Hi there. We are interested in buying a

10/02/2018 - 08:34

Hi there. We are interested in buying a property in the Lucca area, but have been told it may be subject to a 'change of use' tax, as it used to be a farmhouse. It would have to be changed in law to a residence. Can anyone give me any idea how much this might cost. The agent seemed to suggest 8-10k! Can this be right? It's a bit of a blow if it is...



An agricultural property, according to Italian law, can be sold, as an agricultural, ONLY AND EXCLUSIVELY to a farmer. No Italian notary would ever sign a purchase contract for the transfer of an agricultural property to a non-farmer - and even if he was so crazy as to do so - For the purposes of Italian law, the deed of sale would be void, ie the same value as a clinex!The transformation from Agricolo to Urbano, is compulsory and at the exclusive charge of the farmer who sells it to a non-farmer - Moreover, the farmer must also prove that he has reported the change to the tax office before selling.It is amazing that a real estate agent does not know these rules ... http://www.lifeinitaly.it/Inglese/Purchasing_Real_Estate_in_Italy.htm

Aha, this is fascinating to hear. Thank you Ugo. The property is listed as Rustico - farmhouse with land, although the plot is not particularly large. A small olive grove.There is a 'metado'/chestnut roaster structure, but the house itself is three bedrooms, kitchen, domestic type arrangement. There is no bathroom or toilet as present, but there is a well.If it is being listed as a 'rustico', is it likely that they were hoping to avoid paying the change of use tax by selling to a farmer, do you think? If so, they will have to find the money if they want to sell to us. Interesting. I will ask the agent when we visit next week what the situation is. No doubt this will all add time to the shedule if we do go ahead. It's all a bit daunting to be honest.

If it is still registered as a fabbricato rurale then this is the case, but I assume that the house has been reregistered as an ente urbano, but not as a house seeing it has no bathroom.  Or it may down to the translation of farmhouse which is more a casa colonica than a fabbricato rurale.     It may be an unita colabente - a trick owners use to not pay IMU, or something else such as a barn.  Obviously if it needs restoration the destination of the building cannot be changed before the sale, as it requires building concessions etc - so you would pay tax not on the rateable value but on the price paid - which is usually a fair bit more.  If it is still a fabbricato rurale then it would have to be changed to an ente urbano before the sale at the expense of the seller who would also pay the fines for not having done it in 2012.  

here, Modi, was precisely what I wanted to underline and above all to ascertain, inviting Meakin, to ask for the land registry certificate. Unfortunately, Italy is still full of foxes, which, with their cunning, they make dishonest, even those who act correctly

Steve , checking this on line , can be make via Agenzia delle Entrate- on line - with "carta dei servizi"  - having the owners Codice Fiscale and Document - or via  Visurnet , at about 12 euro - but having almost the full name of the owner and  Codice Fiscale

Many thanks to you all for your suggestions. For a novice with no Italian it is very confusing, but I will hopefully be able to find out more on 12th, when we meet the agent with an English speaking renovation company. The company is providing a full run down of costs for major work, such as roof repair, connecting drains, water and electricity. It is a house, not an agricultural building, but has been unoccupied for decades. I have no idea of the classification however, just that this is an issue and possible expense.As I understand it, we will need planning permission to do any renovation work, even to mend things that are already there. I think the renovation company would have to deal with this for us. They offer geometra and lawyer services too and look very professional.However, this is a huge project for us and we need to know costs before we put in an offer. It is frustrating not to understand what those costs might be and if we or the seller is responsible for paying them. I think we will just have to pay somebody to do the research for us and come up with a figure. 

Whatever you are quoted for the renovations you should add at least 35% if not more and the time to complete is no more accurate than the weather forecast so consider doubling the estimate and be thankful if it comes in under.  You are undertaking a huge project and it is wise to have an Italian who you trust, representing you and it should not be the agent.   There are plenty of stories about 'home in italy' dreams turning into nightmares.  Here is one just published and thank goodness the one couple had the resources to keep the renovation going.  Buona Fortuna!https://johnhendersontravel.com/2018/10/23/under-the-lazio-sun-finding-a-home-in-the-italian-countryside-isnt-easy-but-here-are-some-tips-how/

Normally whatever they tell you the cost will be you need to add on at minimum 20%, but I would not be surprised if someone here said 50%. Find out what these people have done before and ask them for whom. Best to then go and find out if they were any good. Do NOT commit to anything until you are as sure as you can be exactly what is being done  for your money.

