Buying Property in Sicily

Buying property in Sicily can hide many pitfalls which may turn the purchase into a nightmare, find help and how-to's in this article.
Article Last Updated: 08 Oct, 2023 under Property Purchase

Due to the uniqueness of its history and climate, Italy has always been an attractive option for those people seeking to purchase a property to relocate and/to spend their holidays.

More specifically, many choose Sicily, a place of unparalleled geographical and architectural richness and where Summer last far longer than elsewhere.

This exceptional beauty comes at a cost: at first sight buying a property in Sicily seems an easy goal; Real estate investments are, in general, very affordable, with some exceptions in certain areas of the most touristic towns, like Cefalù (PA), Taormina (CT), or some of the small islands surrounding the mainland. Nevertheless, the complexity of the Italian law and bureaucracy (easily underestimated by foreign purchasers or investors) makes a purchase less simple (compared to other nations in Europe) and - more importantly - often unsafe or far more expensive than expected.

1. Background for concern while buying Property in Sicily

Here, civil, administrative and tax laws easily overlap: an issue dating back to the 19th century, which the Italian State (“born” in 1861 in its modern version, hence far younger than other States in Europe) hasn’t solved yet, especially south of Rome. So, while Sicily and other southern regions of Italy have gradually regained their touristic reputations and attractiveness internationally, legal compliance has become somehow more oppressive than the criminality for which the region was well known for in the past.

An apparently good deal may conceal legal problems: minor changes to your property may be unexpectedly forbidden or require more than challenging paperwork; some circumstances might not be apparent (i.e. easements) and may easily lead to complications with neighbours or local authorities, in many cases dragging you into the Italian judicial system, whose discouraging inefficiency and slowness will and turn your expectations into disappointment.

In short, a far higher and qualified degree of prudence in considering the pros and cons of a specific real estate purchase is required, as foreseeing potential weaknesses of a certain property purchase is critical; for both private clients and small companies.

An independent lawyer can carry-out preliminary checks regarding the presence of mortgages or legal action on the property, which may entail its loss and will also minimize the risks of ending up with diminished rights to the property, and discover the full implications of a purchase. Being supported by a property purchase expert Italian lawyer is highly advised.

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