Buying Italian property to renovate

June 22nd, 2012

The current eurozone turmoil has thrown up some great opportunities in the Italian real estate sector.

On top of that, factor in the country’s timeless appeal that still attracts more than 40 million visitors a year – meaning investment property here still has optimum rental potential, especially close to historic cities such as Rome, Florence and Lucca or close to or along the coast.

One increasingly popular option for property investors is to pick up a property needing renovation, rather than one that is completely ready to move into straight away.

The obvious attraction is the lower upfront expense involved. In the lower-central and southern parts of the country, in particular – regions such as Abruzzo, Molise, Calabria, Campania and Basilicata – ruins to renovate can be bought from as little as €8,000.

Even with a typical reconstruction bill of around €500-€800 a square metre, one can completely renovate an old, 100sq m building for total costs of less than €100,000, far less than buying a similar home already completed would cost.

Many homes to restore are partly habitable, meaning that they can be lived in while work progresses. And this work can be carried out at a pace that suits you – over months or even years – allowing you to spread out costs to suit your budget. There is also the advantage that renovation allows you to build the home of your dreams to your exact specifications.

Stefania Russo, of Italian property search specialists The Property Organiser says: “The economic slowdown has seen more buyers opting for restorations.

“Restoration costs in regions such as Abruzzo are typically around the €800 per sq m mark – approximately half of what it costs in more popular northern Italian regions. And purchasers can spread the costs over months or even years, at their convenience.”

Italy’s rich history means it has tens of thousands of structures up to 500 years old, merely awaiting a bit of TLC to convert them into superb modern dwellings.

There is also a plentiful supply of farmhouses – a popular choice of foreign buyers – largely because of the exodus of swathes of country folk who, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, evacuated rural Italy for towns and cities or even a new life in unfamiliar surroundings thousands of miles from home.

Once you have chosen a property, the next step is to hire reliable professionals to turn your dreams into reality. Although some are quite content to do the legwork themselves, the most advisable route is to get a reputable geometra/surveyor (your estate agent should be able to put you in touch with one).

They will be able to take on good workmen for you as well as talk to local town halls for the needed building permission. Remember that many old Italian properties are made in stone and so work on such homes necessitates workmen experienced working in this material.

Beware of costs spiralling way above budget. Common surprises include pools (allow up to €25,000); improving access roads (budget up to €4,000 for a 100m section); and working on gardens. But your surveyor can thrash out a contract with your workmen setting budget ceilings and deadlines, with penalties kicking in if they are missed.

Although surveyors design homes to a certain extent, their knowhow is limited and it is wise to also hire an architect to oversee design. Ensure you spell out from the get-go exactly what you visualise and that you convey this to the architect. Deciding on something different once work is under way takes up valuable time, is expensive and demoralising for the rest of your team.

Also, be aware of how long the whole procedure may take. The buying process can last up to three months and sorting out the necessary work permits a further six, depending on the relevant local authority.

Finally, unless you intend being on-site more often than not, your team should also feature a independent supervisor to oversee everything and keep things to schedule. The architect or surveyor can also do this for you.

If you have enjoyed reading this article, why not browse through our selection of lakeside houses for sale in Italy? Alternatively, if you have a UK business, you may be interested in office space in London or elsewhere across the UK.

Italy real estate: Home with pool tops women’s wishlist

August 31st, 2010

Installing a swimming pool is the No1 attribute Italian women would love to change about their homes, a survey has revealed.

The dream property of Italian donne, as well as being comfortable and welcoming inside, should ideally also come equipped with a large, open-air area ideal for putting one’s feet up.

Some 53 per cent of those quizzed cite a swimming pool as top of their wishlist in which to relax at weekends, after an exhausting day at the office or just to cool down from the heat in summer.

Just over 40 per cent, with an eye on a healthy lifestyle and diet, would go for a small garden for growing healthy and organic foodstuffs for themselves and their families. A Jacuzzi would be the idyllic choice of 37 per cent, while a home gym ticks the right boxes for 29 per cent of Italian women.

In addition to price, other crucial factors that would-be homeowners weigh up include brightness, living space and the tranquility of the local area, the survey, on behalf of an Italy real estate listings site, suggests.

However, the two types of neighbours Italian women would least want to live next to are musicians and students.

