It’s common, and highly advisable, for any Expat or immigrant who is considering buying a property in Italy to visit the location in person and explore the surrounding area so you can get a real feeling of the place.
Of course, with the expansion of the internet it’s tempting to try to buy without visiting but what you’ll quickly discover is that Italian real estate websites do not always accurately portray the properties in their portfolios; so it’s hard to be sure if it’s right for you.
Therefore, whenever possible, you should always visit Italy to view some properties before you start the process of purchasing anything or making concrete plans.
Things To Do Before & During The Property Viewing Trip.
It’s great fun to visit Italy, view potential properties and imagine what your new life in the country would be like; however, before you head off you should try to make sure you have all your ducks in a row so you can make the most efficient use of your time overseas.
Are You Certain About The Region?
Italy is a hugely diverse nation that has everything from snowy mountain peaks in the North to lovely sandy beaches in the South; plus everything in between! There are magnificent ancient cities, such as Florence, Milan and Rome, as well as charming rural idylls in the countryside where you can experience a more laid back, traditional lifestyle.
Deciding on which region you want to live in is the first thing you should do on your journey to buy a property in Italy. Before you set off on your property viewing trip, do some research into the different regions and start to narrow down a list of a few from the total of 20 regions that make up Italy.
Do you want to live in a city? Or would you rather live in the countryside, but within easy reach of a city? One of the most popular regions for Expats is Tuscany, due the perfect balance between stunning countryside vistas and the easy access to major cities such as Florence and Pisa.
The massive diversity of regions in Italy means that whatever you are looking for you can find the perfect place to buy a property and make your home away from home! Just be sure to do your research in advance and try to find out from people who already live there what it’s really like. For example, you can join online Expat groups on social media so you can chat with Expats who are already in the country and find out more about daily life in the different regions.
Hire A Real Estate Agent.
This is vital to do when you’re planning to purchase a property in Italy. You might be thinking that you can save a few dollars by going it alone but you’ll quickly discover it’s next to impossible on your own!
Before you begin your trip, communicate extensively with your real estate agent so they know exactly what you’re looking for and where. They can then plan an itinerary of properties to visit during your stay; this will make your trip run much more smoothly and remove the stress of frantically trying to arrange things yourself when you’re in Italy.
When you do hire a real estate agent you should try to find a company that can provide you with bilingual services – unless, of course, you speak fluent Italian. Bilingual real estate companies can provide you with English translations of documents and forms so you can understand what you’re signing, although you’ll still have to sign them on the Italian versions to comply with local rules.
Remember too, that when you purchase a house in Italy there are several layers of bureaucracy that you’ll have to deal with and if you have the support and help of an experienced real estate agent they can make sure the purchase goes through quickly, without any hitches or unexpected roadblocks in the process.
Once you have decided which region, or regions, you would like to live in and have made contact with some local estate agents, either one company or several, you can begin to make more concrete preparations for your trip.
Check All The Properties Online First.
Despite the limitations of most real estate websites in Italy, many are really starting to improve their services, with many providing virtual tours and increasing amounts of other relevant details.
Therefore, you should take your time to study the property online and if it seems to tick all the main boxes then you can put it on your list of provisional properties. Try to gather as much information about the property and the area it’s in before you head off on your trip.
Ask The Estate Agent If The Property Is Still Available.
As frustrating as it is, many properties in Italy remain on real estate websites long after they’ve been sold! So before you set your heart on a potential property, always check with the real estate agent to make sure it’s still on the market.
In other cases, particularly in rural areas, people advertise their properties without any intention of selling them, just to find out how much they are worth in the current market!
So, where possible, try to get the real estate agent to ask the seller and confirm that the property is actually for sale. As strange as this sounds to most Westerners, this is one of the bizarre quirks of the Italian real estate market which you’ll have to work around.
Confirm The Price.
