The long awaited announcement of the state-owned properties that are to be sold off to raise funds for the cash-strapped government has now been made. We eagerly anticipated opportunities to peruse a lengthy list of castles, grand stately homes and national monuments due to come under the auctioneer’s hammer.
What actually emerged has been hugely disappointing. The list so far is just nine properties, characterised by disused army barracks and other properties of no interest to our clients looking for a grand home in Italy at a bargain price. The few listed so far are well outside the requirements of our clients – in terms of style, location, size and the costs of renovation. So far not a lot to get excited about and we await the turning of the bureaucratic wheels to see whether this will be a great opportunity or an attempt to dispose of the truly unwanted.
The intention of the Italian government seemed clear. In addition to raising precious capital, the sell-off also reduces ongoing costs. The far more interesting story is that we are seeing the same beginning to happen at a more interesting level with family-owned properties.
As the financial belt is tightened and Italy begins to collect taxes due, as well as imposing higher property taxes, an increasing number of wealthy Italian families are contemplating selling houses that have been in the family for generations but are rarely used and represent an unwanted drain on their finances. The attachment to family properties runs deep in the Italian psyche, but for the first time their strong emotional attachment is being overcome by financial considerations.
Ultissimo has been approached by a small number of Italian families who are looking to sell wonderful homes, on Lake Como in particular, that have been in the family for generations. They realise the attraction of these historic homes to the international market and we understand the rarity and attraction of these opportunities.
Whereas previously families would only part with properties if someone offered an unrealistic sum, austerity is encouraging more realistic pricing. We have for example been approached by the owners of a wonderful historic building close to Como which traces its origins back to being a 15th century convent and before that a 13th century fortification. Offering wonderful lake views, tiered gardens and a considerable degree of privacy it is within a short walk of the facilities of a village and has a valuable boat mooring space available. The price is realistic, offering a great opportunity for an international client to acquire a quite extraordinary slice of history.
We think this trend that is set to continue and predict that for the international buyer looking for a wonderful historic home there will be a gentle flow of opportunities. Inevitably there will be some upgrading required, but with our background in property development Ultissimo can assure clients that projects will be carried out to international standards, with timescales and budget being closely controlled. And perhaps most importantly without our clients having to spend their scarce time worrying about the effective management and completion of the work.