Whether you’ve come to visit once or are a regular visitor, it might have crossed your mind – what if I bought a home in Italy? How would it work? How difficult is the process? While not everyone has a huge budget to splash out on a country villa, there is another viable option to making the dolce vita an actual reality, and that's to explore the possibility of buying a house via auction. Keep in mind that it is becoming ever more common to buy a home in this manner. It can indeed offer excellent investment opportunities for all kinds of buyers, even in popular places such as Tuscany, Rome, or by the sea.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Julie and Nicola of https://www.livingitalyrealestate.com/, an international consulting firm that runs a service offering tailored support by an in-house team of agent/property consultants, surveyors & attorneys created to help foreigners bid (and win!) at Italian auctions. They are always happy to spend time discussing your property requirements and when something suitable has been found they will take you through the auction process following an easy and tailored approach.
What I respect most about them is that their approach is driven by their International experience and lessons learned over a lifetime as they have called many places around the world "home." To really offer a service like this, in my opinion, you need to experience firsthand the process of confronting language barriers and cultural misunderstandings.
My conversation with Julie helped dispel many of my thoughts about who was eligible to participate and how it all works, so here are six reasons why buying under auction could be a great option to owning a home in Italy.
You don’t have to be in Italy to purchase the home
It can be incredibly daunting even to start searching for your dream home without actually living in the country (and truth be told if you call said country home!). There are overwhelming options online and sometimes, the advice from well-meaning folks can be confusing at best. This is why we would most definitely not recommend doing it "alone" and roping in some trained professionals to help you find that perfect home (if it's the right option for you, of course) even if you're not able to visit before you buy.
If you hire the right professionals, they can walk you through every single step, see properties on your behalf and send all of the pertinent information always taking the time to provide constant feedback on what the right option is for you. This is important even before moving forward to submit your bid so that you get to know the full due diligence and costs beforehand.
The best part is that (also due to COVID) most auctions are held online so that you can be connected remotely anywhere in the world with a simple click of a button. Like the Living Italy team, a hired professional can act on your behalf to bid and participate in the auction and support you the entire way until you get your keys in hand. Then all you have to do is plan your bella Italia future with friends and family.
It’s easier and more affordable than you think
Forget about blind auctions because in Italy you can actually visit the property before you decide to move forward with your bid. It’s a straightforward process if you have the right professionals guiding you during the pre, during, and post-auction phases.
Now that you know that the process itself isn’t as daunting as you might think (with the help of the right professionals). What about the costs?
The prices at auction often vary wildly, and most of the time, you can save thousands of euros on the property purchase price with an average discount of 60%. That surprised me as I would have imagined that the margins were much smaller due to the current housing market in popular destinations like Tuscany, Umbria, or Lombardy.
Prices for homes can start from around €6,000 as a minimum offer to villas with luxury features such as vineyards and pools for just a few hundred thousand. For example, one duplex apartment in one of Tuscany's most attractive areas was sold at a very attractive price of €36,000. This makes it much easier to save for the mandatory 20% down payment and fees incurred afterward. Naturally, you'll need to budget for the process of buying a home in Italy and all that comes with it, but this is where hiring true professionals matters. They can take care of the nitty-gritty and give you honest, regular feedback throughout the process. Just know you have more options than you might think, even if your budget isn't super high.
Options can be everything from a small second vacation home in a big city to a large villa/castle in the suburbs
One might assume that properties available at auction are probably not in good condition or located in the middle of nowhere. While, of course, you can find fixer-uppers all over the boot, you would be very surprised to note that there are so many incredible options at Italian auctions for every need, want, and desire. Of course, not everyone can maintain a large property in the countryside, and at the same time, perhaps a tiny apartment sounds a little suffocating.
The truth is that you’ll discover everything from a small, chic pied-a-terre two-bedroom apartment located in a bustling Italian city like Rome or Milan to Tuscan farmhouses complete with vineyards, apartments overlooking the sea, or even mountain chalets!
You can search for properties on the Living Italy member’s area section, where they list new and desirable options in some of Italy's most attractive locations, often at rock bottom prices.
You don’t have to wait until you retire to follow your dream in Italy
Angie & Nick are a great example of one of Julie and Nico’s clients from the States who had a lifetime dream of buying a dream home in Tuscany. When they first started discussions about preferences, they mentioned that they thought their dream of owning a house in Italy could be possible in 15-20 years when they could retire, but actually, that wasn't necessary.
In just four months since they started to look for options, they are now celebrating having their Dolce Vita Dream achievement: a home in Tuscany located in the Unesco Heritage area of Val D’Orcia that is now their second home.
The process ended up possible far before their projected "retirement dream," and they are thrilled with the location in the center of the village, next to restaurants, shops, and services. The home is a townhouse valued at €75.000 and they were able to buy it at auction for just €36.000, saving 52% on the Market Purchase price.
It can be a seriously good investment
Denis always dreamed of owning an investment property that his family could use to generate consistent long-term income. As he was already based in Italy, it was possible to visit many different properties together when the Living Italy team.
Together, they were able to assess which property would have the highest return in investment and after finding the perfect apartment, they moved ahead and placed the bid by the auction date. They participated alongside five other people interested in the same property due to the attractive location and amenities.
The apartment had a starting price of €18.000 and a minimum counterbid of €1.000, and luckily for Denis, they successfully won the auction with a final price of €27.000. The apartment is located in Italy’s north and valued at €54.000, so they were able to save 50% on the market value price despite the competition at auction and ultimately achieved the family dream of having their investment property for a fraction of its cost.
The process can be stress-free with the right people
Greg & Lisa are examples of extraordinary clients who found the perfect home three months after their initial meeting with the Living Italy team. The idea was to live partially between their home country and Italy, and they were pretty clear with their preferences. Having bought foreclosed properties in the United States, they were familiar with the process, even when the Italian Auction Market offers many extra possibilities. For example, compared to the American market, you can visit the property yourself.
The process was pretty straightforward, with both Lisa & Greg flying to Italy to look for different options with the team and to start the deposit process supported by the in-house legal team once they found the place for them. The big surprise was that on the actual auction date, they were the only participants meaning that they were able to buy the house at the minimum offer requested, saving tons of money. In total, they saved over 79% on the market price, as their large villa had a market value of € 1.4M and they bought it for just €292.500.
Since then, the Living Italy team has kept in touch with Lisa and Greg, supporting the total settlement, with what I consider to be a top-level service regarding their personal approach. They make it their mission to help their clients get better familiarized with Italian life, as their support doesn’t stop once you get the keys to your new home. But it goes even further, including setting up utilities and even helping clients contact builders to move forward with renovations.
Since they have received the keys to their Italian house, the whole family has been visiting Verona (the area where the home is located) several times a year and as Julie and Nico say, this is one of the nicest outcomes of the entire process. Thanks to the right support, you can achieve your dream of living or buying in Italy, and if while doing It you can save tons of money, then absolutely yes!
Are you interested in learning more about what options are out there in Italy at local housing auctions? Visit Living Italy’s Instagram account and Website and join their database to view the latest properties in all sorts of desirable locations. You could be in your dream home in Italy in no time! Drop them an email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.