Thank you for the tip off! It sounds like an absolute minefield, from start to finish! Everyone keeps telling me we are mad.There is a local builder who has an English speaking employee who we know is good, by word of mouth. We will be sure to get more than one quote and add 20% minimum. I think as long as we can get the roof done we should be ok for a bit. We can camp in the garden and do DIY whenever we get out there. That way we can do bigger jobs as the money becomes available. We won't be spending very many weeks there per year, until my husband retires, so we will have plenty of time to get things done.But the major work of getting the place watertight cannot wait and we need to address it immediately. The roof will be the decider, along with this land use tax. It is very much in the balance whether we proceed. But it is a beauty...

Hi Meakin,There is A LOT of information for your to take in here!  I've read through all of the responses and you've got some great detail on how the Italian building and renovations system works.  A couple of really basic things I wanted to add:>Italy does have many complicated and costly laws.  But take a deep breath and realize you will not be able to get it all right from the start. It's a learning curve!>Get someone on your side from the start.  Whether it's the company you're already working with, or someone else, find an on-the-ground experienced partner who can walk you through the process.>Here's a link to the simple guide we send to new or prospective homeowners:  http://luccapropertyservices.com/#free-guide (just scroll up a bit when you get to the page :-)   It's a kind of social and reflective approach to getting your feet wet in the world of Italian property.  Some of it applies to you, some a bit less.  Best of luck to you!    

MEAKIN !!Warning ! , we are in Italy, not in the depths of black Africa ..angel.., do-it-yourself, in building, is not allowed, if you do not have the necessary licenses, insurance and all documents in order. The clerk of the municipality arrives, he puts the seals on the whole building site, and a criminal complaint for an illegal activity, nobody takes it away from you.

In reply to by Ugo

You are not allowed to plaster or paint or fit a sink in your own homes in Italy without permission??!!! That’s insane!!! I’m beginning to think this is a very bad idea all round...

before painting, it is necessary to erect walls, divide the rooms with masonry structures, install electrical, plumbing, heating, solar panels, drains of bainche waters (waste water from the kitchen and roofs) and black (waste water from the baths) ..This can not be done independently - You wrote that the house has no bathrooms - to take a bath you need 2 technicians - specialized - in possession of the necessary licenses and work permits, the plumber and the electrician. for example, the electrician must make an installation according to the law, and certify that it is compliant - if it does not issue the certificate, the municipality will not give habitability, and without habitability, no public utility (water, electricity, gas, telephone) can be connected to your home.

We are not planning to do specialised work like electrics or even plumbing, although I plumbed in my own bathroom here in the UK, with the help of my clever Father. It was not hard.Here anyone can do anything they want to their own property, except gas installation I think. So I just find it strange that the local council has so much control over you. DIY is almost a religion here! If you want to build an extension you need planning permission, but that is all. People are free to decorate or rewire or do their own plumbing as much as they want. In the the property there are already walls up, already wiring. It would just need updating. I propose only to paint walls, repair plaster, repair brickwork and install a kitchen, clean tiles, mend window frames, replace shutters. Nothing complex or dangerous! I think I will take advice from the professional in Italy from here on. Thanks for your help Ugo. 

the reason for so much control, it's quite simple. Let's put the case that a guest in your home suffers damage from a plant, not built by a professional, responsible for the work done. No insurance will pay, for that damage - for example, the floor of the shower has been mounted unevenly, the guest falls and breaks an arm - He will ask you the damage (hospitalization, economic damage, moral damages), you call your insurance, this asks for the certificates .. OIH .. there are not ... the guest (maybe an AIRBnB guest ..) could ask several hundred eurosFor this existe the Tecnician ( Direttore dei lavori ) .. Preventing , some times , appera expensive .. but , at the ring time , you realize that it is agreed ..enlightened

