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EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

If you're weighing up whether to buy a property in Italy, you'll also need to factor in substantial fees and taxes. Here are some of the hidden costs you might face.

EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy
Casa dolce casa? Make sure you've budgeted enough before making your final offer. Photo by Alejandro Olalde Miranda on Unsplash

Italy’s infamous cheap property deals and building ‘bonuses’ attract international attention, but for many people, purchasing a home here remains an expensive process thanks to the fees and charges involved.

READ ALSO: The red flags to watch out for when buying an old house in Italy

As anyone who has gone through a home purchase in Italy will know, it isn’t as simple as snapping up a bargain – regardless of whether it’s your primary residence or a second home.

Aside from the cost of any renovations, property experts warn that the ‘hidden’ or additional costs of buying a home in Italy usually add up to around ten percent of the purchase price.

So before you make your final offer, here’s an overview of the fees and charges you may need to budget for.


The number and variety of taxes associated with buying a home in Italy is considerable.

They may change according to the type of property and the condition you buy it in. Here’s a look at the most common charges that apply to almost all types of property in Italy.

– Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is between two and nine percent of the cadastral value of the home, with a minimum threshold of €1000 if the percentages work out as less. That’s useful to know for any cheap properties you may find, such as the one euro homes.

It’s worth noting that the cadastral value might be much lower than the market value of the property, as this gets recalculated when the property is sold – the property may have been with the previous owner for decades when the house price was much lower at its last sale.

So you may end up paying more stamp duty than you first thought when the cadastral value is updated.

If you are resident in Italy full time – which means you are in Italy more than six months of the year – and you buy from a private seller, stamp duty will be 2 percent.

OPINION: Why Italians aren’t snatching up their country’s one-euro homes

If you buy from a private seller, but you intend to live there fewer than six months of the year, stamp duty is nine percent of the cadastral value.

On the other hand, if you buy from a registered company in Italy, the tax will amount to a fixed rate of €200. This is true for both homes used as a primary residence or a second home.

You’ll need to do the maths on fees and taxes when buying in Italy. Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

There are ways to reduce the stamp duty if you buy the property as a second home. You have 18 months after the purchase to register as a resident in Italy.

If you intend to become a resident, you will only be charged two percent stamp duty at this stage. Should you not become resident within 18 months, then the government will require the outstanding seven percent.

If the house isn’t finished, such as one bought off plot or is a development project, there is no stamp duty.


VAT, known as ‘IVA’ in Italian, is due on the purchase of property in Italy. You shouldn’t have to pay it if you’re buying from a private seller, however if you’re buying from a company, the amount you pay depends on the property.

READ ALSO: The ultimate guide to getting residency in Italy

It’s four percent if it’s your primary residence, 10 percent if it’s your second home and 22 percent if it’s categorised as a ‘luxury’ property.

– Land registry tax

Known as ‘imposta catastale‘ in Italian, this is a fixed rate of €50 for buying a property from a private seller. It rises to €200 if you buy from a registered company.

This tax is to update the owner of the property in the government’s cadastral list.

Be prepared for the taxes on property purchases in Italy. Photo by Daniela Turcanu on Unsplash

– Mortgage tax

Another fixed rate tax, ‘imposta ipotecaria‘ in Italian, will cost €50 if you buy from a private seller and again, €200 if you buy from a registered company.

– Marca da bollo

This is a mandatory tax in the form of stamps added to contracts or invoices over the amount of €77.47. You can buy them from your corner shop or tabbachi, or post office, and attach them to the invoice.

You’ll pay this per contract over that amount. As a guideline, expect to pay €16 on any invoice for a contract that is over that amount and includes VAT (IVA), and €2 if there’s no VAT.

Notary costs

You’ll need to pay a €16 ‘bollo’ on notary documents. But that’s just the start, of course.

You’ll need a notary to validate the contract and check that the property is legally registered. This isn’t a tax – it’s a cost that is part of buying a house in Italy.

There is no fixed fee for this and it depends on the town, the type of property you buy and the purpose you intend to use it for, such as residential or commercial.

The absolute baseline would be €1,000 or one percent of the sale value, but fees vary from company to company and are known to run into the thousands even on cheap homes bought for major renovation. Notary fees are subject to IVA, which when it’s a sales tax, is 22 percent.

