I am currently living in America and am

Sarasota Image
01/15/2019 - 13:35

I am currently living in America and am seeking to purchase a property in the Liguria region around San Remo in the hinterland. I know the area really well as I spend some of my childhood there. I am a British citizen. I suppose nobody knows what's going to happen with the Brexit deal regarding EU citizenship and the rest.  One question, why are there so many properties listed for sale for a long period of time? Does nobody want to buy them or is there something wrong with the area that I don't know about? Just wondering... 



Where are you looking? A lot of houses are for sale for a long time throughout Italy and like anywhere in the world, usually for a reason. Some example would be good to look at and comment on the likely reason(s). However, some are just overpriced, need too much work, are abusive or in an awful location.

Looking in Bordighera, Ospedaletti, San Remo area. These towns are near the sea and have good transportation. i'm looking under 200,000 euros and there are properties that have been sitting for sale for months! In USA at the moment, properties are selling quickly. France is hot too.  

 There are many properties in Italy that  stay on the market for a long time, due to the owners thinking that they know best how to sell their property, but in Liguria in seaside towns like  Bordighera, Ospedaletti, San Remo are special areas in which any real estate has a premium price. I have obviously not seen the properties that you refer to but I would wager that any property in Bordighera, Ospedaletti or San Remo that has not sold quickly is due to having an ambitious price. Properties in those areas will sell eventually so the owner’s strategy will be to price it high and wait – instead of seeking professional advice and pricing it at market rate and selling it in a reasonable time period. It is a bit mad really.   

We bought in Abruzzo over 8 years ago and were looking at places for 2 years, some of these are still for sale now. A quick look at properties on Righmove for that area there are a lot of apartments (not what we looked at) and prices seem what I would expect based on their condition and location. But please note "price" in Italt is does not equate to sale cost in any shape or form of that in the UK. Get as much information as you can, read as much on forums on buying, get a cheap book on the subject and use it to research more on taxes, permissions, ownership and most of all offers...wink

My unscientific answer is that most Italians don't need to buy a house. They inherit one, sometimes even more than one.  Most Italians are not interested in buying a property in an area where they were not born or have close ties.  In short, there is very little in the way of a "domestic market" for home buying and selling, and until very recently, property taxes were incredibly low, so not much incentive to cut the price to sell a house one might have inherited.  Unlike many other housing markets, sellers do not invest a lot in refurbishing a house to attract buyers, and buyers don't expect it.  So if a house is sitting on the market for 2 or 3 years collecting dust, there is still no impetus to cut the price or improve the property. There is not a competitive market that gives an advantage to the seller for making those moves.Foreign buyers often find the process of buying property in Italy extremely daunting.  In some areas of Italy very popular with foreign tourists there are consortiums and companies that notably streamline and simplfy the process, or hold hands through every step of the process.  But as you know, the area where you are looking is spotty in that regard -- there are a few enclaves in the Ligurian entroterra where foreigners have bought up a lot of property (Belgians in particular I believe, other far north Europeans).  Areas around Bordighera used to be extremely popular with "Brits," but that was the last century! I know a non-Italian married couple who years ago fell in love with the area where you are looking but ended up crossing the border into France to buy a house because the process of buying property was so much more straightforward there (and between them they spoke about 6 languages and had lived in several different countries).   But i am very sympathetic to your desires.  It is a quite beautiful area of the world and prices for charming small houses can be astonishingly inexpensive -- at least at first blush.  Who knows what it ultimately does to your pocket book once you factor in renovation, car purchase etc.  It that part of Italy it is sometimes necessary to hire helicopters to deliver materials to property renovtions in farms and towns perched on those vertiginous hillsides. good luck! 

Thank you for your honest opinion. I used to live in France but never bought a property. It does seem daunting to buy in Italy when you don't understand the procedures or culture. I spent part of my childhood in that area of Italy and would love to buy a second home there. I live in a beautiful area of Florida, USA but it doesn't have the charm of Italy! 

Sarasota ,if you are really interested in buying in Italy, supporting Brexit, I, in your place, would take the elective residence in Italy. So, when you find the house of your dreams, at the right price, even if the Brexit had the result dear to Mrs. May, you buy with the privileges of the first house in Italy (2% of purchase tax, instead 10%) and do not pay the IMU tax every year ...

