhibit specific geographic preferences, and how about non-European real estate buyers?

Expats from Canada, Australia, and the EU, alongside non-European buyers, share a common inclination toward properties with lake, sea, or mountain views. Italy’s diverse expat community from these countries greatly values the cultural richness, landscapes, and quality of life. Geographic preferences often hinge on individual budgets, with waterfront properties being particularly desirable among foreigners where the exchange rate is in their favour.

What regulations govern non-resident property buyers, and what should they keep in mind?

Non-resident property buyers in Italy need to navigate a complex tax structure based on factors like buyer type, property type, and the purpose of acquisition. Understanding the various taxes and costs associated with purchasing and owning a property is crucial for successful house hunting in the Italian market. This is often where foreign investors seek the assistance of real estate agencies, as we carry the expertise required for purchasing and acquiring a home in Italy.

Is financing accessible to foreign property buyers in Italy, and what options exist for securing a mortgage or financial assistance?

Italian banks do offer mortgages to foreign buyers, covering up to 50% of the property’s purchase price. However, foreign buyers should consider currency exchange rates and their impact on both the cost of the property and ongoing expenses.

Does Italy offer a residency by investment program, and if so, what are the options for real estate investment?

Italy’s “Investor Visa” or “Golden Visa” program allows high-net-worth individuals to obtain residency by making significant contributions to the Italian economy, including investments in real estate. Options include investing €250,000 in an innovative start-up, €500,000 in a limited company, €2,000,000 in government bonds, or making a €1,000,000 philanthropic donation. Maintaining the investment for five years allows applicants to apply for permanent residency in Italy.

What are the most popular regions for foreign buyers?

Particularly in renowned tourist destinations such as Lake Como and Tuscany, the real estate market in specific regions of Italy presents promising investment opportunities.

Properties in these areas hold the potential to appreciate, while rental income from tourists serves as a lucrative revenue stream.

What are the greatest concerns expressed by foreign buyers looking to buy in Italy?

Foreign buyers often grapple with the intricacies of Italian real estate laws, particularly concerning contracts and property rights. The language barrier becomes a notable hurdle for those not proficient in Italian.

Italy’s specific tax laws related to property ownership, encompassing purchase taxes, annual property taxes, and taxes on rental income, pose additional challenges.

Consideration of the interaction with the tax laws of the buyer’s home country adds to the complexity.

Cultural disparities in real estate transactions, such as negotiation practices and the pace of transactions, further contribute to the intricacies.

Older properties, prevalent in Italy, may necessitate renovation or maintenance, presenting challenges in assessing their condition and estimating potential costs, especially from a foreign standpoint.

What property types would you recommend for foreign buyers acquiring a second home? 

With a second home, the emphasis extends beyond realizing a dream to ensuring a profitable investment, with regional considerations playing a pivotal role.

In regions like Tuscany or Apulia, foreign buyers are drawn to old, traditional properties with renovation potential. Customization to specific tastes and needs becomes a focal point, with renovation projects offering the prospect of enhancing property value over time.

This choice, however, demands additional time, effort, potentially higher costs, and a readiness to navigate construction and renovation processes.

Contrastingly, in the vibrant hub of Milan, foreign buyers are inclined toward newly built properties. These residences, known for their convenience and contemporary living experience, adhere to modern standards and specifications, boasting high energy efficiency and the latest amenities and architectural designs.

Broadly speaking, many foreign buyers, particularly those seeking convenience and a hassle-free experience, gravitate towards turnkey properties.

These move-in-ready homes, fully equipped and furnished, eliminate the need for buyers to manage renovations or construction, making them attractive for immediate use.

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