My Italian Home: ‘We bought the cheapest house in Piedmont and live mortgage free’

The amount of fees you need to pay depends on the property. Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Agency fees

If you’re buying a house through a real estate agent, they take a percentage, usually around three percent of the purchase price from both the seller and the owner.

A general range you can expect to pay is between one and five percent of the property cost. Again, this varies from town to town and firm to firm.

Legal fees

You may choose to use a lawyer to help you navigate the process and explain the steps in English. They will charge you based on a percentage of the value of what you’re paying for the property, which again, can differ considerably. These fees are also subject to VAT.

Geometra or civil engineer’s fees

If you’re looking to renovate a property or if it’s an old building, you’re strongly advised to speak to a geometra, or civil engineer, who will inspect the property and will recommend the work that needs doing.

They can also suggest a building company to carry out these works and provide you with a quote for all the restorations needed.

Without one, it would be very hard to go through all the processes required to get building approval and understand the local rules and regulations.

As well as considering restoration costs, those buying an old house in Italy should check for hidden problems that could prove expensive down the line. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Sometimes, you will have to use one as they may need to legally certify certain parts of the work.

The cost for these services depends on the professional you work with and the degree of the works required. It could be a few thousand euros or could be much higher if the project is extensive.

Tied in with this are other fees such as licences and registration fees – simply submitting your planning document to the local comune (town hall) can be substantial, costing upwards of €10,000.

Architect or engineering costs

For larger scale projects, you may also need to hire an architect, whose fees will also vary depending, again, on the area and company.

While they would design the spaces and analyse the functionality of the property, an engineer would deal with the strength and stability of the structure.


You may also need the involvement of a termotecnico, or a heating engineer, who chooses the materials to be used and the type of system, according to the geographical area of your home.

All in all, these experts will cost a hefty wedge and may change your renovation budget when you get final quotes.

Energy connection

Sometimes, if you purchase an old property, you may need to pay for disconnection and connection of gas and energy supply.

This will change depending on your location, as always, but don’t be surprised if it takes the best part of €1000 to perform what you might think is a simple cut to an old supply.

Plus, you’ll then need to account for the cost of connecting up to new utilities when your property is ready.


You’ll need to pay a deposit, or a down payment, to the seller of the property which acts as a guarantee of sale. If the buyer pulls out, the seller can keep this deposit. On the other hand, if the seller pulls out, the buyer can demand double the amount of the deposit back.

Mortgage broker fees

You may want to enlist the help of a mortgage broker when it comes to getting a mortgage on the property you buy. This professional has existing relationships with lenders, meaning that as well as negotiating a better deal than you could get on your own, they should help smooth the application process and speed things up.

They’ll also set up a good relationship with your local bank for any future loans or home purchases. They may also speak English to clearly explain what you need to do.

Again, what you’ll pay will change depending on where you are and each professional’s rates, but you can earmark around one percent of the mortgage value.


As the saying goes, time is money. And you will need to allow for a whole lot of time to buy a house in Italy. Unlike the market you may be used to you in your home country, where buying and selling moves fast, be prepared for a slow process in Italy.

It can take months for just the sale to go through and renovation projects may go on for years, depending on the works and the current state of the property market.

As always, seek professional advice before you buy and check what incentives or exemptions you may be eligible for.

Please note that this list is not comprehensive, but covers most scenarios that buyers may find themselves in. See more in our articles about property in Italy on The Local.

Member comments

  1. My advice is to never assume that things work the same way in Italy as in your home country. When buying a home you can encounter some legal issues and situations that you could never have imagined possible. And Italians won’t think to point these out to you because to them it’s just business as usual. Anyway, it’s much better to avoid these land minds then try to fix them afterward.

  2. The section on “stamp duty” is not very clear here. First of all the term “stamp duty” meaning property purchase tax, is I believe, totally British and could be confusing to anyone not British. It can be an awful lot of money – when I bought my property it was easily the largest payment I made in taxes and fees. It is based on the “rendita catastale” (“cadastral value”), a fixed value that, at least when I way buying my property several years ago, was not published for any of the properties I looked at, which seems odd as it is so important. The sum you pay is derived from a rather obscure formula using the cadastral value, and is 2% if you are resident and it is your primary residence, 9% otherwise. It means as a non-resident you could pay as much as 9% of the purchase price which can be an awful lot of money. I would advise anyone who is buying as a non-resident to look really closely at this. The cadastral values tend to be much less in older properties than new ones.