One in three of Italy’s women are currently looking for a home, with purchasing outright preferred over renting. The type of property they are looking for tends to be on the large side: 39 per cent are after a two-bedroom home while more than 46 per cent want at least three bedrooms.

Good news for property portals – 72 per cent of searchers go online to look for properties. Above all, they appreciate the convenience of being able to use the internet at any time of day or night. Secondly, they are attracted by the possibility of buying property directly from owners.

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22 weeks to buy a home in Italy’s cities

August 27th, 2010

The average sale of a property in one of Italy’s large cities currently takes 22 weeks, a survey has revealed.

The 154-day period, a little over five months, is actually a couple of days down compared to six months previously, figures for January to June this year indicate.

The process of buying a property in Italy, explained elsewhere on our site – involves three distinct stages – signing the offer (the proposta irrevocabile di acquisto or irrevocable proposal to buy); preliminary sales contract (contratto preliminare di compravendita) and the signing the rogito (final contract) in a notary’s office.

It can seem unfamiliar and a little complex to many overseas buyers but it contains several checks and balances to protect the interests of both parties.

Typical property sale times in Italy’s provincial capitals such as Trapani in Sicily and Cosenza in Calabria are slightly longer, typically 181 days (up 14 from 167 in January). If buyers wish to head inland, it takes 184 days on average (down from 188 at the start of the year) to complete a property transaction.

Note that on average sales in the larger metropolitan centres are concluded more quickly than those elsewhere, thanks to their more dynamic market. No large city registered a sale length beyond 200 days, the analysis by Italy real estate conglomerate Tecnocasa found.

The cities of Palermo (Sicily), Bari (Puglia) and Verona (Veneto) are the ones with the lengthiest sales times – 181, 178 and 176 days respectively. Among inland locations, the provinces of Verona (216 days), Bologna, Emilia-Romagna (208) and Turin, Piedmont (205 days) showed the longest times.

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Foreigners’ budgets rise in Italy real estate sector

August 25th, 2010

The spending power of overseas buyers looking for a property in Italy has risen sharply this year, new research suggests.

The three months to the end of June saw a 23 per cent rise in the average value of homes they have enquired about compared with the first three months of the year. The figure was up nearly 12 per cent improved on the first quarter of 2009.

Even more impressive was the continued strong performance of the luxury homes in Italy sector. Here, there was a spectacular 52 per cent growth in investors looking for properties in the €500,000-€1,000,000 bracket. Top spenders continue to be the Russians, followed by the Germans and Dutch.

Demand for Italian real estate at the other end of the budget scale also appears vibrant, with an 11 per cent upsurge in homes on the market for less than €100,000.

However, it is between the two extremes where the market is yet to accelerate, the study by an Italy real estate listings firm suggested. Demand for properties in the €250,000-€500,000 bracket declined by just over 1 per cent while the €100,000-€250,000 bracket saw a 17 per cent fall.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s new €30m Italy mansion

July 29th, 2010

This is the lavish mansion in Italy that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have just paid more than €30million for. The sprawling, 1,675sq m villa is in Valpolicella in the Veneto region and is about an hour and a half by road from Venice.

The Hollywood couple and their six children – Maddox, eight; Pax, six; Zahara, five; Shiloh, four; and twins Knox and Vivienne, two –  will lack nothing in space and luxury.

The property boasts 15 bedrooms, two pools, a number of Jacuzzis, a home cinema and a keep-fit centre. Brad, 46, and Angelina, 35, and their youngsters have spent spring and summer in Italy as she shoots her new movie, The Tourist.

Real estate consultant Alexander Proto told Sky Italy magazine: “They wanted something more exclusive and in record time to spend the summer vacation in Italy.”

The couple join a long list of celebrities who own homes close to the lakes of northern Italy, such as George Clooney, Sting, airline tycoons Sir Richard Branson and Michael O’Leary and Real Madrid soccer boss Jose Mourinho.

Sting and wife Trudie Styler also own a 16th century mansion near Florence. Famous expats with homes elsewhere in Italy include Dame Helen Mirren (Tiggiano, Puglia); and pop stars Suggs (Lecce, Puglia); Mick Hucknall and Jim Kerr (both Taormina, Sicily).

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