Lake Garda Property
Soak up the warm sunny rays on the private terrace of your luxury villa before sailing off to one of the many charming lakeside restaurants to enjoy a dinner of freshly caught fish marinated in light and delicate local olive oil accompanied by a chilled glass Nosiola - the regional white wine; take a step back in time to explore the medieval villages clustered between ancient walls and towers and visit the Veronese and Venetian castles – monuments to memorable battles and great leaders of days gone by; enjoy a guided tour around the many vineyards ringing the blue waters of the lake’s lower basin to sample the local speciality – Bardolino – a blend of corvina, rondinella, molinara and sangiovese grapes; enjoy a relaxing body massage or a cleansing mud bath at one of Sirmione’s Roman thermal spas or challenge yourself to a windsurfing or sailing lesson on Lake Garda’s breezy, blue waters. Located in northern Italy mid way between Milan and Venice and just 15km away from Verona airport, Lake Garda property offers investors the perfect opportunity to own part of this beautiful and charming part of Italy, which with its relaxed and unhurried lifestyle captures the very spirit of the Italian ‘dolce vita’.
Dominated by the high peaks of Monte Baldo in the north and infused with a balmy Mediterranean climate in the south, Lake Garda is the largest lake in northern Italy. Combining spectacular lake views with striking hillside scenery and romantic Venetian walled towns and villages, Lake Garda has inspired many a poet, author and artist and today is a popular holiday destination. Demand for Lake Garda property continues to increase with well priced properties selling quickly, particularly those with a lakeside view.
Visitors to the area are spoilt for choice as there are a number of charming small towns and villages dotted around the lake each with its own personality and particular history and all connected by a myriad of ferries and boats criss-crossing the lake throughout the day and night.
Widely regarded as the capital of Lake Garda, Desenzano combines a quaint Italian charm with the amenities of a modern city. Wander through the rich old quarter stopping at one of the lively cafés for an espresso before visiting the ruins of the Roman villa - discovered in 1921 it is one of the most well preserved examples of the great villas of the late Roman era – to marvel at the thousands of artefacts on display from necklaces to oil lamps as well as the detailed murals on the fine mosaic floors. Finish your visit with dinner at the tiny arcaded Venetian harbour - one of the most picturesque on the entire lake.
The glorious peninsula of Sirmione stretches out from the southern shore of Lake Garda. This tiny town has been a destination spa since Roman times and comes complete with a 13th century castle and Roman ruins. Enjoy some pampering at one of the Sirmione Spas which channel the natural springs into their facilities for a variety of treatments including massages, mud baths and inhalations. Then head off to the Piazza Carducci to sit and enjoy a glass of the local wine before taking a panoramic walk along the shore to the tip of the peninsula to visit the remains of the Roman palace and the villa - "Grotte di Catullo" – one of the best examples of a private building of aristocratic character in the whole of northern Italy.
Lazise is Lake Garda’s walled town and has a true medieval heart with its 14th century castle rising from the water's edge, restaurants tucked close beneath the crenellated walls and red Venetian houses. Take a short history tour and visit the San Zeno and San Nicolo churches; the former dates back to the late 13th century and is dedicated to the patron saint of water and fishing whilst the latter was built in the 12th century to the patron saint of schools and seaman. Finish off the day with dinner at one of the many charming restaurants and enjoy spectacular lakeside views whilst sampling the region’s olive oil and wine made from the olive groves and vineyards surrounding the town.
Bardolino is on the eastern shore of Lake Garda and is famous for its wine making. Elegant and potently pretty, relaxed but classy, there is a 19th-century feel to the esplanade with its Edwardian villas and decorative wrought-iron gates. Visit the Museo del Vino (Museum of Wine) to learn how wine is made in the area before heading off for a tour of one of the many different wine cellars – Cantina Caorsa is said to be one of the best and grows grapes which account for two thirds of the wine made in Bardolino.
Italian real estate continues to be a safe investment; a report published last year by Moody’s, ranked Italy ninth in the property market, showing that the average year on year pre-crisis house price increase was a reasonable 5.9%. Even during the financial crisis, Italian property prices grew on average by 0.9% - a far cry from the dramatic property price falls seen elsewhere. The official forecast for 2013 is that Lake Garda property prices will continue to be steady with lakeside property prices remaining competitive.
Buying a second home in Italy is becoming increasingly popular with international investors, and Lake Garda is attracting a large number of buyers, particularly for lakeside homes. The choice and location of Lake Garda property is wide ranging from luxury villas and country houses to modern apartments.
Apartments or villas in small residential developments have communal swimming pools and gardens with easy access to the lake; larger villas will have private swimming pools and spacious, beautifully landscaped gardens and at the top end of the scale are the palatial villas with frontage onto the lake complete with private moorings and in some cases a private beach. Good quality historic villas with period architecture are still highly sought after, although as these older properties tend to require extensive renovation to bring them up to modern standards, interest in well-furnished modern properties has increased.
