Italy has it all – world renowned works of art and music, magnificent architecture, amazing countryside, a fascinating culture and exquisite food and wine. And moving there is often about embracing the Italian passion for indulging in the good life. The country, in fact, remains one of the most popular European countries to live in for Britons. House prices may just have fallen for the seventh consecutive year, but it appears that buyers have stopped waiting for the bottom of the market. According to a report from the Nomisma Institute, sales of existing homes will increase by 3.7 percent this year, marking the first gain since 2006. And purchases in Rome, Florence, Genoa and Bologna rose by more than 10 percent in the third quarter of 2014 when compared with the previous year. Homebuyers are taking advantage of the lowest mortgage costs since 2011 even as the economy contracts and prices continue to fall.
The Italian property market has actually remained quite stable, primarily due to the country never being heavily involved in the sub-prime lending market. Nor has it suffered the effects of the over-development of property, like Spain for example. Italian homeowners buy houses to live in rather than as an investment, and on average, move only once every 20 years. Prices, therefore, have remained relatively more realistic and have had less room to fall. The country is not immune, however, to the slower market so there is plenty of room for some price negotiation with very motivated vendors. The mortgage market is starting to open up more, with new lenders entering the market, although purchases are limited to higher value properties with a minimum loan of €250,000. Rates start from just 2.95%.
As always, it’s imperative to take professional advice before making any decisions. Prospective buyers should always go through the same process that they would follow if they were buying a property in the UK, and this includes consulting a good independent lawyer, and ensuring that an independent valuation of the property takes place, even if it’s a cash purchase. There’s nothing to be gained, and everything to lose, by cutting corners and taking unnecessary risks. One of the most effective ways of obtaining a mortgage for a property purchase in Italy is to use a specialist broker in the UK. They’ll know the exact mortgage application requirements and can source the best possible deal. It can also put buyers in touch with specialists in Italy, to ensure that they comply fully with planning and legal conditions, and can also assist with currency exchange.