Under the Tuscan Sun. We have all seen it. Lady has break up with her husband. She is sad and depressed. She takes a trip to Italy, a gift from friends and she sees a home she loves. She immediately goes to the house, make and offer and then is off to the bank. The bank tells her she can move into the house and the money can take care of itself. And, just like that, she lives in Italy.
I loved this movie. I still do. But, let me be the first to tell you that buying a house in Italy is not this simple. Nothing legal is. You can not just “move” to Italy. There is paper work and visas and more paper work. The buying process can take 6 weeks to a few months. It is similar to the process anywhere else where checks and balances are done to make sure there are no liens on the property and that it is free and clear, taxes in order etc. So, trust me when I say, “Do not pack your bags thinking you’re finding a house and moving in”
This is part 1 of my process and I want to be as open and honest with you on how the process has worked for me.
Now, though you can buy a home without an agent, I do not suggest it. In Italy, the buyer and seller pays the agent free which is usually a percentage or a flat rate depending on the agent. Get this amount up front. I just heard a story in a group that I am in of someone who has found their dream place for 89k euro and now that they’ve made an offer and sent deposit, agent tells them their fee is 5k euro. Might not sound like a lot but it is. I paid my agent $780 euro. I did not ask this information up front but knowing what I know now, I certainly would have. Thankfully, it worked out for me.
If you want to start looking remotely first, which I suggest, start on Facebook in groups. Look for those who come highly recommended. My agent is so highly recommended that many wait months to get on their books. I was lucky enough that one of the agents spoke French and though I am not fluent, I can piece together and say enough words that we can communicate. When all else fails, we have translator apps. Because I didn’t have to wait on the english speaking agent, within just a couple of weeks I was connected and had already scheduled a date to meet in Sicily. This is just a few weeks from now but instead of looking at houses I am going to pick up my key. (If only you knew how excited I was saying that!)
I initially started looking at all the houses that I could find online. Here is the thing about homes in Italy, and France too because I was looking in both places. Having someone on the ground who sees “For Sale” signs is super important. They do not update real estate websites the way we do here in the United States. By the time they hit the site, it is gone. Being apart of these groups lets you see homes directly from owners. You can then send the listing to your agent who can go see the home, video it, etc. This is exactly what happened with me. I’d found a home that I loved. Okay, the view that I loved. Most of the homes to be transparent, internally do not really excite me. Nothing a little rehab can’t handle though. I love old homes and have massive vision when it comes to them. I sent the listing to my agent and we quickly discovered that an investor had come in and bought up several of the properties site unseen. You see, in the countryside, homes are so reasonable. I mean, under 100k reasonable. MANY under 30k euro kind of reasonable. So, when you’re an investor it’s easy to say “I will take 10 of those”. It is actually pretty similar to what is happening here in the US but on a smaller scale. I was so sad. My agent then sent me another house, pricier but more square footage and it had a garage. Now, don’t forget these are homes in medieval villages so there were no garages. I don’t know when it came along but I now have one of the few in the village. Its a couple steps across the cobblestone walk way from my front door. It also has a room on top of the garage. It’s one of the few homes that is completely redone already. New floors, walls etc (though I am going to slowly take it back in time because why like old houses if it’s going to be completely new). I made an offer, it was accepted and we got the ball rolling.
First thing was to get the contract signed. This takes time because I have to sign it, send it back and then the seller has to sign it and send back to me. This took a little over a week with the back and forth. Then the notary starts their work, which takes a few weeks. (The notary there acts as a real estate attorney here) In the meantime, I sent over the deposit which goes directly to the owner (scary af let me tell you) and then the agent fee directly to the agent. Both wired so that they’re traceable. Then, I was sent the form giving power of attorney to the English speaking agent who is also an attorney to close the sell or to walk away. That process took about a week because…mail. But I always send via UPS on the fastest delivery possible. I then wire over the total amount of the purchase, plus notary fees.
The rest happens without me. The signing etc and when I get there in just a couple of weeks, I will have my key in hand.
To be transparent, this is really a trust thing. You are sending a lot of money to people you do not know which is why it is imperative, well it was for me, to do a ton of research on my agent. They’re well respected and I see daily where they are closing deals for their clients who tend to come from other countries, many doing virtual buys.
Now, when I go in just a couple of weeks, I do plan to buy another property if not 2 as they do that the 1 euro deal in my town. I didn’t do that. I went with whats considered a superior market home but I would love to buy another as an investment property as I do have business plans there.
Which brings me to the next subject of American’s living in Italy. Its not like some other countries where buying a home gives citizenship or residency rights so I have some work to do. I won’t share that until after its done which I am hoping will be 2022 sometime. Also as a single parent I’ve got court things to situate to get the visa so its a process. Until then, we are free and clear to spend 6 months a year there and I plan to do just that.
As mentioned, I travel in just a few weeks so I will be sharing all the details with you about where I am staying while there (because I wont have lights or furniture so I will be at a B&B) and show you around the town. I literally spent yesterday on google maps looking around my area. So much so I forgot I hadn’t actually been there lol.
Ill be back with part 2 of the process later but I hope that sharing this bit will get you excited about the possibility for yourself!