I do not mean , live as turist 90 days for year - i mean live more THAN 90 days - and buy paying the 2% of the purchase tax instead 10% - of the property commercial value , not pay yearly tax on property , buy a car  , pay decreased bill for electricity .. and so on .. -

HI there,Am a New Yorker with a French citizenship ;) Have been living (and hunting for real estate) in Liguria for almost 15 years and, totally agree with you: properties hang out for sale for a very long time. The issues I have been faced with which could be part of the problem are- Abusi: the surface never matches the declared registry (catasto) and many refuse to pay for 100Sqm when they are really buying 65.- Also, the real estate market has gone down a lot in the past 8 years and many owners refuse to align their request to the actual market value...- Agents and websites tend to give false info. Do a lot of internet research and you will find huge differences of pricing for one same property, location is never as mentioned (we once asked to visit a property said to be in Finale and ended turning around because the house was actually in Calizzano! that's almost Piemonte, lol). So customers probably get discouraged. Have literally worked with most agents from Albisola to San Remo and only one was good. Feel free to reach out if you need any support :)Take care

In reply to by lizkd

Yes, i think it's so daunting. don't know if it's even worth it. What's the point if you can't sell it when you want! i'd be dead before it sells! Did you actually buy a property in the end(after the 15 years!) and do you like living there. I used to live in rhode island so used to the Italian mentality but not sure if i want to get involved. I would have thought that Liguria would be easier to do things than Sicily for example!

In reply to by lizkd


I am a New Yorker too.  We are looking to buy an apartment Sanremo, and we would like to start working with a good agent who knows well that area.  Can you please provide me with a contact to the one you have worked with?  Thanks so much!

How much space do you need and how much time do you plan to spend each year in Italy?  If you look at all the financial implications of living full-time in Italy -- taxes, health insurance costs post-Brexit, you might find it financially attractive to rent for some months of the year rather than buy.  Especially in the area you are looking at, rents for attractive furnished apartments can be low.  Many landlords offering holiday apartments would be thrilled to have a tenant from, say, October-Feb only, and might give you a nice deal (so long as you pay for utilities).  As for the "italian mentality", not sure how that gets identified in Rhode Island (never having lived there), but there is really almost no place in Italy where you can go anymore where you would find the kind of expat colonies of English-speakers one finds in Spain or Portugal or perhaps parts of France, where local Italian culture is co-equal or is dominated by English-speakers.  It would be easier to find if you were Russian, acutally! Or Chinese or perhaps from Africa.  Once upon a time quite a few towns all along Liguria had significant enclaves of British expats, well established, and there were lots of amenities for them: All-English libraries, pharmacies, churches, cemeteries, tennis and golf clubs -- the whole pot of tea.   But after the devastating World wars, the British never returned in large numbers, and were supplanted by different holiday makers, mostly Italian. Americans rarely even go as tourists to the parts of Liguria closest to France.  Sicilian culture in my experience is less integrated into overall Italian national culture -- there is a firm sense of Sicilian identity "first" that reminds me of talking to Texans --so it is a bit more exotic -- although I find Palermo to be a very cosmopolitan and sophisticated place.  

Not looking for English pubs in Italy, i want full italian, that's why I want to buy there otherwise i might as well go back to the U.K. or buy in Spain. After having lived in USA for nearly 20 years now, i really want a complete break from American culture as well, if that is possible?  

Oh yes, certainly possible to escape American culture in Italy! And in the part of Liguria where you are looking you will rarely encounter Americans.  I wasn't understanding what you meant about mentalities and Rhode Island, etc.  All that said, young Italians do want to experience some of the trendy and untraditional things that are popular in America.  Avocodos and craft beer were nowhere to be found when I moved to Italy, and now my tiny fruttivendola stocks them.  But if you stay out of the places most popular with American tourists, you will not only have escaped America but quite a big chunk of today's homogenized global corporate culture.

America is making me sick. the food, corporate culture and the drugs and shootings. When we used to go to Italy as children, my father always used to pay the local kids to watch his car. We always exchanged our money outside the bank, never inside! and other things too that i never understood. When i went to live in Rhode Island, i ended up working and living with a lot of Italo-Americans. The mafia was big there and traces of it remains. Mayor in prison for extortion, having to pay people to get building permits, etc.... Everybody loves the Italians in the USA!

