Real Estate Investment Opportunities in Italy
The turmoil that Brexit has caused does not have to mean that commercial opportunities cannot be seized where they arise. It might just be the best time to buy investment real estate in Italy. Italian house prices are continuing to fall at such a rate that Italy alone out of all Europe has a contracting real estate market leading the Financial Times to describe Italy’s real estate market as “a notable EU outlier”. This situation is understandably fuelling discontent in the 72% of Italian households that own their own property when they see the slide in value. However, as in a great deal of declining situations, this presents an opportunity for those investors who take the long view.
The banks are seeing loans going bad to the tune of €173 bn of bad debts and they are recovering money by selling properties at auction. The shrewd investor could very easily obtain a significant reduction in price by buying at auction. There are also a number of property schemes in Italy aimed at revitalising either an area or the property itself which offer extremely good value for money to the investor willing to put money into a property and wait a while for a return.
There are many practically deserted villages all over Italy that have lost their populations as young Italians have migrated to other countries to develop their experience and skills. Therefore, in an attempt to revive swaths of rural areas across Italy, schemes, whereby people prepared to relocate and refurbish the properties in these idyllic bucolic settings, are able to buy properties for as little as one euro, in some cases. The schemes require a minimum investment and a commitment to living there. Perfect as retirement homes and also perfect for those young families wishing to bring their children up in a rustic environment, with the added benefit of learning another language. It would be wise to instruct an English speaking Italian lawyer to guide you through the process and advise on the legal implications of the various types of schemes to find the best type of investment to suit your purposes. Another consideration is that your investment property has the capacity to provide an income. Furthermore, the wisdom of buying Italian real estate is that Italy is the third most popular tourist destination in Europe, and the scope for deriving an income from the tourist trade is almost guaranteed; this makes a compelling argument for investment.
A property bought for the purpose of a straightforward holiday house or apartment can provide a steady income throughout the spring, summer and into the early autumn. If you do not intend to relocate you can manage your investment at long distance with the help of a good local manager. The running costs, maintenance, advertising as well as the management fees should be able to be paid out of the rental income and provide a small profit. It would be wise to keep a close eye on the enterprise however in case problems arise unnoticed. If, on the other hand, you intend to relocate and manage the property yourself the risk is largely dispersed.
In any event, a shrewd move would be to retain the services of an Italian lawyer to ensure that there are no breaches or regulatory or tax contraventions that are overlooked; this would ensure that an absentee investor would have another layer of protection against any unscrupulous or slack management of the property. The Italian real estate market is unlikely to remain at such a low point for very long; this particular window of opportunity may vanish once the current turmoil has cleared.
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