When buying a home anywhere, it isn’t wise to be in too much of a hurry – and Italy is no exception. Although it’s a common practice, mixing a holiday with property purchase isn’t wise, as most people are inclined to make poor decisions when their mind is fixed on play rather than business.
Some people make expensive (even catastrophic) errors when buying a home in Italy, usually because they don’t do sufficient research and are simply in too much of a hurry – often setting themselves ridiculous deadlines such as buying a home during a long weekend or a week’s holiday.
Many people have had their fingers burnt by rushing into property deals without proper care and consideration. It’s all too easy to fall in love with the beauty and allure of Italy and sign a contract without giving it sufficient thought. If you’re uncertain, don’t allow yourself to be rushed into making a hasty decision, e.g. by fears of an imminent price rise or because someone else is interested in a property. Although many people dream of buying a holiday or retirement home in Italy, it’s vital to do your homework thoroughly and avoid the ‘dream sellers’ (often fellow countrymen) who will happily prey on your ignorance and tell you anything in order to sell you a home.
It’s a lucky person who gets his choice absolutely right first time, which is why most experts recommend that you rent before buying unless you’re absolutely sure of what you want, how much you wish to pay and where you want to live. Have a good look around in your chosen region(s) and obtain an accurate picture of the types of property available, their relative prices and what you can expect to get for your money. However, before doing this, you should make a comprehensive list of what you want (and don’t want) from a home, so that you can narrow the field and save time on wild goose chases.
There’s no shortage of properties for sale in Italy (although rural properties in Tuscany and Umbria are now in short supply) and whatever kind of property you’re looking for, you’re likely have an abundance to choose from. In most areas, properties for sale include derelict farmhouses, unmodernised village homes, modern apartments with all mod cons, and a wide choice of detached villas. Another option is to buy a plot and have a house built to your specifications.
Wait until you find something you fall head over heels in love with and then think about it for a week or two before rushing headlong to the notaio. One of the advantages of buying property in Italy is that there’s often another ‘dream’ home around the next corner – and the second or third dream home is often even better than the first. What seems at first to be the opportunity of a lifetime can turn out to be an expensive pile of stones. Don’t dally too long, however, as good properties at the right price don’t remain on the market for long.
If you’re looking for a holiday home, you may wish to investigate mobile homes or a scheme that restricts your occupancy of a property to a number of weeks each year. These include shared ownership, leaseback and time-sharing ( multipropriedad). Don’t rush into any of these schemes without fully researching the market and before you’re absolutely clear about what you want and what you can realistically expect to get for your money.
The secret of successfully buying a home in Italy (or anywhere) is research, research and more research. A successful purchase is much more likely if you thoroughly investigate the various regions, the types of property available, prices and relative values, and the procedure for buying property.
The more research you do before committing yourself the better; this should (if possible) include advice from those who already own a home in Italy, from whom you can usually obtain invaluable information (often based on their own mistakes), as well as by reading publications and visiting property exhibitions.
There are a number of books especially written for those planning to live or work in Italy (like Buying a Home in Italy, written by David Hampshire and Living and Working in Italy, written by Nick Daws, both published by Survival Books).
Property exhibitions are now commonplace in the UK and Ireland, and are increasingly popular with prospective buyers who can get a good idea of what’s available and make contact with estate agents and developers. You may be charged an admission fee. Outbound Publishing (1 Commercial Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3XQ, UK, Tel.: (+44) 01323-726040, ) publishes World of Property, a quarterly publication containing many properties for sale in Italy (and other countries) and organise exhibitions in the south and north of England. Property is also advertised in many newspapers and magazines in Italy and abroad, and on the Internet.
The cost of investing in a few books or magazines (and other research) is tiny compared with the expense of making a big mistake.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Italy from Survival Books.