What to do BEFORE buying a house in Italy

Before buying a house in Italy blog header image of Santa Maria Delle Grazie church in Galatina

Before making an investment in anything it’s important to do your due diligence. Which, in this case, is researching and understanding the Italian property market. Here’s my list of what I researched, how I did it and where I got my information from. All very important before buying a house in Italy.

If you’re like me and have always dreamed of living the la dolce vita lifestyle in your own Italian villa in an historic building somewhere in Italy. Then you’re going to love this series of blogs. During the pandemic I bought a fourteenth century house in Southern Italy and this blog series is how I did it. I share every step to show you that if I can do it, then you certainly can too.

Follow along on my journey either via YouTube or here on the blog and subscribe to be notified as each one is released.

OK, So, here are my five preliminary research steps I believe you must do before anything else when buying a house in Italy.

You may be able to add to these and please do so in the comments below. Let’s help each other out.

OK let’s go.

What type of Italian property do you want

This is a very important decision to make. Is this property in Italy going to be your Italian dream home for you to live in permanently? Or an investment you can rent out or put on Airbnb? Getting clear on this BEFORE you start looking at properties is going to make it a whole lot easier. It is possible to do both in Italy.

Yes, you can potentially live in Italy by applying for residency. Or there is also a retirement visa opportunity that exists with residents from most countries. I guess it depends on where you are at in your life.

The residency can seem like a lengthy and complicated process and maybe I’ll do a blog on that in the future but for now, just know that you can have a house in Italy as an investment or for you to live in. You just need to decide which one is the right option for you BEFORE you start looking at properties.

Farm House to buy in Tuscany Italy
Farm House to buy in Tuscany Italy

What region in Italy do you want to buy house

There are sooooo many beautiful locations in Italy to choose from. You could live in the mountains and enjoy hiking and skiing in the Dolomites every year. Or there’s the famous Tuscany region you could choose to live in with its rolling hills and wineries.

Or maybe you want ocean views. In which case you would need to choose which ocean you want to be viewing – the Adriatic sea or the Mediterranean sea, or the Tyrrhenian sea.

For me, I chose Salento in Southern Italy which is part of the more famous Puglia region. I chose Salento because of its warmer temperatures (I love summer), all three oceans to choose from on any given day. There’s also the architecture within its historic towns, and it’s a popular summer holiday destination for both international and Italian tourists.

I also then had to decide if I wanted to get a farm with olive trees or maybe even a vineyard, or an ocean front holiday destination town, or a historic town further inland. Then I had to ask myself, “Do you want to live in a city or a small or medium sized town?” I decided I wanted a historic town primarily for its architecture and history and one that has a bit of life to it (events happening) throughout winter so it had to be a medium sized town.

16210716 Map Of Apulia Italy
Map Of Apulia Italy

Get to know the different Italian towns

It doesn’t matter if you chose a town location or an olive farm. It still pays to research everything you can about the different towns within the region of your choice. What makes them special? What hidden treasures do they have?

Look for guides on the top 10 things to do in the different towns…e.g. Top 10 things to do in Lecce. What events do they have every year? Binge out on YouTube and really get to know the area. There are even virtual walking tours of a lot of towns. And there’s always Google street view to literally walk the streets.

I prefer to watch YouTube Travel Bloggers who tend to do the tourist areas but go off the beaten track a bit more as they give you more of a sense of what it’s really like. Have fun with it and enjoy exploring your new area.

Before buying a house in Italy research the local area and attractions
Before buying a house in Italy research the local area and attractions

Get really familiar with the Italian Property Market

Go to idealista.com and immobilaire.it and casa.it and gate-away.com. Look for properties around your budget but also above and below your budget to gain a full understanding of what’s possible. Get to know the property prices so that you will know a good value property when you see one.

The Italian market is very different to the Australian or American market because prices are set by the people selling the property and hence you can get quite a big diversity between the values of properties. You might even see a substantial difference in the properties prices on the same property (I saw one advertised for 10k difference).

If you’re open to renovating, have a look at what properties already renovated are currently selling for. This will give you an indication of what you will need to spend to get yours to that standard. As a rule of thumb, full and luxurious renovations generally cost 1k euro per square meter and 1.5k if including furniture.

Houses For Sale In Italy 35,000 Properties Gate Away®
Houses For Sale In Italy 35,000 Properties Gate Away®

Understand the Italian rental property market

In Italy long term rentals are a completely different set up than any other country I’ve been to. For example, contracts are often for 3 or more years. When purchasing a property in a foreign country it’s important to know and understand these differences.

Also, research Airbnb and similar sites so you can see what the holiday rental market is like and what you could potentially get as a return on your property if that’s what you wanted to do. This is of course if it’s an investment property you are looking for but also it’s good to know what it will cost you to stay in a place while yours is being renovated.

You won’t always be able to compare apples with apples though. In fact, it’s quite difficult to do in the Italian market as each property is so different. But by the end of the initial research phase you should have a real understanding of the area, the towns, the property market and then be able to make decisions on what town, what budget, and what you really want in your property.

Piazza Santo Oronzo And Anfiteatro Romano In Lecce
Piazza Santo Oronzo And Anfiteatro Romano In Lecce

What’s the next step in buying a house in Italy

Now that you’re familiar with the Italian property market. And you’ve made some decisions as to what type of property you want to buy in Italy. Now you’re ready to find the property of your dreams and that’s what I’ll be covering in my next blog.

Ciao for now.

Tegan xo

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