HOW BUYING IN ITALY CAN RUIN YOUR WEALTH
Arm yourself with a trustworthy estate agent. Trying to buy a home in Italy as a foreigner without an intermediary is sheer folly. International agents ( agenti internazionali) cost more, but speak English. Very few local agents speak English, but they may know the area better.
Check www.real-estateeuropean-union.com/english/ italy.html for a guide to property values, taxes and updates on the law affecting property purchases in Italy.
See a lawyer who specialises in Italian property before you find a property. There are many preliminary issues that are best dealt with before you find yourself being pressured to sign a piece of paper to commit you to the purchase. A lawyer will also be able to recommend how to finance the deal, find a trustworthy surveyor ( geometra) and possibly even help you translate the report.
Check there are no outstanding mortgages that could roll over on to you, that all the appropriate property and rubbish taxes have been paid, and that all previous renovations have been licensed. If not, you could be fined.
Check the preliminary contract ( compromesso) thoroughly for clauses that break it. Many contracts drawn up by estate agents are an amalgam of different contractual obligation, and include a dizzying array of options and clauses.
Register the compromesso in order to protect your rights against third parties, especially if there is a long gap between the first contract and completion.
Obtain a tax code ( codice fiscale). You will need it to sign the deed of sale.
Expect the process to be remotely similar to buying a house in the UK, even if there are superficial likenesses.
Forget to agree in advance with the surveyor the things that you would like surveyed. Your input is critical to the quality of the report.
Leave without a receipt for your deposit.
Pay in cash. Italian police will list you in a file of suspicious people and possibly put you under surveillance, even if you declare the huge sums you are carrying.