Buying a house in Italy in times of corona

You want to buy a house in Italy, but there is a corona crisis. What now?

You have had an Italian dream for a while, you want to buy a house in Italy. You might want to start a B&B or a campsite there. Or you want to live there after your retirement and enjoy la dolce vita. You may also be looking for a holiday home for joint holidays with your family or a group of friends. The reasons can vary considerably why you want to buy a house.
But after much deliberation, you have decided to really take the step to actively look for your dream home in Italy. And then suddenly a corona crisis broke out. A pandemic that has turned the world upside down. Suddenly traveling was no longer allowed. What does that mean for your plans? What is still possible and what is not possible anymore?

Continue your search despite the corona crisis

With this blog I think I can help you to continue your search. I am not a real estate agent, so I cannot inform you about all the ins and outs of buying a house in Italy. But what I can do is share everything I do know about it with you. I hope this will put you on the track to continue your search despite the corona crisis.
And yes, we have our house for sale in Italy. But no, this blog is not a sales pitch. We have lived in Italy for almost 22 years, I speak the language well and I now know quite well how things work here. 

Which 5 actions can you take before buying your house in Italy, even in times of corona?

Again, you want to buy a house in Italy. And whether or not there is a corona crisis, if you want to buy a house, you are going to take action.

1. What makes you live in Italy

First of all, you make it clear to yourself what you want to do in Italy. After all, you will have to live on something. And going to live in Italy just like that and then see if you will receive income is not a good idea. After all, it is already difficult for the Italians themselves to find work and generate a normal income. In addition, you will have to prove to the Italian state that you have sufficient income if you want to stay in Italy for more than 3 months.

2. Determine your budget

Second, you will also have to determine your budget. If you need a mortgage, don't count on the bank in the Netherlands. A mortgage in Italy depends on your current income and not, as is possible in the Netherlands, on a business plan. And a mortgage is usually only given up to 50 to 60% of the value of the property. So you always need your own money.

3. Choose a region

Third, choose a region where you want to settle. There are 20 regions in Italy, which in turn are subdivided into provinces (103 total). In other words, limit your search area for your dream home in Italy and also look at the feasibility of your choice in combination with your budget. In some regions, houses are priced much higher than others.

4. Make a wish list

Fourth, make a list of things that are important to you that your future home in Italy should comply with. Then divide this list into 'hard' and 'soft' points. Think of the location of the house, the size, the number of bedrooms, the amount of land, the style of the house, do you want a fixer-upper or a ready-to-move-in house? Also keep an eye on the feasibility in connection with your budget when making this list.

5. Start your search

Fifth, you can search the internet, but I would recommend that you only do this if you have clear what you want and how big your budget is, otherwise you will soon no longer see the forest for the trees. It is actually most convenient to choose a broker now.

What should you pay attention to when choosing a real estate agent in Italy

Exclusivity

Here in Italy it is very common for a real estate agent not to have the exclusive right to sell a house. Most homeowners therefore put their house up for sale with more than one broker. I have read that it pays to see if the property you have in mind is for sale with several brokers. It seems to happen regularly that different prices are asked for exactly the same house!
A broker here also does not work exclusively for one party or the other. A real estate agent in Italy is responsible by law for bringing the selling and buying party together. Therefore receives a brokerage fee from both parties.

Cost

We only have our house for sale with one broker. We are so used to it in the Netherlands and believe in the relationship of trust between real estate agent and home owner. Our broker charges 3% commission on sale to a client from his file. But if we come with a client ourselves, we pay € 6000. Because we work with a broker we know and trust 100%, we have also agreed that they will also accompany the buyer who comes through us for the same money. Then we pay half and the buyer the other half.
If you choose your own broker, they will in principle charge you 3% commission unless you are good at negotiating and you can negotiate a discount.