Many sellers advertise their properties for well above the market value; so ask your estate agent to confirm that the price is reasonable. You should also find out if there’s any room for negotiation on the offer price; something which is more common in Italy than most of the rest of Europe.
In rural areas, the listed price is often outdated or only refers to a particular part of the total property. This means you need to check other properties in the area to get an idea of whether the price is up to date and also establish exactly what is being offered in the sale. For example, does the price include lots of land, outbuildings or access roads? All of this is essential to know before you can make an educated decision about whether the property has the potential you want it to.
What Is The Fee For The Viewing Trip?
Your estate agent in Italy will charge you a fee for arranging the viewings and helping you with other logistical matters related to your tour. Before you sign any documents or agree to confirm the trip you should always ask for a written itinerary and a breakdown of the costs – if possible, in English. You should also confirm how many properties you will be shown on the trip as part of the arrangement.
If the fee seems reasonable to you then you can make the necessary agreements, however, if it’s not you can ask some other real estate companies in the area to try to find a lower quote.
Some real estate companies in Italy specialize in working with Expats and these usually have preset fees and touring options for you to choose from on top of which they offer bilingual services.
Finalize The Necessary Documentation.
Before you head off for your property viewing tour the estate agent will want you to confirm the visit and sign a number of documents. The types of documents that you will need to sign will vary, depending on the package you have agreed to and the company you’re working with.
Make sure you understand what you’re signing; for example, real estate agents may want you to sign a ‘no compete’ agreement, which means that you cannot view a property with them and then go behind their back and try to deal directly with the seller’s agent to avoid paying their fees!
Be Diligent While Viewing The Properties.
Once you have arrived in Italy and are being shown around a property it’s a good idea to take notes as you go. It can feel like a bit of a whirlwind while you’re overseas and viewing a whole series of properties which can make it hard to remember the details of each one!
The easiest way to ensure that you don’t miss any details is to write down a list of questions in advance and then print off enough copies so you have one for each property you’re viewing. Then, as you view the house you can simply go through your list of questions and note down the answers for you to compare later.
Maintain A Critical Eye.
It’s easy to see a property for the first time and simply fall in love! However, you’re going to need to maintain a critical eye during the viewings and be cognizant of the pros and cons of each one you see!
You can help yourself do this by taking notes, as well as asking your estate agent as many questions about the property as you can. While you look around the property you can jot down pros and cons under headings, trying to write down at least 10 for each category. Remember that the more information you have the easier it will be to make a decision later on once the excitement of the initial viewings has died down.
Always Take Photos And Videos!
A picture tells a thousand words, and so even though it’s a good idea to take notes as you visit properties you should also take as many pictures and videos as you can. These don’t need to be technically or artistically perfect and so your smartphone will do the job just fine.
Take a few shots of each room in the property as well as a few photos of the exterior, including any gardens or lots attached to the property. If you’re considering rural properties don’t forget to take a few photos of the views because you might be living with them for a while and they can make a huge difference to your daily quality of life!
Don’t Plan Property Viewings On Sundays.
Italian culture is still very dominated by the Catholic faith and consequently Sundays are considered to be days of rest, with most shops and businesses closing for the day; and this certainly includes estate agents.
This means that you won’t be able to view properties on a Sunday, even in the cities. However, this is no bad thing because you can use the day to walk around the area on foot and get a better feel for the location around the properties you are considering to buy.
Discovering Your Dream Home In Italy.
It’s almost essential for you to visit the region where you plan to buy a house before you begin to make a purchase. There’s only so much you can learn with online searches and so you will need to get out on the ground and take a tour with a local real estate agent.
This is the only way that you can get an accurate idea of the area and get a feeling for whether you’d like to live in the property itself. It will also let you see the property for yourself and identify any issues which might have been glossed over on the estate agent’s website!
Also, don’t forget that your property viewing trip will be a fun experience and if you do it in a thorough and detailed way you can ensure that you end up buying the perfect property in the right location!