Hi there,You find good and bad everywhere I'd say. The best way to describe life here is : Liguria is a time warp! It's like France in the 70s/80s! Liguria is beautiful and close to literally everything from Firenze to France so it's convenient in many ways. It's like everywhere else in the world...depends on your lifestyle, how you deal with stress, your budget, if you can travel in and out of the country often, if you are retiring here...or planning on working here, who you know...people are def not as friendly as in the US and it takes literally 10 years for your neighbors to say hello but, if you are hesitating between going back to the UK or coming to Liguria, would certainly recommend Liguria. Nicer lifestyle ;)To answer your question, living here is ok but, I travel a lot for work so, I come and go which makes it easier. However, when I stay home for more than 3 months...I get a bit frustrated.We purchased a few times, investments. It was exhausting. We are currently hunting for our future residence which is a whole other story. You need to be on top of everything, all the time. Double check everything. Things are never what they seem. If you are looking to buy an apartment (and not a house), consider a top floor. You don't want anybody above you.But you get used to everything! And this seems to be your dream so, it could be everything you want it to be! And San Remo has a few good agents (can recommend one if needed) who speak foreign languages and work with an international crowd. Good luck and feel free to reach out if I can help :) 

Right? The top floor is a must!We were lucky enough to get an "all in one" type of family above us: a carpenter who sets up his woodworking in the apt, a kid who seems to enjoy the soft sounds of banging pans on the floor, the throwing out of cigarettes / watering of plants just when white sheets are drying outside, a dog who was granted the gift of non-stop barking...oh and one of them learned how to play only 1 tune on the piano and performs it for us every single day.As for added value, it seems as if they might have cams set up in our apt to make sure the noise they make is perfectly aligned to whichever room we decide to spend time in. Fun times! :)

I lived in rural south of France in the 90's where they still slaughtered a pig to make saucisson in their houses! Now, it's full of Parisians. That is what i want to experience again!! not Montecarlo! I went to Rome this summer and it was way too busy for me but enough to give me that taste of Italy again. Love it. 

Simply because each area we have been to is different but still very Italian in the way you seem to like (as we do). We ended up in Abruzzo mainly because it was cheaper than the other areas we looked at. I'm sure if we looked at some of the areas we did not visit we would find differences and more things to like. Obviously it would be best to visit in person, but with things like google street view you can do a virtual tour, even if you can't smell the coffee!

Getting back to your original question.....the area that you like (west Liguria) is a good area, there are also many other good areas, almost no end to good Italian areas ....but if you like Liguria, try there first....the idea of renting for a year is a very good,...that way you get to know the market dynamic better. Basically as a general rule any asking  price is to be taken with a pinch of salt and an offer of 10% less than the asking price is a serious offer, which usually gets accepted. Properties that have been on the market too long (if they are over priced) deserve offers of 30% less than the asking price, or maybe even a lower price, it needs evaluation. In some areas like Monferrato (which is very nice, but not beside the sea) it is common for a property to sell for 30% less than the asking price, because there is much less demand. It is a no brainer - that if a property is on the market for a long time it is because there is no demand for a property like that with that price.......therefore if you like the property and do your Due Diligence  - then make an offer that seems realistic to you but well under the asking price.   

I am selling a country villa with pool in the hinterland of Savona if you are interested. The beaches are much more beautiful than the Imperia area. Savona is a nice city too. My house is 15 mins from Albisola riviera and 1.5 hrs from the ski slopes. 40 mins from Airport. Imperia is very far . I am trying to put in the ad on this website but can't find where to click. The houses
( including mine) have been on the market for a long time since the 2011 recession. We are slowly picking up again. No one wants to invest any more and prices have gone down. I am also a British citizen and would like to return to the UK after 30 yrs of living here. Brexit has nothing to do with it and once you have residence in Italy little will change.

Yes. It is on the market at 400.000 greatly reduced just like all the rest! The house is in perfect condtion it's key in hand property. And includes a separate "summer house" with good B&B potential
I could send you a link or email but I don't know if it is allowed seeing as I have just had a reply from the mag and advertising has a monthly cost- I shall no doubt get my villa on this mag in spring. In thw meantime if you just google " villa con piscina a Pontinvrea" you should be able to view it.

There are many lovely places to live in the entroterra this end of Liguria. Lots of villages and hill villages that retain an authentic Italian lifestyle and welcome international second home owners. We have had a second home inland from Vallecrosia for 16 years and still love the area.Things are organised by the valleys that run in from the coastal towns. There is a great deal of choice. It depends what you like and what  type of property interests you eg village apartment, country house with land or coast apartment. Stunning views, a renovation project or something modernised already...I would say your budget for central Bordighera is too small unless you want something tiny.The market has been slow for a few years. Young people cannot get mortgages.. Many second home owners are aging and their children aren’t interested so there is a lot for sale. Don’t assume there is anything wrong with properties. There are many nice ones and everything is negotiable..Not so many buyers in the market.some areas have attracted particular nationalities eg Dutch, German or Danish. Others are very mixed. Many of the hill towns have interesting summer music festivals so that is worth looking out forHappy to give any general advice on areas. Keep looking. The bustle of SanRemo can be nicer at a distance.