If you are like me, you spend both waking and sleeping hours dreaming about living in Italy. Of course, as with most dreams, logistics soon get in the way.
This is where real estate expert Nikki Taylor comes in. Knowing that buying property in Italy is hard but not impossible, Australian expat Taylor has made it her mission to help many of us who struggle with all the details and paperwork of buying a home in Italy.
Italy Property Consulting
After working for 6+ years in Italy, first as a marketing assistant with luxury real estate company Engel & Völkers in northern Italy and then as a Business Development Director for a real estate outfit in Puglia, Taylor launched her own company. Italy Property Consulting helps connect international homebuyers with their dream home in Italy.
In addition to her business, Taylor runs a free, private Facebook group, where she and thousands of other group members share Italian real estate listings and tips, including contact info for mortgage brokers, property managers, and more.
Win a Turnkey House in Puglia!
Italy Property Consulting is currently sponsoring the Love Notes to Italy contest which is giving away a turnkey property in Ostuni, Puglia. Check out the contest and good luck!
Interview with Nikki Taylor of Italy Property Consulting
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Nikki Taylor about the process of buying a home in Italy and she had some very helpful answers. I was especially interested in asking her questions from the point of view of an American homebuyer since the process for non-EU residents is even more difficult and complicated. My lightly-edited Q&A with Taylor is below.
ITALOFILE: I read that you first began living and working in Italy in 2014. And, I understand you are Australian. So, did you arrive in Italy with a work visa or did that come later? Did Engel & Völkers sponsor your visa? I am always curious how non-EU people are able to get the right to work in Italy as it has always sounded quite difficult.
NIKKI TAYLOR: It was pretty straightforward for me to live and work in Italy as I have dual citizenship with the UK and I arrived here long before Brexit and obtained my permanent residency.
What is the typical timeline for a person who wishes to buy property in Italy? From location selection to move in…
There is no set timeline as such as it could take a while to find a property that you really love and then the closing time does not always depend on how quickly you can close the deal. The sellers might have their own timeline in which to vacate and this all needs to be negotiated at the time of making the offer. I have seen deals close in 6 weeks and others take nearly a year!
Your contest is giving away a house in Puglia, which has long been an “up and coming” region for international home buyers/investors. What other areas are up-and-coming areas for international property buyers? Why?
I really love the Lower Salento part of Puglia. It has not taken off as quickly as Upper Salento, it’s more of a slow burner but there is a lot of potential down there. The properties are absolutely magnificent, full of character and quite a few have these gorgeous internal gardens and spacious roof terraces and the prices are not crazy (yet). The beaches down there are gorgeous. It is definitely growing with interest from international buyers.
Do international investors pay attention to the annual “Best Places to Live in Italy” lists from Il Sole 24 and La Sapienza? Do you ever see a ripple effect from these “best” lists?
I talk about these “Best Places to Live in Italy” lists during my training sessions. But, to be honest, it really does not impact people’s choices so much. People have in their own minds what is their best quality of life, and it does not necessarily need to be on a specific list. Milan was at the top of the list at one stage but living in an extremely bustling chaotic city might not be classified as having the best quality of life in Italy for some. So, it really depends on the individual and their objectives.
How effective are these 1 Euro houses at luring people to Italy? Has it helped or hurt your business?
I have nothing good to say about these properties. It’s a clever marketing scheme and also a money pit. The hidden costs add up plus the amount it would cost you to restore the property you could be spending well over 50k and very unlikely that you would recoup that money if you had to sell it as the properties are located in super quiet towns with next to no tourism. The properties have a lot of restrictions attached,—what you can and can’t do—and most require you to be living in the property and utilize it as your main residence as the aim is to repopulate the towns. So that takes the idea of Airbnb-ing it out of the equation. There are also many restrictions attached with restoration and the timeline for that. So, honestly, I would run away from them. There are plenty of properties for sale in Italy in desirable towns and regions for less than 50k and do not come with the multitude of headaches and bureaucracy that the €1 homes have.
I have read that property ownership in Italy entitles one to a resident visa. Is this true? If so, how soon can one apply for that visa (After putting a down payment on a house? After full purchase? After move-in?) What is the legal process for purchasing a home in Italy?
No that is not true. Owning a property does not qualify you to have residency. I am not a visa expert so am not able to answer any visa-related questions.
We once tried to get a mortgage in Italy but were turned down because we did not have an Italian bank account. This was strange because we had the assets and could prove it. How do international buyers overcome this hurdle? Do they really have to establish a banking presence in Italy before purchasing property there?
I have a mortgage broker that I connect my clients with, and most do not have a bank account in Italy. In fact, they set it up once the mortgage has gone through. You do not need a bank account to purchase in Italy.
(Editor’s Note: The Local Italy just updated its piece How can a non-EU citizen get a mortgage to buy property in Italy?, which provides even more answers.)
I suppose this question feeds from the last one: how are property taxes assessed and handled?
I am not an accountant so I cannot give specific advice, but I will say that anything tax-related it pays to speak to a qualified individual. Taxes in Italy can be a minefield and the regulations change regularly, hence always best to seek advice from a qualified professional.
What about utilities? What utilities can be expected? Are there any utilities that are required or expected in Italy that may not be required elsewhere?
There are special utilities like TARI/IMU which are in relation to waste disposal and annual property taxes. If you buy a property in a condominium there will be a monthly condominium fee plus the usual utilities like water, gas, electricity, and internet.
The same question but with insurance. Almost all of Italy is earthquake-prone, so is earthquake insurance required on top of other home insurance?
There is not such a thing as bespoke earthquake insurance however I am not an insurance specialist.
What’s the best way to search for property in Italy? Real estate websites? Are there English-language listings for Italian properties?
Ideally, all of the people reading this interview will go to you for their Italian real estate needs. But let’s say you can’t take on any more clients—what should a foreigner who wants to buy property in Italy look for in a real estate agent? Is there a formula for finding a reputable one?
There is no such formula. Unfortunately, there are many estate agents who do not practice in an ethical manner. I have met a fair share in my time in the industry and have come across some really lovely agents who put their clients first and don’t just think of the sale. But there is no specific formula. If anyone reading this interview is looking to purchase property, they are welcome to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or join my free Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/howtoconfidentlybuypropertyinitalyliveladolcevita
How can a foreign buyer evaluate the value and pricing of real estate in Italy?
The property portal Immobiliare has a section where it details the average price per square metre in the different regions.
Is now a good time for foreigners (particularly Americans) to buy property in Italy? Why or why not?
Now is a great time to purchase property in Italy! Usually, the wintertime before the summer season starts is the best time. When it gets warmer, and tourists come on holidays and buying trips, the prices tend to rise.
Can I enter your Ostuni contest now that I have interviewed you? I really want to live in Puglia!
Yes sure, the competition is not being judged by me but by an independent panel of judges from NIAF. Best of luck to you for your entry note!