Reliability

But how do you find a reliable broker yourself? I can't really guess at this, because when we bought Polmone, we didn't need a real estate agent because we bought the farm from a former colleague. She is Dutch and her husband is Italian, which was an ideal combination for us, because both languages and cultures were present. And because she translated everything for us, we never had any problems. So I have no experience with brokers other than the broker we have now who speaks English, German and Italian and has an employee who speaks Dutch. Ideal for us and perhaps ideal for you too. It is a real estate agent based in Perugia and has recently partnered with a renowned German real estate agent in Munich. They have clients all over the world.

Protected profession

In the Netherlands, anyone can establish themselves as a broker, but here it is a protected profession. Brokers must meet strict requirements here. They must have formal training, a license and professional indemnity insurance and be registered in the register of brokers at the Chamber of Commerce. Only a recognized broker may mediate in the purchase and sale. So pay attention to who you work with. Ask your broker for their registration number at the Chamber of Commerce in Italy. It seems that only official brokers are allowed to charge brokerage. 

Access restrictions in Italy due to the corona crisis

As I wrote above, traveling abroad through the Netherlands until March 2021 is strongly discouraged. But also here in Italy everyone is advised to stay at home as much as possible. Currently there are restrictions for all of Italy and there are also specific restrictions per region. Depending on the severity of the infections, all regions have now been colored. Red for regions where infections can no longer be controlled, orange for regions with a high risk and yellow for other regions. Below you can read what the restrictions are for the red regions and which restrictions apply to the orange regions. In the yellow regions, the restrictions that apply to all of Italy apply.

General restrictions throughout Italy

There is currently a curfew throughout Italy. You must stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The so-called autocertificazione (statement where you are going and why) is re-entered for that time period. So if you have to go out for work or for health reasons, you should be able to discuss it. Furthermore, the shopping centers are closed on weekends. Museums and exhibitions are closed. The bars and restaurants have to close at 6pm and are allowed to provide takeaway food until 10pm. The swimming pools, sports halls and gyms are also all closed. Fewer people may be transported on public transport. Finally, online teaching has been reintroduced for all secondary schools. The are yellow regions Basilicata, Calabria, Lombardia, Piemonte, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Le Marche, Puglia, Sicilia, Umbria, Lazio, Molise, Sardegna, Veneto and the autonomous province of Trento.

Restrictions for the orange regions

Abbruzzo, Campania, Aosta Valley, Toscana, and the autonomous province of Bolzano colors orange. Going to an orange region makes no sense, because travel between the municipalities in those regions is prohibited and you can enter the region, but not leave it. In the orange regions, the bars and restaurants are completely closed.

Restrictions for the red regions

There have been a number of them since November 6 regions in Italy red and it was forbidden to move in or out of these regions. In the red regions, all so-called unnecessary shops were also closed. So only pharmacies and shops selling food were allowed to be open.
The situation was updated again on December 13, so that there are currently no red regions.

Specific restrictions for the holidays

Van 20 december tot 6 januari is het in heel Italië verboden om je te verplaatsen tussen de verschiilende regio’s of autonome provincies.
Van 24 december tot 3 of misschien wel 6 januari kleurt heel Italië rood.
Op 24, 25, 26, 27, 31 december en 1 t/m 3 januari zijn bars en restaurants de hele dag gesloten, winkels blijven dicht en het is verboden om je te verplaatsen, ook in je eigen gemeente.
Op 28, 29 en 30 december mag je je wel vrij bewegen en winkels, bars en restaurants mogen dan open.
Vandaag, 17-12-2020 moeten de details nog worden besloten bijvoorbeeld of 2 naaste verwanten wel hun fragiele ouders en hoogbejaarde grootouders mogen opzoeken. Met deze maatregelen hoopt de regering een derde coronagolf te voorkomen.
It is strongly recommended to spend those days only with people from one household, possibly with very close relatives, but preferably not with more than 10 people.
De avondklok blijft van kracht en geldt vanaf 10 uur ’s avonds tot 6 uur ’s ochtends. Dus ook op Capodanno, oudejaarsavond. En dan eindigt de avondklok pas om 7 uur ’s ochtends. Op dit moment, 17-12-2020 wordt er ook nog gesproken om de avondklok te vervroegen naar 8 uur ’s avonds voor de hele periode.
If you come from abroad you have to be quarantined for 10 days. The ski areas may reopen from 7 January.

