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PROPERTY

Property in Italy: A weekly roundup of the latest news and updates

Stay up-to-date on the latest Italian property and renovation news with The Local's weekly roundup.

Superbonus extension

You’ve probably heard of the Italian government’s superbonus scheme, an economic stimulus measure introduced amid the coronavirus crisis which promises homeowners a tax deduction of up to 110% on expenses related to property renovation.

While most people are unlikely to be able to claim the full amount, there are still potentially hundreds of thousands of euros in savings to be made via the so-called ‘ecobonus’ and ‘sismabonus’ which can be used in conjunction when making energy-efficiency upgrades and reducing seismic risk respectively.

The government has promised to extend the superbonus scheme into 2023, as a huge spike in demand means many construction companies are now unable to start new projects until at least early 2022. While this hasn’t been signed into law yet, it looks all but certain to happen.

READ ALSO: The building bonuses you could claim in Italy in 2021

The complexity of the paperwork involved in claiming these bonuses has also meant many projects are taking a long time to get off the ground – and many people have reportedly decided against using the bonuses altogether.

A quarterly report by market research firm Nomisma found that, one year on from the launch of the superbonus, there have been “obstacles in the path meaning that the number of [renovation] projects increased but not at the expected speed, and there is resignation and discouragement on the part of Italian families.”

Photo: Antonio Sessa/Unsplash

The most popular (and expensive) areas for would-be buyers in Italy

As the coronavirus crisis and the move to remote or flexible work is reportedly spurring people to move out of the cities in Italy, as in other countries, where exactly are people moving to?

Data analysis from property search website Idealista found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of property searches in the first quarter of 2021 were recorded in southern regions . mainly Campania, Puglia and Sicily.

The study only includes municipalities (towns, or city districts) with at least 2,000 inhabitants, but it showed that the most popular areas included Naples, Lecce, Taranto and Palermo – a new trend perhaps fuelled by people who’ve moved north to work and have been looking at a move back home, as well as those dreaming of a new life by the sea.

The Italian municipalities which recorded the most online property searches in Q1 2021. Source: Idealista.

But is this really going to lead to an exodus from the major cities, or a boom in house sales in the south?

There haven’t been any dramatic changes so far, with Idealista also recording that the majority of enquiries made about properties for sale continue to be in the cities of Milan, Bologna, Naples and Rome.

Meanwhile, average sale prices were highest in Venice, Milan, Florence and the Tuscan seaside town of Pietrasanta.

More one-euro homes in Sicily

No Italian property guide would be complete without a mention of the rural towns selling off neglected homes for the price of a coffee.

The latest to get on board is the Unesco heritage-listed town of Caltagirone in Sicily.

This one is slightly unusual as, far from being a crumbling village in the middle of nowhere, Caltagirone is a lively town with some 40,000 inhabitants and a beautiful historic centre.

The town’s councilor for heritage said they wanted to stimulate repopulation and regeneration in the historic area as “many inhabitants preferred to abandon their homes in the historic centre to build in the new expansion areas.”

READ ALSO: Bargain homes and fewer crowds – but Italy’s deep south is not for everyone.

As in many Italian towns, older properties in the historic centre are often passed down through generations. Often, those who inherit them have no interest in spending money on the (usually sizeable) renovation project needed, and are keen to sell the houses quickly due to the tax and expenses incurred.

You can find more information about the properties for sale in Caltagirone here, and see our detailed list of towns offering one-euro homes here.

(Please note that we at The Local won’t be able to help you buy one of these houses – but we’d love to hear about it if you make an offer!)

Photo: Philippe LopezAFP

Did you know?

The taxes and additional costs involved when purchasing property in Italy are notoriously hefty, with some experts advising buyers that they’ll need to budget as much as ten percent of the property price just to cover these upfront charges. And of course, that’s in addition to any deposit.

The biggest extra chunk you’ll pay is likely to be VAT, which comes in at around 2% of the cadastral value of the house. That’s if you live in Italy full time – it’s 9% if you don’t.

One bit of recent good news is that, if you’re under the age of 36, you may be able to benefit from a new tax rebate scheme which refunds this cost over five years and also cuts various other taxes and charges when purchasing a property.

Find more details here: Under 36? Here’s how Italy plans to help you buy a house

Property tip of the week

In some countries, a mortgage broker is seen as an unnecessary extra. But in Italy they might be key to a smooth (and surprisingly fast) purchase.

In personal news, I finally succeeded in purchasing a property of my own this month after several failed attempts over the last couple of years (which long-time readers may have read about). This time, the process was far easier and faster than I expected, taking just over two months from start to finish. 

I couldn’t believe how quickly things moved – after all, the average time it takes to complete a property purchase in Italy is around four months – and it can easily take much longer.

Deciding to pay for the services of a mortgage broker made all the difference in my case. The fee was eye-watering, but it turned out to be money well spent, both because the mortgage has much better terms than anything I could’ve got independently, and because the broker smoothed over various bureaucratic difficulties and sped things up significantly.

If you’ve used a mortgage broker in Italy, what was your experience? I’m hoping to write about this in more detail, so please do email me and share your thoughts.

Useful links

Here are a couple of useful articles and resources we’ve put together at The Local recently for anyone looking at buying a home and relocating to Italy:

What do you think?

Please get in touch at [email protected] to let us know if you’ve found this new weekly feature useful and share any suggestions you have for property-related news from Italy.

