Foreigners Eye Property in Italy

The projected rise of the British pound and falling prices in Italy have many Brits looking for investment opportunities in Tuscany and Umbria. Real estate experts in the …

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The projected rise of the British pound and falling prices in Italy have many Brits looking for investment opportunities in Tuscany and Umbria. Real estate experts in the area say it’s an excellent time to buy for this reason, and also because Italy was slow to accept the economic downturn and is only now coming to terms with lower home values. Tuscany and Umbria’s luxury market home prices have slipped some 5% in 2011 according to research conducted by Knight Frank, although investors are also attracted to the region because of its climate, history, architecture and rich quality of life. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

Informed buyers and realistic vendors are helping the property markets in Tuscany and Umbria, two of the most popular locations in Italy for overseas buyers, recover, according to experts.

Eurozone buyers were most active in 2011 due to the strong euro but British buyers may return in 2012 as sterling is expected to continue to strengthen against the euro.

Linda Travella of Casa Travella, who has been selling property in Italy for 25 years, said that Italy was slow to accept the economic downturn at the end of 2008 and prices did not really start to decrease until the second quarter of 2009.
 
‘There has been an increase in the amount of buyers searching online in the last 12 months. This is an excellent time to buy a property in Italy as the Pound is at it’s strongest for almost two years and prices are at their lowest,’ she said.

‘There is a very good selection of property in Tuscany from under €100,000 in the area North of Lucca to a prestigious villa and vineyard in Chianti set in 20 acres that produced over 11,000 bottles of wine in 2011 for under €3.5 million,’ she explained.

‘A vast selection of properties and a strong Pound means it is a buyers’ market.  The Tuscan real estate market has always been international and there is still interest from around the world,’ she added.

According to Knight Frank’s Italian department the average price of luxury homes fell by around 5% in Tuscany and Umbria during 2011. ‘This marginal downward shift was predominantly due to external factors such as the pervading global economic uncertainty and the Eurozone’s debt crisis,’ said Rupert Fawcett.

Buyers are not just interested in the higher end of the market. Knight Frank saw healthy levels of activity in the €500,000 to €1.5 million market but there was also a large increase in enquiry levels from €5 million to €15 million.

‘Most new properties coming onto the market are being correctly priced which is helping the market gain traction Tuscany and Umbria represent one of Europe’s most established second home markets,’ explained Fawcett.

Most purchases in the region are lifestyle driven, motivated by the region’s climate, landscape and history. International buyers are looking to sample la dolce vita by enjoying the region’s exemplary food and wine and by absorbing the culture, renaissance architecture and relaxed pace of life,’ he added.

 

In 2011 Eurozone buyers, particularly those from the Benelux nations, overtook British and US purchasers. ‘However, we may see a reversal of this trend as Sterling is expected to strengthen against the Euro in 2012 potentially boosting UK demand once more,’ said his colleague Bill Thomson.

Chianti with its archetypal view of Cypress trees and rolling hills with country homes and farmhouses nestled amongst them is one of the most popular locations for overseas buyers. Beyond Chianti the Val d’Orcia, which extends from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata, is also attracting significant interest along with Cortona to the east and the medieval city of Lucca to the north west, according to the Knight Frank team.

They also mention Florence as a traditional favourite with buyers who want to take advantage of the city’s cultural richness but also as a base to explore the region’s countryside.

Umbria has traditionally been considered marginally cheaper than Tuscany but today there is very little margin between them, with Umbria’s Niccone Valley becoming increasingly popular.

‘We expect prices to remain relatively steady in 2012 with market activity picking up slightly as the year progresses. Restrictions on new development means that demand for the best quality properties will always exceed supply and there is already a notable dearth of this stock coming onto the market,’ added Fawcett.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.

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