Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buying property in Sicily

Hello again!

It's been a long, long time since my last post, but due to personal circumstances, I'm not longer living in Sicily.

As I had people asking me about this, and I'm interested and sort of involved in real estate, I wanted to post something about buying property in Sicily.

So you've decided that you like the sunny weather, the laid-back atmosphere, and you want to live in a place where all you have to worry about is gaining weight form eating too much gelato? Well, now that the important stuff is sorted out, lets move on to other matters.

Some points to consider when planning to invest in Sicily:

- Sicily has the same property laws as the rest of Italy.

- The procedure: when you find a house you like, you should make an inspection of the property with an expert (geometra or architect). Then you can make an offer, if your offer is accepted, you and the seller sign a preliminary sales contract, and you make a downpayment to secure the property. At this point if the seller backs down, he has to pay you double the deposit, if you back down you lose the deposit unless there's a legal reason to justify that. Then you go to a sort of escrow period the length of which you agree with the owner. That ends with the final contract when both parts sign in front of a notary (official registar). He or she will make sure that the property doesn't have any outstanding debts, inheritance issues, etc.

- If you are planning to buy land to build a house, you should consider that any plot classed as rustic or agricultural land (terreno agricolo) has restricted building and will cost much less than urban plots. That's because you are only allowed to build 1 house that can take up to 1% of the total area.

- If you are a EU citizen or a citizen of a country with reciprocal agreements, you can receive your pension in Italy and will also have the right to free healthcare.

- Sicily is undergoing some improvements to it's infrastructure. A new airport has been built at Comiso, near Ragusa, and there's a new freeway connecting Catania with South-Eastern Sicily. However bear in mind that the airport was due to open in 2008, and 3 years later, still nothing has happened. Allegedly it is ready, but I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever open. Hopefully it will... some day.

- Before you ask, yes mafia still exists in Sicily, however they have their own bigger scheme of affairs, they won't go after you and your new house, and you will only learn about them in the news every now and then. Generally speaking Sicily is a very safe and relaxing place to live in and there's rarely any violent crime. You just have to be more careful about petty crime in bigger cities like Palermo and Catania, as you would in any bigger city around the world.