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MONEY

How to get a discount on the cost of solar panels for your Italian property

Solar panels are an understandably popular choice in Italy, and if you're thinking of installing them on your own home there's funding available to help lower the cost. Here's what you need to know.

How to get a discount on the cost of solar panels for your Italian property

As utility bills rise, more home and business owners in Italy are looking at installing solar panels as a possible way to reduce costs in the long term.

Solar panels are already hugely popular in Italy, with the nation ranking top worldwide for solar-powered electricity consumption.

READ ALSO: Who can claim a discount on energy bills in Italy?

And no wonder: it’s a solid bet in a country where there is sunshine in abundance. But what about the costs of installation?

The good news is that there’s financial help available from Italy’s national government aimed at encouraging uptake of solar energy, as well as other incentives from regional authorities in many parts of the country.

It’s in the government’s interest to incentivise solar power, as Italy has vowed to transition to greener energy with its National Integrated Plan for Energy and Climate (Piano Nazionale Integrato per l’Energia e il Clima 2030 or PNIEC).

So how could this benefit you? Here’s a look at what you can claim at both a national and a regional level.

Regional funding for installing solar panels

As well as the national government subsidies available for covering the cost of solar panel installation, some regions have introduced their own bonuses or discount schemes.

The sunny southern region of Puglia and the wealthy northern region of Lombardy have seen the highest number of residential photovoltaic systems installed, according to market research.

it’s not surprising, then, that these two regions’ governments are offering cash incentives to help cover the cost of installing solar panels.

Depending on the type of system you opt for, you could expect to pay between around €5,000 and €13,000 for installation, design, labour and paperwork.

To contribute to this initial outlay, the local authority in Puglia has created a pot to help homeowners on lower incomes move towards renewable energy.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about installing solar panels on your home in Italy

Newly introduced in 2022, the so-called Reddito energetico (energy income) offers households with an annual income below €20,000 a bonus of up to €8,500 for installing photovoltaic, solar thermal or micro-wind systems in their homes.

The bonus is intended for residents who have citizenship of an EU country or, if you are a citizen of a non-EU country, you can still claim the bonus if you have been resident for at least one year in a municipality in Puglia.

The €20,000 annual income refers to a household’s ISEE – an indicator of household wealth calculated based on earnings and other factors.

A worker fixes solar panels. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

For this particular scheme, if you claim this bonus from the authorities in Puglia, it precludes you from also claiming funds at national level concurrently – such as through the popular superbonus 110 home renovation fund (see below for more on this).

Although there are other government bonuses, such as the renovation bonus (bonus ristrutturazione) that offers a much higher maximum total expenditure of €96,000, it can only be claimed as a 50 percent tax deduction spread over 10 years in your tax return.

For lower income families in Puglia, this may not be as cost effective as the grant from the regional authorities, which may equate to more money towards the cost and supply of solar panels.

For more information and to apply for Puglia’s renewable energy bonus, see here.

Lombardy is also stumping up funds to continue the solar power momentum experienced in the region.

While the coffers for private properties are currently closed, the region has made funds available for those with small and medium-sized businesses – again, in a move designed to lessen the impact of rising energy costs.

Business owners can claim a 30 percent grant for the installation of solar panels. There are more funds available to cover the cost of consultancy during the process too.

For more details on applying for this energy bonus in Lombardy, see here.

Other regions have also taken the initiative with encouraging more homes and businesses to change to solar-powered energy.

The region of Tuscany is offering an incentive on installing solar panels to residents in the form of tax deductions spread out over several years.

Works permitted include installing winter and summer air conditioning and hot water systems using renewable sources. This covers heat pumps, solar panels or high-efficiency biomass boilers.

For further details and information on how to apply, see here.

Each region may have its own solar panel bonus, either in the form of grants or tax deductions, available to private residents and/or businesses.

Check your regional government’s website to find out what may be currently on offer.

Solar panels are an increasingly popular option for those renovating homes in Italy. Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

National subsidies for installing solar panels

If your region isn’t offering any cash incentive to install solar panels on your property, there are government funds available, which cover all 20 regions.

The authorities introduced and extended a package of building bonuses in order to galvanise the construction industry following the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

While there is no single, separate package of incentives for installing solar panels in 2022, you can take advantage of other government bonuses that include the cost of solar panel installation and supply.

As noted, you could use the renovation bonus (bonus ristrutturazione), which amounts to a 50 percent tax deduction spread over 10 years in your tax return – or through the superbonus 110, a scheme that promises homeowners a tax deduction of up to 110% on expenses related to property renovation and making energy efficiency measures.

READ ALSO:

The property must make at least a double jump in energy class or reach the highest efficiency rating when accessing these bonuses.

There’s a substantial amount of funds on offer to install your solar panels.

Using the renovation bonus, there is a maximum total expenditure of €96,000 (per single housing, including condominiums). Remember this amounts to a 50 percent tax deduction, so the maximum saving you would make is €48,000.

The renovation bonus has been extended until 2024 and, where solar panel installation is concerned, you can claim for the costs of labour, design, surveys and inspections, as well as VAT and stamp duty.

You must tell Italy’s energy and technology authority, ENEA, that you’ve done the works within 90 days in order to access the state aid for solar panel installation.

If you choose to use the superbonus route to claim funds for your solar panels, however, you can spread out the tax deduction costs over five years. Alternatively, you can apply for it as a discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura) or through the transfer of credit (cessione del credito).

The limit when using this bonus is €48,000, which can now be accessed for a while longer as the government extended the deadline for single family homes.

See HERE for details on how to claim it.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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