For most British buyers the first contact with overseas property comes on the internet. Some agents'sites appear at the start of google searches and have pages of old stone or brick built properties selling at under 50, 000.00 euros.
So keen are British buyers to land one of these property 'bargains' that I've actually met people who've bought over the internet without even seeing the property!
In some respects we also got caught up in this buying frenzy. With the price of a farm laboures cottage in 'our' UK village rising to almost £200,000 the 2 bedroomed house in Abruzzo with olives trees in the garden and close to a busy village seemed an absolute bargain.
In general we've been extremly pleased with our house and we're quite happy working on the restoration ourselves during holidays. We've not given ourselves any impossible dealines to meet and the house has become our hobby really.
By doing most jobs ourselves we are saving a small fortune as despite what the agents tell you builders and other professionals in Italy are not cheap,certainly no cheaper than in the UK! In paricular any job requiring a higher level of skill such as repointing,carpentery and plastering will be very expensive. On top of this you will pay 20% IVA. On average the restoration costs on an old property in Italy are around 1,500.00 euros a square meter. This is something the agents wont tell you.At least not many of them. If yours does then I'd use them!
Some jobs in Italy can only be done by professionals and any work on scaffolding is out unless you are a registered builder. Another niggle is the DIA which is a sort of minor Planning Permission that only a Geometra can apply for. His or her fees will be approximately 12% of the cost of the project plus IVA plus their own professional fees tax.
Dia's need to be obtained for most work where the appearance of the house alters and can even be needed to build a garden wall! If the project involes significant changes then the Geometra will need to apply for Full Planning Permission which comes at a far greater cost and the wait to hear the result of the application will also be longer.
Beware of landslides
All buyers should also be aware that Abruzzo like most areas of Italy is vulnerable to landslides and mudslides. The areas that are at most risk can easily be spotted from problems with roadslides slipping and needing reinforcing. Many areas could be stablised if trees and shrubs were allowed to grow but in the area around 'our' village its common to see trees being felled on very steep slopes. The local planning office can help you discover if the property you are interested in is in a Red Zone or Zona Frana.Check it out! And don't assume that new properties are not going to be in these zones. Unfortunatly it seems that there are developers who can get round all the planning regs.It is virtually impossible to get insurance to cover any risk of landslides or earthquakes in Italy.
Abruzzo has been an isolated and poor region. The motorway link with Rome has bought better communications and accessabilty to the area and daily Ryan Air flights mean that tourism is starting to become established.It has some beautiful National Parks and many unspoilt historic buildings and settlements. Its not difficult to understand why so many people are turning towards the region and seeking out property to buy there. However if buyers are hoping for a cheap,easy,hassle free experience then perhaps they need to rethink their plans! At any rate they should do their resaerch both on the net and out in Abruzzo so that if they do decide they want to buy there they will have come to an informed decision.
This article has been submitted by Rebecca Combes of MyAbruzzoHome.com . Before you buy your home in Abruzzo check out her website and discover what the region's really like and how to find all you need when buying and restoring a property.