Operating guidelines

The real estate in Italy

In Italy 75.2% of families live in their own home. According to a study conducted in 2016, the average surface area of a house is 117 m2 and its average value is about euro 162 thousand (1,385 euros/m2). In general, homes owned by individuals have a total value, including their appurtenances, of 5,526 billion euros, while the total value of housing assets exceeds 6,000 billion euros.

How are the properties used?

Almost 60% of the 57 million real estate properties owned by individuals in Italy are used as main residence or property. According to the data indicated by taxpayers in their tax returns, in fact, about 34.2% of the properties, equal to 19.5 million units, are main homes, to which is added a further 23.3% relating to appurtenances (cellars, attics, garages or parking spaces), about 13.3 million units.

Assuming that each main house corresponds to a family nucleus, 75.2% of families live in their own homes.

Leased properties are approximately 6 million (10%), while 6.2 million (11%) are those left available. Finally, approximately 1.2 million, slightly more than 2% of the total, are the properties granted free use to family members or other co-owners.

As far as the distribution by territorial areas is concerned, in the South 53.5% of the total number of natural persons' homes are used as main dwellings, while in the North and the Centre the share is higher, 56.8% and 58.5% respectively.

How much is the real estate stock in Italy worth?

In 2016 the value of the housing stock totalled 6,004.4 billion, slightly down from 2015 (6,096.9 billion). Of this, about 92%, or 5,526 billion, refers to homes and related appurtenances owned by individuals. Regardless of who the owner is, just under 50% of the national residential value is concentrated in the North, while the remaining 50% is divided between the Centre area and the South and Islands.

The highest residential real estate assets are in Lombardy (1,006.2 billion) and Lazio (761.8 billion).

How much is a house worth on average?

In 2016, a house in Italy is worth on average 162 thousand euros, with a unit value of 1,385 €/m2, down by 1.8% compared to 2015. Decreases of more than 3% can be observed in Lazio, Liguria and Marche, in Tuscany the values lose 2.9% while for Veneto and Abruzzo the decrease is 2.5%. Below 2% was the decrease in the remaining regions. The only exceptions were Lombardy, where the value of homes remained stable, and Trentino-Alto Adige, the only region to report an increase in average value, up 0.8%. The average surface area of a house in Italy, calculated as the ratio between the total surface area and the number of total housing units, is approximately 117 m2. The Regions with larger average dwellings are Umbria, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto where the average surface area is more than 130 m2. The average smaller dwellings, under 100 m2, are found in Valle d'Aosta and Liguria.

As far as Rome is concerned, the total value of housing is around 460 billion. The average surface area of a house located in the capital is 103 m2, with an average value of about 323 thousand euros (3,150 €/m2), exceeding 740 thousand euros in the most valuable central areas. Approximately 71% of the residential stock is used as the main dwelling, 14% of the dwellings are rented, and 2.5% are loaned out to family members.

On the other hand, the percentage of properties leased in Milan and Naples exceeds 19%, while the percentage of houses used as main homes is lower (66.1% and 58.9% respectively). As far as Milan is concerned, moreover, the total value of the homes estimated for 2016 is about 207.4 billion euros, with an average surface area per home of 88 m2 and an average value of 261 thousand euros (2,960 €/m2). Finally, the total value of the homes in Naples is about 104.5 billion euros. The average surface area of a house is 102 m2 and the average value is 239 thousand euros (2,353 €/m2).

The identikit of the owner

In 2016, of the 40.9 million who filed their tax return, more than 25.8 million (63.1% of total taxpayers) were owners of real estate or real estate quotas. Employees and pensioners make up 82.5% of home owners (and related appurtenances): more than half of owners reside in the North (50.7%), 23.1% in the Centre and 26.2% in the South and the Islands. Women who own real estate in Italy are approximately 800 thousand fewer than men, but up compared to 2014. The value of their homes is higher, although their taxable income is significantly lower than that of men. On the other hand, there is an increase in the number of owners of homes without dependent children, accounting for 76.6% of the total. Finally, homeowners under the age of 35 account for 6% of the population, those over 65 account for 38% and those between 35 and 65 account for 56%.