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For members


How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

Buying a cheap home to renovate in Italy sounds like the dream, but it can quickly turn nightmarish amid restrictions, red tape, and bickering relatives. Silvia Marchetti explains some of the most unexpected pitfalls and how to avoid them.

How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

With so many Italian towns offloading cheap old properties for sale, lots of people have been tempted by the chance to buy a fixer-upper in a sunny, rural area and live in the perfect idyll. And most are oblivious at first of what risks the purchase might entail. 

The older the properties are, the more potential traps along the way.

READ ALSO: The Italian towns launching alternatives to one-euro homes

There have been several villages in Italy eager to sell €1 and cheap homes that have had to give up on their plans once hidden issues came to light.

Back in 2014, the towns of Carrega Ligure, in Piedmont, and Lecce nei Marsi, in Abruzzo, tried hard to sell their old properties off at a bargain price but just couldn’t get past Italy’s labyrinthine red tape, hellish property restrictions, and scores of bickering relatives.

Both towns’ mayors found themselves chasing after the many heirs of unknown property owners who had emigrated in the 1800s. All existing relatives, who technically owned small parcels of the same house (whether they knew it or not), had to all agree on the sale.

Under Italian law, over time and generations a property ‘pulverizes’ into many little shares depending on how many heirs are involved (if one single heir is not named).

You can end up in a situation where you agree with two owners that you’ll buy their old house, and then one day another five knock at your door saying they never gave their consent, nullifying your purchase. So it’s always best to check beforehand the local land registry to see exactly who, and how many, are the owners, and where they are. 


In Carrega Ligure and Lecce nei Marsi, families had long ago migrated across the world and the many heirs to some properties were impossible to track down.

But there were also other obstacles.

“We wanted to start the renovation project by selling dilapidated one euro houses, and then move on to cheap ones, but the tax office would not agree on the price – saying that the old properties had a greater value, that they weren’t classified as abandoned buildings but as perfectly livable houses in good shape”, says Lecce nei Marsi mayor Augusto Barile. 

This meant buyers would have ended up spending tons of money in property sale taxes.

“Even if these were just small houses, potential property taxes start at €700, and could have been much higher,” he explains.

“This would have been a nightmare for any buyer finding out about this at a later stage, after the purchase”.

Barile says the town hall had not made a prior agreement with the tax office to reclassify and ‘downgrade’ the value of the old buildings, which also required an update of the land registry. 

READ ALSO: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

Council officials in the village of Carrega Ligure faced a wall of red tape when they tried to sell off abandoned properties. Credit: Comune di Carrega Ligure

Several potential buyers I spoke to back then said that when they found out about the tax office’s involvement by word of mouth (mostly thanks to village gossip at the bar while sipping an espresso), they fled immediately without even taking a look at the houses. 

The best advice in this case is to pay a visit to the local tax bureau ahead of any formal purchase deal and make sure that the old, dilapidated house you want to buy is actually ‘accatastata’ (registered) as such, or you might end up paying the same property sale taxes as you would on a new home. Hiring a tax lawyer or legal expert could be of huge help.

In Carrega Ligure, where old shepherds’ and farmers’ homes are scattered across 11 districts connecting various valleys, a few abandoned homes located near pristine woods came with a nice patch of land – which turned out to be another huge problem.

Old estates often cannot be disposed of due to ‘vincoli’ – limitations – either of environmental or historic nature, that do not allow the property to be sold, or simply due to territorial boundaries that have changed over time, particularly if the original families haven’t lived there for a long time.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s cheap homes frenzy is changing rural villages

In Carrega Ligure it turned out that “a few dwellings located in the most ancient district couldn’t be sold because of hydrogeological risks. State law forbade rebuilding them from scratch, as floods and mudslides had hit the area in the past”, says Carrega Ligure mayor Luca Silvestri.

Meanwhile, other properties were located within or close to the protected mountain park area where the village districts spread, and where there are strict rules against building to preserve the surroundings.

Another issue was that a few old homes came with a patch of land which was quite distant, on the opposite side of the hill, says Silvestri, making it inconvenient for buyers looking for a house with a back garden.

In this case, checking territorial maps, and speaking to competent bodies such as park authorities if there are ‘green restrictions’ in place, can spare future nuisances.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.