Roof, a scaffolding is necessary from the ground to the roof, on the four sides of the house, dismantle everything that exists, build a reinforced concrete connection curb, new beams, new roofing, tar mantle, to avoid water infiltration, insulation mantle, reinforced concrete covering, new tiles - around 500 euros per square meter.For each . bath , about 5000-euro - Electrical sistem , incuding the installation of  liees in walls , iunction boxes , cables , fuits ( = sokets and switches ) about 50-euros for light point ..Doors and windows , about 303 euro for sqm (of the Doos and Windows ) .. and so on ... example ..>  https://www.salcimeurope.com   

re the change of use:  Its just occurred to me that the house may be registered as a A/6 - which used to be common and means a house without services.  A notary can no longer sell an A/6 - it must be reclassified before sale - but this is not at your costs - the seller pays for this.    Ask the agent for the visura - its a public document -- and why, if it is a house, does it need change of use, 

Modicasa, this is a very good question. On the estate agent’s website I think it is described as ‘rustico’ ‘with land’. The plot is fairly large, but mostly just grass lawn. There is a small olive grove. There is also the metado, and I wondered if it had been used as a productive farm in years gone by. But it has not been occupied for many decades. The impression we were given was that the change would have to be made to make it ‘urbano’. And the cost would be 8-10k. As others have pointed out, there are problems with this, but the info came via a third party who was phoning on our behalf, so I am not 100% sure of the exact conversation.Our renovator is going to look at the building for us and will answer questions when we meet him. He can ask the agent for the visura then. I just hope the agent has useful information with him. Communication is tricky, but hopefully our renovator will help us from now on. I will ask for testimonials for him too.We are not hugely wealthy people and would not require high quality bathroom and kitchen fittings. We live very simply. Maybe this project is best left to the millionaires. I am much less hopeful, having read the answers here, that we will be able to achieve our dream. 

Meaking ,restoring an agricultural building, whether it has or does not have bathrooms, has basic costs, I define structural, which can not be avoided, wanting to divide the restoration into two parts, from an economic point of view, I can say that 60% of costs will be structural and 40%, aesthetic and livability - To have a functional bathroom, before choosing, "signed" or not furnitures , it must be realized - according to rules established by law, and others established by the experience of those who realize it - a hydraulic, thermal and electrical network , that has above all the durability requirements. The pipes can be of different materials, but the quality will be less clear, the greater the possibility that they will spoil - When the tubing of a bathroom fails, it is necessary to remove part of the floor and, to restore it, is not like replacing the battery of the car . With this I do not want to suggest to turn into the bathroom, the latrine that is above the letamaia ( manure sturage) , but rather that the savings must be well thought out.According my experience , the restoration of an ex-agricoltural use building , in Tuscany,  hardly will have , a cost  less than 1500-euro for sqm  

In reply to by Ugo

Thank you Ugo. At the moment we do not even have the measurements of the property, but when we do I will look at the likely costs you describe.I think it will be too expensive for us, even though the property is a low price and we budgeted for the roof. If It was in the UK we could save costs easily, but it sounds like in Italy it is not so easy to do things yourself to save money and that there is much paperwork to be completed before every action.I do understand that every country has different rules and that they can be more expensive in some countries than others. And wealthy people will spend more, so it is beneficial to have wealthy people come to live there. We are looking for a simple life, and to spread the costs of the renovation over a number of years as money becomes available. It does not sound like we will be able to do this, as I understand from your answers. We must have a bathroom immediately, to have it 'habitable', so must connect electricity immediately, water installed immediately, have heating installed immediately. We will not be able to afford this as well as the roof. We have tickets booked and a hotel and a viewing. Now I think it will be a waste of time, but at least we can be in beautiful Italy for dinner and see the countryside while we are there. I feel very sad now, but at least we tried.  

We understood it is hard to get an Italian mortgage and better to pay in cash if possible - so we are using savings and maybe borrowing from parents. Our bank will not lend money to buy houses abroad or we would indeed be financing through them. We could re-mortgage our house here, but it is not considered a very wise thing to do. My husband will look again at financing I am sure as he has an excellent job and good income for this country and repaying a mortgage would not be difficult. But it needs figures first and this was the purpose of the trip. We need to know how much we will need to ask for. I was hoping just to pay for the house and the roof, and then complete the rest of the work later.Until we have figures, we cannot budget or approach a finance company, but from what I learn here it may well be out of our reach for us. Up front costs would be too high. If we spread the cost we could do it, but not all at once. This is as I understand from my husband. 

Perhaps your visit does not have to be a waste of time, view some other houses, if only to compare. Lucca and the surrounding area is lovely and there many houses at a reasonable price there, especially compared to further south in Tuscany. But it may be worth looking elsewhere in Italy? Our first choice was the very same area as you, but a little further north near Fivizzano. We ended up here in Abruzzo because houses were very much cheaper then. Anything involving a lot of work i.e. new roof, kitchen and bathroom will cost a lot anywhere in Italy. It is however a beautiful place to live.

