Luxury Italian properties still in demand

February 26th, 2009 | by Ainsley |

As property prices crash all around, in Italy and further beyond, the luxury Italian property sector still stands virtually unscathed.

The only noticeable difference reported by Italian property agents and private vendors is that buyers are showing greater insistence on attention to detail and quality of properties. However, this is rarely a stumbling block as quality and price are what distinguish this sector from others in the market.

Another factor that has helped prestige properties in Italy maintain their value is the fact their inherent quality means owners are frequently reluctant to let go of them and therefore few come on the market. Indeed, a large number of those currently changing hands tend to be inherited from a relative.

Buyers of luxury Italian property typically prefer properties in palazzo buildings that are bright; on a high floor preferably with a terrace; have two bathrooms; and come with a garage or parking space. A quiet, residential street away from traffic also helps.

The building needs to be in impeccable condition – perhaps without saying – while vaulted ceilings, frescos and a panoramic view all serve to increase the property’s desirability.

The type of apartment in demand is one requiring some renovation as this allows buyers to stamp their personal preferences on the finished product. However, already renovated apartments also appeal to buyers as long as that renovation has retained the property’s original characteristics.

In Rome, the heart of the prestige Italian property market, most high-value sales are of properties in the historic heart of the Eternal City – the Spanish Steps, Campo dei Fiori, Piazza di Trevi and Il Tridente in particular.

At present most purchasers tend to be foreigners smitten by the charm of Rome or high-earning professionals who already have a home in the Italian capital.

Top of their wish list are attic-style penthouses and top-floor apartments in historic palazzi, but their scarcity has led many buyers to lower their sights and settle for intermediate floors.

The area around the Spanish Steps currently demands the highest prices, up to €13,000 per sq m for larger apartments and up to €18,000 per sq m for smaller ones. Both types tend to be in palazzi dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

A few hundred metres away, properties a stone’s throw from the Colosseum are also highly sought after and tend to be snapped up by overseas buyers, high-income professionals or business tycoons from Northern Italy who find themselves frequently in the city on business and want a prestige home in Rome as a base.

Again, the top prices are for top-floor properties with terraces offering views over sights such as the Colosseum and the Imperial Forum.

Rome’s Eur district is also popular with high-value buyers and has villas and apartments readily available from upwards of 200sq m. Detached villas tend to be of the one- or two-storey variety and with an inviting garden.

Further afield, the north-west suburb of Laghetto, some 12 miles or so from the city centre, is another good area in which to find luxury Italian property.

Here, a 300sq m villa with a quarter-acre garden will typically come with a price tag of around €3.5million. And top-floor apartments – typically in a 1950s or 1960s building and measuring around 170sq m – will fetch around €1.25million.

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