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Property in Italy: A weekly roundup of the latest news and updates

Property in Italy: A weekly roundup of the latest news and updates
Photo: alevision.co on Unsplash
Whether you're contemplating taking a step on the Italian property ladder or are already in Italy and planning renovations, stay up to date with The Local's guide to the latest property news and talking points.

Italy’s property market is thriving – but foreign residents are buying fewer homes

While Italy’s property market has been booming overall despite the pandemic, one study has found that housing sales to non-Italian residents have dropped by half – from 106,000 in the  2018-2019 period to 56,000 in 2020-2021.

The main factors behind the decline are a credit squeeze on mortgages brought about by the economic crisis and uncertain employment prospects, according to the study by independent research institute Scenari Immobiliari (Real Estate Scenarios)

READ ALSO: Escape from the city: These are the 21 cheapest Italian provinces to move to

The downturn was also attributed to the inability of prospective buyers to visit properties in person for several months during early 2020, when Italy went into strict lockdown.

Italy’s housing sector as a whole thrived during 2020 and early 2021, with prices rising more than they had in the past decade after a brief Covid-19-induced slump at the start of the year, according to provisional figures from the national statistics office Istat.

The south and Italy’s islands saw the highest level of increased interest from buyers, with prices in these areas seeing a 3 percent jump in the first quarter of 2020 on the same period a year before.

A row of houses by a lake in Lierna, Lecco

Photo: Michael Meyer/Unsplash

The town near Rome with €1 homes for sale

The list of idyllic hilltop villages in rural Italy putting neglected properties up for sale at the symbolic price of €1 just keeps getting longer. 

They’re usually in remote areas far from Italy’s major cities, but this week the town of Maenza became the first in Rome’s Lazio region to join the project.

Maenza is around 80 kilometres from Rome, or a 90-minute drive – although there are no public transport connections.

Of course, buyers must agree to some conditions. They will have to commit to renovating the property within three years, and pay a deposit of €5,000, which will be returned once the renovation is complete. They must also detail whether the property will become a private home or a business, such as a shop, hotel or restaurant.

READ ALSO: ‘What happened when I bought a house in Italy during lockdown – without viewing it’

Becoming a permanent resident is not compulsory but the city council is keen to attract young families with children, and priority will be given to buyers wanting to settle down rather than those looking for a holiday home.

Read more about Maenza’s offering here and see our list of towns offering one-euro homes here.

If you’ve made an offer on a one-euro property anywhere in Italy, please get in touch and let us know about your experience.

Should Italy sell off its abandoned ‘ghost towns’?

Renovating a house is one thing, but would you consider buying an entire abandoned Italian village? There are thousands of forgotten ‘ghost towns’ across the country with no residents left, and thousands more risk going the same way if depopulation continues at the current rate.

Our writer argues this week that the government should consider selling crumbling, uninhabited villages to private buyers who can give them a new lease of life. In fact, there are already a handful of examples of people successfully buying and renovating remote villages. You can read the full article here.

READ ALSO: Will Italy really pay you to move to its ‘smart working’ villages?

Photo: Marcello Paternostro/AFP

Did you know?

In some countries it’s seen as essential that you have a chartered surveyor assess a property for defects and likely future issues before finalising your offer.

But in Italy, house surveys prior to purchase are not a legal requirement, and there’s no shortage of estate agents who’ll tell clients that they do not need one. Plus many people assume that, when an estate agent says the house can be modified in various ways during renovation, this is the correct information.

But failure to carry out proper checks before purchase often leads to nasty surprises down the line – particularly in a country where abusivo (illegal) building work is so rife. 

If you end up the owner of a property riddled with building irregularities you could find yourself in hot water. Or at least having to pay hefty fees to regularise the paperwork.

As property and renovation experts keep reminding us, a survey carried out by a good geometra (surveyor) or engineer is likely to prove valuable – both in terms of saving the buyer money in the long term and avoiding any trouble with local authorities. Here’s more information about the issues you’ll want to avoid when purchasing a property for renovation.

What do you think?

Please get in touch at [email protected] to let us know if you’ve found this new weekly feature useful and share any suggestions you have for property-related news from Italy.


Member comments

  1. “Italy’s property market is thriving – but foreign residents are buying fewer homes”.
    No wonder! The Italian government makes it very hard to purchase property for non-EU citizens. In order to secure an Elective Resident Visa, you have to provide a property deed, or a twelve-month rental lease, before you even know if you’ll be accepted. Showing financial means doesn’t seem to be enough. If you forego the residency visa, you can only stay in Schengen for a total of 90 out of every 180 days. Hardly an incentive to want to purchase

  2. Peterjoan,
    Every country has rules about how long you can stay without a visa. I think you should contact Smart Move Italy and see if they can help you. They helped me and we are closing on a property in Apulia in a few weeks. We have citizenship, so that is a substantial difference, but we know many who have worked with SMI to secure their ERVs — some in quite a short time period. SMI has a Facebook page and are doing a Bootcamp in early September – it is free and chock full of information. No heavy sales pitch just a mention at the end that if you want to dig deeper there are options for more help available. Literally, just A sentence at the end of the Bootcamp (at least that was my experience in April 2021). Best of luck!

  3. Sound advice! We’ve just bought our ‘forever-home’ here in Sicily, and while stressful, if’n you do your homework, it becomes (somewhat) easier, yeah?
    Did have to walk away from a property here that the real estate agent claimed was ‘perfect;y fine’ but ended up being entirely illegal! But, thanks to our geometra, we avoided that one…
    Cheers, and good luck to all looking now… 🙂

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