Chris here with Super Savvy Travelers!
For those who have been watching us on our Youtube channel, Wow! What an amazing last season we had as we facilitated the sale of almost 30 properties in our Riviera dei Cedri and beyond!
It was wild times and being gluttons for punishment, we are looking to up our game into next year! If you are coming over to look at properties, let us know as soon as possible so we can get you scheduled in. Things are booking up quickly!
This last season has been an eye opener as well. We ran into issues we had not experienced before and that were entirely unexpected.
For this reason I am taking experienced finger to willing keyboard to provide you some Italian property red flags you might run into during your house hunt and some strategies for dealing with them.
Italian Property Purchase Red Flags!
1. Never ask your agent about any structural or design concerns you have
I have seen properties with major structural issues. When I asked the owner about them they told me that the agent assured them that the issues were nothing to worry about and were cosmetic.
This was not the case. A subsequent tour with the architect revealed that these issues were not only not cosmetic but pointed to major foundation issues with the house that needed to be addressed.
With another house that I toured with the architect and an agent, I asked the architect who was standing next to agent whether or not a pool could be put in on the upper terrace. The agent jumped in unprompted and told me that there would be no problem. I pointedly asked the architect who was standing right there if that was true and he said it would not be possible. I want to also state that I have caught this particular agent speaking out of turn in exactly this manner to other people as well. Obviously, we do not use this agent nor recommend him.
The bottom line is that, in California, if you as an agent advise a client about a subject that you are technically unqualified to assess, you can be sued for damages if they take your lousy advice. The same may or may not be true in Italy but believe me, you do not want to go legal in a foreign country. It is best to get an engineer or architect in and have them assess the situation as they are the qualified professionals.
2. Make sure you get the HOA or commune rules on renovating BEFORE you purchase a home in an historic center.
Historic centers in Italy are strictly protected. In our commune, you are highly limited with regard to putting in new windows, enlarging windows or creating balconies, raising roofs, enlarging rooms, etc. If you want to renovate, you had better go through with the architect BEFORE you purchase to ensure that what you want to do can be done.
3. Ask people who know about the area what it is like
Every area has its own unique personality and sometimes there may be cliques that you need to know about. There are some places where you will have problems if you bring in an architect or builder from outside the area to do work on your house. Ensure that you have spoken to someone who knows. Again, don’t ask your agent. They are there to sell you a property and may or may not fully disclose any problems they have encountered.<
4. Don’t purchase sight unseen
Initially, many months ago, I rolled out a remote purchase program. This was because due to Covid, people could not travel to Italy. This has changed. It is still inconvenient to travel to Italy but you are buying a property and if you cannot arrange your life to make a quick trip, chances are this is not the time for you to buy.
Living in a foreign country is not everyone’s cup of tea. I have had clients that I told flat out that this was not the place for them. There are so many things that are different and require extra time and above all, patience. If travel right now is too much, I am sorry to say that living in a foreign country might also be too much and you really need to experience it to find out if it is right for you.
5. Understand that some houses have no heat, no electrics and no plumbing
The 1 Euro Italian houses come to mind. These were abandoned long before many of the people in these villages had running water or electricity.
If you look at photos of these villages, even our beloved Santa Domenica Talao, even in as short a time ago as 1960, you will see that things were very different than here in the US. Italy has come a very long way in a short time. But many of these abandoned houses have been abandoned for a century or more. Even some modern homes that were built as vacation rentals have no heat. Always ask.
6. Understand that it is not about the house as much as it is about daily life in the area
Your house is important but if you get frustrated because you need to drive everywhere, or the roads are bad, or the sheep block you every time you want to go shopping, or the language is a problem, or you are worried about security, or, or, or…, life will be difficult no matter how beautiful your house is.
Bottom line, check everything out thoroughly well in advance.
Obviously there are many, many things to look out for when purchasing a property in Italy. You can find another comprehensive video on the subject here.
Your best bet is to align yourself with experts whenever possible. We here at Super Savvy Travelers have found many great experts in all different fields. We have gotten great results thus far.
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