Hello Meakin,I have read some of the blog above – but not all, as it was giving me nightmares! I am sure that now you have been frightened off from buying anything in Italy.However I would like to point out that  I have many clients (I am an architect) who want to carry out some building works themselves, and Italy is no different from the UK or the rest of Europe in that the there are very strict Health and Safety regulations in force, which for the record, are a European initiative and not an Italian one. The idea is to reduce needless deaths and injury in Europe’s building sites, and the regulations are not perfect but I think their intention and logic is pretty clear. Anyway the Regulations apply only for when the building sites are active, it is possible to carry something like plastering or similar – if you are capable, in the context of doing DIY in your own home, when the Building Site is no longer active.   Also good idea to get independent advice pre- purchase on the nature and cost of building works and resolution of bureaucratic issues such as the “Rustico” category etc.     

Ciao Meakin,My wife and I had considered purchasing a home in Italy, and spent Jan, Feb & March in Lucca and are now heading to Minturno trying to decide exactly where we want to settle.  However, our decision to purchase and renovate quickly went by the wayside, and we will now rent.  We decided against buying for two main reasons.  First, like you we are not wealthy and do not have unlimited funds to cover unforeseen costs/cost over-runs and secondly the resell market in Italy is extremely slow.  It is not unusual for homes to sit on the market for years and our concern was that tying up a lot of money into a house in an area we may decide after time we do not like was foolish if not risky.  Now, with that said, if you are entirely sure that the area you choose is the right one and you have the stomach for the unexpected costs and delays, then, by all means, go for it...and good luck. 

We bought stupidly near Lucca not knowing any of the above.  We thought we could renovate ourselves as we had done so before many times where we live.  We had the survey undertaken, it looked ok but after buying we were informed the electricity needed renewing, the boiler needed replacing, the roof that lasted 50 years on the garage, collapsed.  Same agent with same husband as geomatra. Then the main roof four years later allowed water in and needed replacing with a concrete layer.  The previous owners goods, they promised to remove when we purchased, were all left. And it was a house full.  The agents comments were ‘they didn’t take them’.  No redress.The IMUs for Lucca practically doubled from purchase to first year of ownership.  Because we could not live in the property we didn’t have to pay for rubbish tax.  But one year an agent didn’t put the papers in and we’ve been hit for thousands as it doubled.  Luckily the agent we have now is excellent and the house beautiful but we can’t afford the running costs in retirement as we pay electricity, water, rubbish and IMU when we are not there.The South of Italy - wonderful.  We purchased at a low cost have wonderful friends there and a gentleman who oversees everything.  Running costs, very low, IMUs low.   The dream is there, but you have to understand what you are buying into.  We didn’t - but this site is excellent, so wish I’d found it before buying the first house.  Good luck.

Babs,for not to pay IMU and other taxes, it is necessary to ask the Elective Residence, you will not have any problem with the Italian taxes, here is to you, a link with all the explanations.http://www.lifeinitaly.it/Inglese/italyresidenceguide.htm

Thanks Ugo.  Unfortunately we won’t be able to make it our first home as we have so much family where we live and work, we couldn’t leave  for 6 months of the year, even in retirement.  I don’t theink there is any help for renovation work for the money we sent from our British bank account.   We live in the British Isles and have a European passport but no access to healthcare in Europe through the healthcard as in the UK.  On both properties we pay IMUs, Water and electricity when we are not there and in one house, the electricity and water have been switched off for two years (didn’t travel due to illness) but we still have to pay over €50 every other month.  We will probably sell the large property in the North as the IMUs are €1780 per year plus rubbish tax, agents fees, electricity, water, it just goes on.  But it is wonderful and we thought we would have more free time but we are working to keep the house.  Last year alone we paid out nearly €28,000 on the roof and painting.  If this was the end of the work it would be ok but somehow I have my doubts.  The pots empty and we are working hard for retirement.  Where do you live?  I don’t want to put Meakin off as the South is much cheaper as are other areas, it saves on hotels, you can go when you want and family can enjoy it too.  Lots of positives, most of all the people are lovely.

