Words by Carla Passino
Second homes are one of the backbones of Italy’s property market and could become key to the recovery of the Italian tourist sector. Or so states Italian estate agent body FIAIP, which, together with economic intelligence body NOMISMA, produced a study on the second home market in the country.
Speaking at a conference in Venice, FIAIP president Paolo Righi said that "only through the expansion and integration of hospitality offer through second homes it will be possible to kickstart the national tourism system." There are more than three million second homes in Italy, which do not currently play a part in the national tourism industry but which, properly integrated, could represent another way to draw visitors into the country, according to FIAIP.
But second homes are also one of the engines keeping Italy’s property market afloat. Despite the credit crunch, which affected the 40% of Italian buyers who turn to mortgages to fund their second home purchases, the holiday home segment is still holding firm.
Supply grew by 7.2% in 2009, drawing mostly Italian buyers (80% of the total) but also European ones (9.3%) with an eye for smaller homes - the majority purchased properties of less than 60 square metres.
Values remained stable throughout the country. Prestige properties in Italy's six most sought after locations - Madonna di Campiglio, Courmayeur, Santa Margherita Ligure, Forte dei Marmi, Capri and Porto Rotondo - all recorded prices of 10,000 euros per square metre or more, in line with the most expensive corners of Rome and Milan.
In particular, the thriving ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, in Trentino Alto Adige, saw values increase at every rung of the property ladder, from premium homes in the town centre to cheaper ones on the outskirts. Prices in town now range from a minimum of 5,500 euros per square metre for the most affordable homes up to 14,000 euros per square metre for the best new builds and luxury resales.
Looking at the other top five resorts, prices remained unchanged in Courmayeur, Forte dei Marmi, Capri and Porto Rotondo and decreased by a limited amount in Santa Margherita Ligure.
In more moderately priced locations, average values were stable, but three resorts - Jesolo Lido in Veneto, Lignano Sabbiadoro in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Cefalù in Sicily - all recorded rises.
Looking ahead, FIAIP and Nomisma expect second home prices to decline marginally in every value bracket and virtually every resort across the country. However, the decrease is likely to be smaller for premium homes or those situated in central locations (the forecast is -1,50% and -2,25% respectively) and higher for those in the outskirts (-3.15%). The resorts of Santa Margherita Ligure, Termoli, Policoro and Vieste are more likely to be affected by the drop, while Amalfi and Lido di Jesolo should buck the trend and see modest rises.