Buying property abroad can be a magical experience, but it’s a minefield if you’re not suitably well-versed in local laws, regulations and processes. In Italy in particular, timelines can get very drawn out and are complicated by bureaucracy.
So — how do you get all the upsides of buying your dream home in Italy, while navigating the restrictions and avoiding the pitfalls? The short answer, at least according to Michael Hobbs of Appassionata, is what’s called a “fractional ownership.”
Hobbs has been successfully leading Appassionata Fractional Ownership since 2009, and is a firm believer in the concept as the future of owning a holiday home abroad. Though there are some similarities to timeshare, Michael asserts that the distinguishing factor for fractional ownership is that you have true ownership of your share in the property, with the ability to sell it at any time.
Here, Italy Magazine quizzes Hobbs about when fractional ownership is a sensible decision for you, what trends and changes he’s seeing in people’s buying habits when it comes to second homes in Italy, and how it all works for those on a tourist visa.
Michael Hobbs on the savvy way to achieve your Italian property dream
Italy Magazine: In your opinion, what are the real benefits of fractional ownership and in what situations does it work well for people?
Michael Hobbs: More and more people are now considering fractional ownership as a real alternative to buying a holiday home. It’s more cost effective in terms of the purchase and running costs, and it’s ideal for third nation owners who are limited to how much time they can stay in Italy (90 days out of 180). Since Covid-19, purchasers have been looking for their own safe and private spaces. We also have a lot of owners with Italian backgrounds who have seen this as a perfect way to buy a property in their home country and embrace their heritage.
IM: What kind of trends are you seeing in terms of the people going for this option?
MH: The people buying shares in Appassionata properties are financially savvy: They get the concept and see this as a practical and sensible way of owning and enjoying a luxury property overseas without the hassle, complications and expense associated with full ownership. We are a small, family-run business and our owners really appreciate our hands-on service and attention to detail. It is very important to all of us that our owners are happy and relaxed during their stay here in Le Marche, and have no worries about care and maintenance of their home, gardens and pool when they are not in residence.
IM: Why is it a “financially savvy” decision, in your opinion?
MH: So much of the appeal of fractional ownership involves the hedging and distribution of risk and downside. Meanwhile, the sharing economy enables people to use what they want, when they want, without having to truly own the whole property. You buy the weeks you are actually going to use each year, without the costs (and headaches) of looking after an empty property all year round. As with most real estate purchases, fractional ownership also has the potential to provide a return on your investment.
IM: Are there any security benefits?
MH: The houses are fully maintained and occupied throughout the year — making them more secure than a fully owned holiday home — where owners use the houses for only four to six weeks a year. With traditional holiday house ownership you also have all the running costs, maintenance issues and security to worry about.
IM: Are there any pitfalls people should be aware of?
MH: It’s important to note that the specifics of fractional ownership can vary depending on the program or company involved. It’s advisable to thoroughly research and carefully review any contracts or agreements before deciding to participate in a fractional ownership program. Look for companies with a proven track record of happy owners over many years. Appassionata has that track record.
IM: Since Brexit, what has changed for British people looking to buy property in Italy?
MH: The new rules for UK citizens put them in the same position as many “third country visitors” (Americans, Canadians, Australians and so forth) who visit Italy each year. Essentially, you can stay 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area (which includes Italy). After a 90-day stay in the Schengen area, the person must immediately leave the Schengen area for another 90 days before they are able to return to Italy for another 90 days. The 180-day reference period is not fixed. It therefore limits the time you can spend in your holiday home, and the months in which you may wish to come. It does make a very compelling case for owning a holiday home through fractional ownership for anyone who is limited by the number of days they can spend on the ground in Italy each year.
IM: What makes the Appassionata model unique and why do you think this is the future of home ownership abroad for many people?
MH: Appassionata is one of Europe’s longest standing and inspiring fractional ownership companies; we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary this year. Appassionata offers luxury Italian living to over 60 property co-owners worldwide. Since its launch in 2009, Appassionata has purchased, developed, designed, furnished, and sold shares in six beautifully appointed unique properties, all in southern Le Marche. Often described as all of Italy wrapped up into one region.
The business is boutique in nature and style, family run and aimed at like-minded people who want to experience real Italy and a luxurious lifestyle. We are not a large faceless corporation; our philosophy is to exceed the owner's expectations and only be there when needed.
Fractional ownership has revolutionized the way people own holiday homes, allowing individuals to fulfill their getaway dreams without the daunting financial commitments and responsibilities of sole ownership. As fractional ownership continues to gain popularity, it promises a path to luxurious holiday experiences that were once only accessible to a privileged few.
Based in Italy’s Le Marche region, Appassionata has 15 years’ experience, 6 luxury projects and over 60 owners under their belt. The company offers the unique opportunity for 10 or 12 people to collectively and securely own a luxury holiday home in Italy.
Visit the website or get in touch by contacting Appassionata via email@example.com or by phone (+44 (0)7711776440) to find out more information about their properties.