Hi Babs ,however, I have dozens of customers, in your same conditions, who have taken the Residenza Elettiva ,  without transferring their activitieshttp://www.lifeinitaly.it/Testimonial/index.phpPerhaps even taking advantage of these Italian standards, in the restoration costs - Sometimes, it is necessary to ask if themselves, what good is it to write in the communities, giving good suggestions, if then the readers, they close their eyes to the evidence demonstrated, for the sole purpose of proving to themselves, that they are right, when they hit with their hammer, over the own fingers. crying

I’ve done more than hit myself with a hammer over my fingers Ugo, the mental health has gone with it.  I have nothing to prove myself right about, I know nothing of this procedure either.  Six years of one problem after another.  If I can get a Residenza Elettiva then I will gladly do so.  I hope this helps Meakin too.Just checked - no Isle of Man or British Isles on the Site.  Paradise Island to the Italian Government, sat in the Irish Sea between Ireland and the UK.  How will it save on a property and IMU’s and how do I inform the Commune (they only speak Italian).  Sorry, you can see it’s difficult for me, I just don’t understand the proceedures.

Babs ,just follow the directions on the page at the first link, or maybe ask the personal experiences of some of my clients / testimonials, whose email address is obtained by clicking on their names written in blue, as clearly indicated at the top of the page , de second Link - I have no intention of offending, ONLY my would like to see that the time I dedicate to this community, has positive results, for those who attend it. angel

You in no way offended me Ugo, you’re very informative and helpful.  I drive myself crackers with all of this.  Only on here did I find out what a Visura was, how to calculate IMUs.  It’s such a different world.  I will follow the link and thank you.

Thank you so much everyone for your kind and helpful responses. We did go out to view the property and it was fascinating. We had a renovation expert with us who talked us through all that would need doing. Much of it we could not have known from the photos. In short, there were more major things that needed doing than we could possibly afford. For example, the whole garden would need fencing due to severe wild boar damage; the garden would need draining as it was waterlogged; one entire floor needed to be removed; the ground floor needed to be removed and replaced with a floating floor; new sewage system, rewiring, plumbing...The list just got longer and longer. We got the builder's costs in and it would have cost three times as much as the property itself. Minus taxes and fees. It is just unaffordable. And not worth the stress, when there are other properties in better shape. All in, I imagine it would cost around £250k on top of the price (admittedly low) of the property itself. We were also put off by the beaurocracy involved in the process, with the thought of paying for all the planning permissions, translation etc etc and not really being able to do much of the project ourselves - which was half the attraction. To be honest, we have been put off looking to buy in Italy. I don't think we will persue it. Without a strong grasp of the language and an understanding of the processes involved, we got the feeling it would be nothing but stressful, as described by Babs. It was a real eye--opener to see the issues home owners face over there. Not being able to work on a property ourselves is a big culture shock.  All together, the problems far outweighed the benefit for us, and we will probably look at long term renting in future if we want to spend extended periods there. It's a shame, but it has not dulled our love of Italy or the wonderful people. We had a great few days exploring and visited Lucca twice. Thanks again for all your helpful advice.

Well done Meakin in getting good independent advice.  In Italy there are so many old charming properties to renovate, they can be very seductive,  BUT the costs for renovating old buildings is unfortunately pretty high  -  I am afraid that practically all the Estate Agents are all geared up to make the SALE of a property, and they know that the renovating costs can be a factor that jeopardizes the sale, so they tend to be very vague on building cost advice. Good move to get independent advice to enable you to see the whole picture.   

You’re so wise Meakin, I wonder if it’s the same person you took who sorted everything out for us and helped build a new terrace on the garage roof?  He was excellent and had inexpensive tradesmen.  I don’t know where we’d be now without his help.sometimes the dream is better than reality, to rent and gain knowledge is probably the best path.  Good luck.

the Greek philosopher, he maintained, that men (understood as humanity), are easily frightened not by things, events, which they encounter in life, but by analysis (clearly based on their own life experiences), which they themselves make of these things .Reported, to our speech, all the impeces related to the restoration of a home, in Italy, do not fall on the person who buys the house, but on the people who carry out the restoration materially and bureaucratically (surveyor, architect, construction company).On the buyer, only the economic commitments fall, which of course can also be diluted over time, using a mortgage, because, however, the investment remains to be enjoyed for a long time, the worries are a bad passenger. smiley