2011 has been another healthy year. Spring and early summer saw a number of purchase decisions made and then once again autumn was really busy. Overall it looks as though there have been more sales concluded in 2011 than the previous year, although the shape of the market has been a little different.
– We have for the first time seen significant interest from the Middle East. The Arab Spring has caused a lot of individuals to wonder where they should be based longer term.
– There was enthusiasm for properties requiring significant renovation work. A number of properties that had been on the market for some time were sold in the final quarter of 2011. We have long said that properties requiring significant work can offer great value and clients have the confidence that we can manage this for them.
– The average price of properties sold in the second half of the year was significantly higher than in the first half.
– The higher value purchasers really emerged towards the end of the year. The spread of nationalities with serious intent to buy was much more broadly based.
– A healthy number of properties became available for off-market sales. The desire for discretion remains strong, especially where the desire to sell is driven by family financial considerations.
– Indecisive buyers have often seen their opportunity vanish as someone more decisive has come along.
– Property prices have remained stable or increased a little. There are few sellers who are prepared to take significant discounts (around 5% has been typical). Overpriced properties simply do not shift – buyers are not foolish.
Fortunes for 2012
The astonishing headlines about the Euro over the past 6 months have caused some clients to defer their plans for buying. We do not believe that there is an imminent risk of the Euro collapsing, nor of Italy withdrawing (voluntarily or otherwise). It is likely to take a long time to sort out the economic issues troubling the Euro and we expect it to remain weak at least for the next few months. As soon as the world begins to think that the Eurozone has addressed its issues then the Euro is likely to move out of the doldrums and property prices in Italy will rise for those outside the Eurozone. We have written a note on the Euro and ways to protect your property transaction – which you can request by email.
Of immediate note is the increase in property purchase taxes in Italy introduced in the austerity budget in the second half of the year. This provides a very good reason to make a purchase sooner rather than later in order to save paying higher Italian taxes.
We have seen significant demand from a much wider range of countries over 2011 and expect this to continue through 2012. We already have quite a list of clients wanting to find their property on Lake Como in the first half of 2012 and we expect to see a busy year again, whatever the fluctuating fortunes of the Euro.
While sellers are rarely prepared to discount their asking price by more than 5% at best, there are some very realistically-priced properties around, including some particularly good off-market opportunities above the €3m level.
Some of the quality builders have new apartments and villas completing in the first half of 2012 at very attractive prices. Those prepared to buy before completion not only tend to find more attractive pricing but also have the advantage of being able to specify their bathrooms, kitchens and lots of other aspects of the finishes. With the scarcity of Italian purchasers in the market this places international buyers in a slightly stronger position.
The other place where real value is to be found is in properties requiring more than decorative work. Several of our clients found bargains here in 2011 and we expect strong interest in properties requiring renovation as the capital gain can be very attractive and the end result of course is the way you want it, not somebody else’s tastes. There are some real bargains to be found. With limited space for new properties which have the sought after attributes of sunshine, quiet, privacy, great lake views and ample parking we expect clients increasingly to favour upgrading older properties to achieve exactly what they want.
Undoubtedly demand is strong from international buyers and the supply of properties is limited by topography and planning restrictions. Lake Como has been popular for centuries (from Pliny to Byron and Churchill to Clooney) and its reputation continues to grow. The relentless upward progression in prices is surely set to continue and there seems every reason not to defer a decision to find that ideal home.
In 2011 we won the award for Best Property Finder Italy. It is testament to the effort we put in to simplify the whole process for finding and buying a home, making it easy for busy clients. 90% of or clients found their home on their first visit to view properties we had found for them, and 100% of accepted offers proceeded to successful completion. Busy people have found time and again that our professional service delivers their dream without any difficulty. Already it is looking as though we will be very busy again in 2012. Our time is starting to become booked up, and if you are thinking of having a home on Lake Como there are plenty of reasons for contacting us sooner rather than later.