For members


How can a non-EU citizen get a mortgage to buy property in Italy?

If you're thinking of buying a house in Italy and need a mortgage, as a non-EU national there are a few things you'll need to know before you start the process.

A vespa outside an Italian house.
The process of getting a mortgage in Italy differs depending on whether you live here or not. Photo by Daryna Filon on Unsplash

Question: I live in a non-EU country and plan to buy a home in Italy in future. Can I get an Italian mortgage if I don’t live in Italy yet?

Many readers have contacted The Local to ask how they can get a mortgage in Italy, whether that be for a second home, their new primary place of residence or a nest egg for them to enjoy in retirement.

The answer can be complex and depends on whether you’re already a resident in Italy or not, where you’re from and where you’re currently living.

With some expert advice however it is possible to navigate the system and set up your very own ‘casa dolce casa‘.

READ ALSO: Why now is the ‘best’ time to buy property in Italy

Here’s the essential information you need to know and the biggest mistakes to avoid.

Note: The processes are complex, so it’s important to get professional advice before buying.

A yellow Italian house
Photo by Tim Alex on Unsplash

If you’re not a resident in Italy

If you don’t (yet) live in Italy, the good news is you can legally get a mortgage to buy an Italian property.

If you thought it would be easier to apply after moving to Italy, not so fast.

“The biggest mistake people make is to move to Italy, get residency and then apply for a mortgage,” international financial advisor Daniel Shillito of D&G Property Advice told us.

“It seems counter-intuitive. Surely it would be easier if you were living in Italy to get an Italian mortgage? It isn’t, don’t give up your job,” he advised.

in Shillito’s experience, many people have ended up in this situation and then are unable to get a property loan once they’re living in Italy.

The reason it’s tougher is because Italian banks have no idea whether your job in Italy is stable, which can take around two years for them to deem whether it is or not, he told us.

READ ALSO: The real cost of buying a house in Italy as a foreigner

And once you’ve got residency, Italian banks will generally ask for 2-5 years’ proof of living in Italy before approving a mortgage, as those who have stayed longer amounts of time are generally more likely to stay.

If you’re a digital nomad who has moved your job with you, that’s unlikely to get far in the Italian banking system either: “Italian banks are not fast and nimble enough to determine whether your remote work is steady, so you can’t assume anything, there’s too much risk,” Shillito said.

That means, therefore, that the best route is to apply for a mortgage in the country you are living and working in now.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

How a non-EU citizen can apply for a mortgage

For those living and working in the UK, US, Canada or Australia for example, the first thing you’ll need to be prepared for is the amount of deposit you’ll need.

The maximum any Italian bank is likely to lend you is 60% of the property price if you’re not in Italy,” Shillito said.

There is also a minimum amount of mortgage they are willing to give you, starting at around €60,000 – €70,000, which works out at around a property price of about €115,000 upwards.

“People looking to buy in Italy sometimes say they’ve saved maybe £20,000 and that should be enough to get a mortgage for a cheap Italian property by the beach of say €40,000.

“It’s not, and it doesn’t work like that,” Shillito said.

Again, these percentages apply in the currency of income, so it would be 60% of the house price in sterling or dollars, depending on where you live and earn a wage.

So once you’ve got the right amount of deposit saved up and have found a property that banks are willing to lend you money for, can you compare the market and go to any bank?

An Italian country house
Photo: Valentina Locatelli on Unsplash

“You can’t walk into any bank you like and ask for a mortgage. It’s a hidden market – banks don’t want to advertise they’ve got mortgages for the world,” Shillito said.

“There are certain banks that have a certain branch where a certain person may help,” he added.

So how do you find them if they’re so concealed? Shillito’s advice is to work with a mortgage broker who knows the local market and can guide you through it.

Yes, it’s an extra cost, but it’s vastly more difficult to get the response you need without one, according to the property expert.

READ ALSO: Searching for cheap Italian property online? Here’s what you need to watch out for

“A mortgage broker will handle all the bank’s administration, know how to deal with the fifth request for paperwork, they’ll ring up the bank when the house is supposed to go through and doesn’t – a broker gets this sorted for you. They’ll tell you when to go into the bank and what to sign,” Shillito told us.

But he warned that there’s more to the process.

“When you buy in Italy and you’re a foreigner, you need to know so much more than, ‘Can I get a mortgage?’ You need to consider when you get a building inspection, when you need a notary, how to go through the three contracts that make up the purchase process. All this can take six to nine months,” he added.

Consultancy firms and lawyers can help fill in the gaps to ensure paperwork is up to scratch before signing any contracts.

EU citizens without residency in Italy

If you’re an EU citizen not living in Italy, the process is much more streamlined than for non-EU citizens.

The European Union introduced the Mortgage Credit Directive in 2014, which aims to integrate the European market for mortgage credit and protect consumers across the EU.

It means the bloc is working towards creating an EU-wide mortgage market with a high level of buyer protection, applying to “all loans made to consumers for the purpose of buying residential property”.

