Italian property: Experts remain confident
Italian property experts have voiced confidence that the sector will weather the worldwide financial storm.
As banks collapse and others require bailouts, takeovers and nationalisations, many savers have opted to keep their assets, in the short-term at least, in cash.
However, confidence in investing in property in Italy appears to remain unshaken – and with good reason.
Guido Lodigiani from the research arm of Italian property experts Gabetti Property Solutions says: “There are delays, but in this period of collapse in the markets, Italians' faith in bricks and mortar has proven to be steadfast because bricks and mortar will always remain.
"Its sheer physical presence is always a security for families. There remain many enquiries and property viewings because a good house will always be important.”
Recent studies on the property in Italy sector have broadly found prices are holding up and where there has been a drop, it has only been slight.
Gabetti’s figures for the first six months of 2008 bear this out, with Milan registering a mere one per cent fall and Verona 1.5 per cent. In Florence it is 2.1 per cent and Rome 2.4 per cent.
There has been a 14 per cent fall in the number of properties sold but the time taken to complete a purchase has steadied at around six months.
In large part the steadiness of Italian property prices has been because over the past 10-15 years the market has not experienced the exaggerated boom seen in the UK and other countries and so has not had as far to fall.
This has been buttressed by the traditionally conservative lending policies of Italian banks. Only 8.5 per cent population has a mortgage, compared with 19 per cent in the UK.
The advice that property in Italy remains a sound investment is echoed by Antonio Pastore, head of the Milan Chamber of Commerce’s Osmi Borsa Immobiliare.
He says: “I’ve just returned from a property fair in Munich and the belief in the industry is that there’s been no crisis in property.
“To date one doesn’t see effects on prices. However, it’s clear this is a major financial crisis and in the long-term the property market will have to be thought of as separate from high finance, as we’ve been saying for some time.”
Mr Pastore insists the aftermath of the present turmoil will see an improved and more efficient Italian property sector.
But he again stresses the robustness of the market for property in Italy and says: “The situation of the past few days confirms what our studies have revealed – transaction volumes may be down but not prices, as long as they are not ridiculous prices to start with.”
He believes only at the end of the year will a more comprehensive picture emerge. However, he concludes, the sector will see out the uncertainty with nothing like the turbulence that has rocked financial markets.