You do not need rocket science to buy property in Italy, but you do need to understand how the money “works”. In other words, can non-residents open bank accounts and secure mortgages in Italy? The answer is “yes”. Are there special banking requirements and/or restrictions that foreigners need to consider? Again, “yes”. Are there resources available to help navigate an unfamiliar bureaucracy? Once more, the answer is “yes”.
Foreigners can open a “conto estero“, or non-resident account, at most Italian banks. Necessary documentation includes: passport, residence card or proof of employment, a recent utility bill (proof of residence), and a tax code (“codice fiscale”). Tourists typically do not open bank accounts in Italy, instead relying on cash, traveler”s cheques, etc., but non-residents with second homes in Italy will usually find it more convenient and less expensive to do their banking with an Italian financial institution.
Note, however, that deposits must be made either in imported euros or foreign currency. On the “plus” side, you will not be subject to withholding tax on interest earned with a non-resident account, as opposed to a resident account. Additionally, non-resident accounts earn interest at a greater rate than do resident accounts.
Bank rates, services and fees vary considerably; shop around before opening any accounts. You can open accounts via correspondence, if necessary, but the general recommendation is to do so in-person, which will help you to establish a personal working relationship with your bank-of-choice, which can be beneficial if you will need a mortgage loan in order to purchase property.
Once you have completed preliminary purchase steps and you are ready to apply for a mortgage there are a number of items to keep in mind. Know beforehand that the application process is often time-consuming and heavy on paper-work; diligence and patience will be rewarded. On a positive note, the considerable red-tape also serves to protect both buyer and seller.