To own a property in Italy is in the dreams of many northern Europeans….because of the mild weather we have here, the great food and wine, and the Italian’s friendliness and lifestyle. In my own experience, I have facilitated many former clients (and now friends) to buy and renovate, and thought I would share in this post some short comments on this matter.
Not only I have assisted these clients in the buying/renovating process, but I have been marketing and managing their properties for rentals, when not used by the owners. With respect to buying a property in Umbria and keeping it as an investment and renting it out when you are not using it, I think this is a good idea indeed, but, there are a few points that have to be taken into consideration :
– It is very difficult to find “the perfect villa”: most potential buyers are looking for a villa with 3/4 bedrooms, a pool, big windows and bright rooms, open space kitchen/living, outdoor patios, not much land, a view, and at a walking distance from some nice little town. And this with a budget of 400/500.000 euros. Well, this simply does not exist in Umbria, and if it exists, it has been recently built and is not for sale. Most of the houses in Umbria have been built with a “rural mentality”, so something completely different: windows are small, rooms are many (and small).
– Bureaucracy in Italy is a disaster, so the amount of time and patience required is huge. Buyers inevitably end up in the hands of some geometra or some commercilaista or who know who – and have to pray God that those consultants are honest people. Bureaucracy has to do with every step of a similar projects : acquisition, renovation, rentals, and every step is a headache (unless you ave been doing this for the past 20 years). Also agents tend to be very superficial, and every this is always “all right”: they get their commission at the moment the deal si agreed on both side, and if some shit happens afterwards, they simply say “ops, I didn’t know”. I have seen this many times….
– Rentals are kind of doing well, but – unless the owner uses the house very little time – not really profitable. Meaning that the owner will be able to cover: taxes, agents’ fees, staff, maintenance, but after that, not very much left…. in my opinion, the real reason of renting (except the fact that you won’t have any cost), is that the house will be always in perfect conditions, and you can use it for your own fun, not worrying about reparations and other headaches, and invite friends, colleagues etc etc that – having a staff on site – will enjoy their stay very much without you having any kind of trouble
This said, and being realistic, I think that the best thing to do is to buy a land with a building permission, so the owner can build the house with all the features he likes. This will take – from the moment the deed is signed to the moment the owner will walk into the finished house – about 30 months. Certainly the owner will need very good consultants (that are expensive and rare, and my suggestion is www.renovatinginumbria.com), and a budget of Euro 650.000 for a house of 200 square meters with a pool:
100.000 for the land
450.000 for constructions
100.000 for consultants, taxes and other costs
What I can say, is that life in Umbria is very pleasant: it is an unpolluted area, super safe (we barely lock doors), people are friendly and food and wine are memorable. We are also very near a major airport, so everything is at easy reach. The problem is having a realistic approach, and not fantasies about the Italian clichè. Italy is fun and beautiful, but Italians are messy, disorganized, and unfortunately tend to be layers and not very honest, spec when it comes to “stranieri” (foreigners). This does not mean that “stranieri” can not have a nice experience here, but better watch out…