Not all countries in the EU have the same currency, which has previously disadvantaged some of the poorer Eastern nations in the European market.

If a consumer from the Czech Republic got a mortgage in Italy, for example, the Czech crown was weaker than the euro and so monthly mortgage repayments ended up rising due to the conversion.

As a result, Italian banks can’t lend money in a currency that’s different from the income currency.

This is true also outside the EU, so if you’re in the UK or the US, you’ll be applying for a mortgage in either sterling or dollars for instance, not euros.

What if I already have residency in Italy?

As noted above, you may need to show you’ve been living in Italy for 2-5 years in order to obtain a mortgage. They’ll also take into account your salary and how stable that wage is.

They could also ask for information of family or investments in business, as that shows a commitment to staying in Italy and repaying the mortgage, which can last from 5 to 30 years.

However, shorter mortgages are more common in Italy than in the UK, for example, which is important to remember as it may mean higher monthly repayments.

They may also ask for the following:

  • ID card or copies of your valid passports
  • The initial sale agreement
  • Income proof (consisting of your last three payslips, your last 2/3 tax certificates and a contract of employment)
  • Credit report
  • Proof of address (copy of recent utility bill)

Even if you’re already living in Italy then, it’s not a simple or fast process

What about non-EU citizens living in Europe?

If you’re an American living in Germany, for example, this is where “you can get into real problems”, Shillito told us. There isn’t a one-fits-all solution in this case and you’d have to seek professional advice based on your individual circumstances.

Daniel Shillito manages a finance company specialising in Italian mortgages and purchase processes. For further information, you can contact him by email here.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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For members


Reader question: Has Italy’s ‘superbonus 110’ been scrapped?

The Italian government has announced sweeping changes to the country's popular building superbonus scheme, but does this mean funding is no longer available at all? Here's what you need to know.

Reader question: Has Italy's 'superbonus 110' been scrapped?

Question: I’m currently renovating my Italian property and plan to use the ‘superbonus 110’ discount from the Italian government. I’ve read in a UK newspaper that Italy has just scrapped the superbonus. Is this true, and if so can I no longer claim it?

This is partially correct – you’re unlikely to be able to begin a new renovation project using the building ‘superbonus’ now, as Italy’s government has just made a major change to the scheme which makes it inaccessible to most people.

Until last week there were three ways of claiming the funding, but following a hastily-approved amendment on Thursday now there’s only one – via a tax deduction (detrazione fiscale), which is only available to those who pay higher rates of income tax (Irpef). This effectively means the superbonus is now only open to the highest-earning Italian taxpayers.

The first thing to know however is that the rule change does not apply retroactively to projects which are already underway.

EXPLAINED: How Italy has changed its building superbonus – again

So you should be able to continue if you’ve already begun your claim for the superbonus under any of the three routes previously available: trading tax credit (cessione del credito), choosing to receive a discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura), or deduction from future income tax bills (detrazione fiscale). You can read a more detailed explanation of how this works here.

However this will depend on exactly what stage you are at with your claim. A qualified geometra (surveyor) or the building firm overseeing your renovation project should be able to confirm whether and how this could change anything in your situation.

So while the superbonus hasn’t been scrapped entirely, it is now so tightly restricted that new claims will be impossible for most.

Builder carrying out renovation work

After undergoing major changes in early January, Italy’s superbonus has been re-modelled once again. Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

There have already been various other recent changes to and problems with the superbonus scheme which stopped many homeowners from either making new claims or completing existing projects in recent months.

The availability of the superbonus was limited from the end of 2022 when long-planned changes came into effect preventing many people who had previously been eligible from claiming, including second-home owners. The maximum amount of funding available was also cut from 110 percent to 90 percent at this point, effectively turning it into the ‘superbonus 90’

While these generous amounts of state funding understandably drew international media attention, in reality many homeowners in Italy using the superbonus found that the maximum amount of funding was only available in rare cases – usually to those paying the highest rates of tax – and everyone else would be more likely to get a deduction of between 50-70 percent.

Still not a deal to be sniffed at, the superbonus proved immensely popular – so popular in fact that it resulted in a building boom leading to a nationwide shortage of building companies available to carry out the work. This plus a shortage of building supplies, which was further exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, meant the cost of labour and materials soared – making many projects unviable even with the hefty rebates.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s building bonuses are delaying the renovation of cheap homes

These shortages also resulted in major delays to many projects, as did another rule change which made it harder for building companies to obtain the credit they needed to begin work. This blocked credit transfers causing delays to projects and uncertainty which, readers tell us, meant they had to cancel their plans or in some cases has not yet been resolved.

So while it was technically available, many people found themselves unable to actually use the building superbonus in 2022.

But if you already have a claim underway, the latest government rule change looks unlikely to cause any further problems on top of those already faced by homeowners.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more information on claiming Italy’s building bonuses, homeowners are advised to consult a qualified Italian building surveyor or independent financial advisor.

See more in our Italian property section.