Travel information for Dutch people

I recommend that you especially use the site of the Dutch government to keep an eye on whether download the travel app from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also on the site of the ANWB you can find good information. Furthermore, I will update the information in this blog with every change.

Will there still be guests coming through the corona crisis?

Just a small snack, because whether people go on holiday to Italy is not interesting for everyone reading this. But if your dream is to work with guests, you are of course curious whether they are still due to the corona crisis. It can make a big difference to your budget whether guest revenue is to be expected or not.
I will honestly tell you that we had an incredible number of reservations this year. The first guests would arrive in mid-March and the last would leave at the end of October. Due to the lockdown in the spring, nobody could of course come, but fortunately the season got underway at the end of June. Bookings were still added until the end of August. But due to the uncertainty about rising corona figures at the end of August, people also canceled. All in all, we are very satisfied with this bizarre year. All in all, it was not a full 5-month occupation, but our experience is that people go to Italy on holiday if they are allowed. Overall, there will certainly be fewer people going on holiday to Italy. But if you make sure that potential guests have confidence that they can go to a corona-proof accommodation, you really do get bookings.

Has anything changed in the real estate market due to the corona crisis?

Demand for rural houses is increasing

Something has definitely changed! We talked to our real estate agent about it and apparently the demand for rural houses that are fairly remote has increased significantly. Until the corona crisis, people always looked close to a city or village, but now they mainly look for remote places. So good for us!

People are considering moving to a village

I also read that Funda has conducted a user survey which showed that the Dutch are less and less satisfied with their home situation as the corona crisis continues.
In a poll in May, dissatisfaction was already noted, and in September that dissatisfaction has grown. 12% of the respondents indicated by considering the corona crisis to live in a village and to flee the city. If the situation remains unchanged for a year, another 5% will consider fleeing the city.

Working from home

The fact that many respondents work from home is an important factor in this consideration. They expect that they will continue to work from home in the future, so distance from work is no longer a factor. Furthermore, a large part of the respondents is over 65.
In Italy we also read that people who worked from home did not return to the big city, such as Milan. During the first wave of the corona crisis, they fled the city back to the South where they came from. Because they have experienced that they could do their work remotely without problems, many of them did not return.
So it is of course also possible for you if you can work online to do that in Italy.

More bang for your buck

This dissatisfaction with the current housing situation also has consequences for the real estate market in Italy. The housing market in the Netherlands is quite overstrained and compared to what you get for your money in the Netherlands, in Italy you generally get more value and room for your money.

Should you postpone buying your dream home in Italy due to the corona crisis?

If you have a list of houses you want to view in any way, the limitations due to the corona crisis only come into play. At the moment it is in any case not recommended by the Dutch government to travel. So you have to postpone going to see your dream home live. But you can ask the seller or the selling broker if they want to make a virtual tour of the real estate. Then you can ask your broker to do a viewing where you are present so that you can also ask your questions live.
We have even made a number of virtual tours for our house. We will show you everything, the garden, the surroundings, the farm with the 4 guest rooms, the separate house where we live, the enormous space under the house and the swimming pool. If you like watching them you can download the tours below.

2 Comments

  1. So suppose…. you buy a house for 45,000 euros, then the intention is that you already buy / pay off at least half?
    And buy a house without a broker? Good idea or not done?

    • Dear Hilde,
      We also bought our house without a broker at the time, so I am the last to say that that would not be done. Only we bought it from a reliable acquaintance and I don't know if that is the case with you. But keep in mind that a broker checks whether everything is correct. You can also ask a geometra or hire a lawyer, but I don't know if you speak Italian.
      And what I know about a down payment on a home you are going to buy is that the preliminary purchase contract usually involves a down payment of 10 to 30% of the sale price. So not half.

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