Blessed with a temperate climate and diverse landscape, Lake Garda is the jewel in northern Italy but has long been overshadowed by its neighbour Lake Como. Now is the time to invest in Lake Garda property whilst prices are still competitive and those wise enough to do so will enjoy their taste of the ‘dolce vita’.
Guide to the Italian Buying Process
1. Making the Offer to Purchase (Offerta)
Once you have found the property you wish to purchase you will start the process by making a formal offer to the vendor, the estate agent will act on your behalf and put forward the offer, a deposit will be made available, generally around (10,000 - 20,000 EUR). Once the vendor has accepted the offer it will be formalised in writing to the vendor in both English and Italian. If this is accepted the deposit (Caparra Confirmatoria) will be paid to the vendor. This will form a legally binding contract. Neither party may withdraw at this point, the sale can be forced by either party or a claim for damages can be made. If the purchaser withdraws their deposit will be lost, if the vendor withdraws the purchaser can claim twice the deposit in compensation.
2. Signing the Preliminary Contract (Compromesso or Contratto preliminare)
The next step will take place between 1 and 3 months after the offer has been accepted, this is a formal agreement between the vendor and purchaser to sell and buy the property, this agreement is the Preliminary Contract and will contain the conditions and terms of the sale. It is important at this stage that you have a full understanding of all the details contained in the contract. We would strongly recommend that you appoint a Notary who is fluent in English. This document will include the purchase price, a detailed description of the property including completion date and will cover any obligations placed upon the buyer and the vendor. All information relating to the property including any planning permissions for the property and the cadastral details (a public record, survey, or map of the value, extent, and ownership of land as a basis of taxation). Once the Preliminary Contract (Contratto preliminare) has been signed a further deposit (Caparra Confirmatoria) will be paid, this will generally be 10% - 20% of the purchase price. There will also be an estate agents Commission Fee (Provvigione) which will need to be paid at this point.
3. Signing the Final Deed of Sale (Rogito or Atto Notarile)
The purchaser must have a bank account in order to make the purchase on completion. The signing of the final deed of sale which will authorise the transfer of the property must be overseen by a Notary (Notaio). The buyer will select and hire the Notary, but they are members of an independent body of public/professionals who will draft the purchase deed, they will oversee the passing of the title legally from the vendor to the purchaser. The Notary will also verify the legality of the documentation and registration with the Conservatoria dei Registri Immobiliari and the Local Land Register.
4. Formalities to be observed after Completion
Foreign buyers should obtain a certified copy of the Purchase Deed (Rogito), which the Notary will have lodged with the authorities. Generally this will be available to collect around 2 – 3 weeks after completion. The Notary will also give you a form to complete for the the local authority (Questura) who will have been given formal notice of the purchase. Your Notary will help you to complete this form. You will need to contact the utilities companies to set up new contracts (power, water, telephone, gas etc.). If the property is a flat, the condominium manager (Amministratore del condominio) should be informed of change of ownership of the property.
Various taxes must be paid on purchases. Registration tax / stamp duty (Imposta di Registro) is calculated on the government’s valuation of the property (Valore catastale). This will vary according to whether the property is being purchased as a holiday home, or as your primary residence. For a holiday home stamp duty will be 10% of the valuation. If you are intending to use the property as your primary residence and apply for residency (Prima casa), providing this is done within 18 months of the property transfer then stamp duty will be reduced to 3% for an existing property and 4% for a new build. This will be paid to the Notary on completion of the purchase.
Land registration, mortgage and cadastral taxes also need to be paid to the Notary on completion. These are one-off payments and are around €168 each.
Once the property has been purchased further taxes must be paid. There is a local council tax ICI/IMU property tax (Imposta Comunale sugli Immobili) of 0.4% to 0.9% of the property’s cadastral value. The rate for this is calculated annually by the council and paid bi-annually in June and December. This rate will be reduced if the property is the primary residence (Prima Casa).
If you are not resident in Italy you will have to declare any income gained from activities in Italy to the Italian Tax authorities. This income will also have to be declared in your country of residence, you will need a double taxation agreement to mitigate against paying twice. This declaration will apply to any income you might obtain from letting a property in Italy. Some expenses incurred on the property may be off-set against the income you derive from letting out the property. This can include management expenses, local taxes, repairs etc.
There is one tax which applies only to holiday homes, there will be a 20% Capital Gain on the difference between the buying price and the selling price if the property is sold prior to 5 years ownership.
IMPORTANT - Disclaimer :
All information provided is believed to be current and provided free of charge. No liability can be accepted for the reliability of the information and statements made as this is obtained from 3rd parties. We always recommend you take legal advice from a fully qualified Lawyer or Notary before buying a property overseas.
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