…and of the lessor

Overall, in 2016, there were 4.3 million property lessors in Italy, down slightly from 2014. The average annual rent is about 10.3 thousand euros (from about 9.7 thousand euros in 2014). 42% of lessors (approximately 1.8 million) are between 51 and 70 years old; followed by lessors between 31 and 50 years old and over 70 years old (both categories are at 26%), while those under 30 years old account for 3% of the total.

Home taxation

Since 2016, the asset levy on real estate has been reduced by more than €4.5 billion, mainly due to the abolition of the Tasi on non-luxury main dwellings and other measures to ease the real estate levy.

In the 2007-2016 period, a total of 27.1 million interventions were carried out for the recovery of the building stock, for a total expenditure of approximately 115.9 billion euros and an average expenditure per intervention of 4.3 thousand euros. In particular, in tax year 2016, the buildings for which renovation work was declared were almost 1.5 million, with an average annual benefit (per building) of 465 euros.

In the 2013-2016 period, more than 195 thousand earthquake-proof interventions were carried out. The total amount of expenditure for this category of works is over 872 million euros and the average expenditure is about 4.4 thousand euros. In particular, in the years 2015-2016 the buildings for which earthquake-proofing interventions have been declared are over 33 thousand with an average annual tax benefit (per building) of 522 euros.

The transfer of real estate

In Italy, ownership rules are defined at national level by the Italian Civil Code. Property and cadastral registers are managed by the Inland Revenue, which in 2012 incorporated the pre-existing Land Registry.

Transferring a property in Italy is easier than in the rest of the European Union: for example, transferring a property from one private company to another is a relatively efficient process, requiring on average four procedures that can be completed within three weeks.

Compared to the average for EU member states, Italy requires one less procedure, as well as less time and costs. Moreover, Italian cities have reported positive results in the quality index of land administration, obtaining on average more than 25 points (out of a total of 30), two points more than the EU average and not far from the best practices recorded at a global level.

Generally, the transfer of a property occurs when the rightful owners and buyers mutually agree on the terms of the transaction and sign a deed of sale - or notarial deed - authenticated by a notary public.

First, the notary examines the documents submitted by the seller and conducts the necessary research to ascertain the seller's ownership rights to the property involved in the transaction. Then, he checks that the property is free of encumbrances and ensures that there are no outstanding taxes due to the Inland Revenue.

These preliminary checks are carried out on an online platform, which provides access to both cadastral databases and property registers.

The notary draws up the purchase and sale agreement and, once agreement is reached on the terms of sale of the property, the parties proceed to signature. The authentication of the deed of sale by the notary represents the moment in which the buyer's right of ownership of the property subject to the transaction is established.

In addition, the parties shall pay the taxes due and notarial fees herein.

The next and final phase of the process of transfer of ownership requires the notary to proceed with the electronic transmission of the transcription note to the Revenue Office. This note summarises the information contained in the deed of sale. Although the said note can only be transmitted online, the complete deed of sale can instead be either attached to the note itself and transmitted electronically, or deposited in paper form at the local branch of the Inland Revenue.

In practice, most notaries transmit the deed electronically. Upon transmission, notaries receive a digital receipt confirming receipt of the note.

At the end of the 1980s, Italy started a long-term digitisation process that over time simplified and shortened the process of transfer of ownership. The initiative included the digitisation of archives, as well as a push towards the use of electronic systems. This modernisation programme has been implemented in several stages in the various regions of the country and further improvements are, to date, still in continuous implementation.

Currently, there are several operations that can be carried out on the Inland Revenue's portal, including searches of the encumbrances and updating of plans and construction projects in cadastral databases, as well as transcripts of transfers of ownership.

In conclusion, the progressive development of numerous digital tools to support ownership transfer processes is evident.

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