Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy  a holiday home abroad

Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy a holiday home abroad

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The US dollar is at a thirty-year high against the British pound, and rightly so American jetsetters are casting their eye across the pond and setting their sights on trips abroad that will now see their money stretch a lot further.

With a reported 50% surge in stateside searches for UK accommodation, there could be a flurry of American travellers exploring Great Britain. However, for those looking to get off the beaten track of London sightseeing, and instead immerse themselves in authentic Italy – I say there has never been a better time to consider buying a fractional share in an Appassionata property!

Now I know what you’re thinking, our properties are based in Italy, which of course they are. But, the properties are actually owned by UK based non-trading companies, meaning they are priced in pounds’ sterling. Couple this with the fact that the fractional ownership buying process is also very straightforward and avoids all the complexities and substantial costs associated with purchasing a property outright in Italy – it’s a savvy option for discerning Americans to consider.

So, if you’re reading this from across the Atlantic, then I will leave you with a parting thought; prioritising a lifestyle investment like this now could see you afford a third more luxury for your money. Looking to your future, you will own a one tenth share in a stunning luxury property, giving you a picture-perfect family space for five weeks’ escapism each year – and it will last a lifetime.

To read more about our property on the market, Il Riposo, and to find out about our Fractional Ownership model head here, and I hope to see you on a discovery visit to Italy soon.

From connoisseurs to family groups, Italy calls out to travellers from across the globe

From connoisseurs to family groups, Italy calls out to travellers from across the globe

“Italy has everything – stunning beaches, snow-capped mountain ranges for winter sports, world-class cuisine that is both healthy and delicious, a culture steeped in art and intellectual pursuits, a sun-drenched climate… It really is one of the most attractive countries I can think of when it comes to a holiday destination.”

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So speaks Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs of luxury holiday home company Appassionata, based in Italy’s Le Marche region. And Dawn is certainly not alone in her view. The ENIT Italia survey has shown that tourist numbers were well up over the summer 2013 season, with individual tour operators reporting increases of as much as 40%.

Without question, Italy remains a top global holiday destination. From Rome’s ancient architecture, to the shopping streets of Milan, to the rural splendour, quaint medieval towns and beautiful beaches of Le Marche, Italy has such diversity that it never fails to charm and delight those who venture within its borders.

Food and wine are high up on the list of Italy’s attractions, with Virtuoso’s eighth annual Travel Dreams Survey recently identifying family pasta making lessons as one of the dream holidays for connoisseur travellers, who made up 21% of the survey’s respondents. Deb Gale, owner of a 1/10th share of Appassionata’s stunning fractional ownership property Casa Leopardi, nestled snuggling between the sparkling sea and the misty mountains, explains,

“You cannot help but love the food, the wine, the restaurants and the markets but images of our daughters and a recent fresh pasta making lesson in our farmhouse kitchen at Casa Leopardi lingers even longer.

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Those looking for town life will no doubt be drawn to Appassionata’s latest offering: the three bedroom/three bathroom Casa Tre Archi, in the picturesque and unspoiled town of Petritoli. The townhouse enjoys outside space on three levels, including a generous roof terrace with room for owners to dine at a leisurely pace as the sun lowers over the rolling countryside. Family-friendly, Blue Flag beaches await those who care to venture out, while holidaymakers who prefer to relax in town can stroll through Petritoli’s pretty piazzas.

With shares available from just £65,000, entitling owners to five weeks’ usage per year, Casa Tre Archi provides the perfect way for those who want a second home in Italy to buy one without breaking the bank. The fractional ownership model also removes the stress from owning a holiday home overseas. Owners arrive to a house that is clean, well maintained and ready for them to simply drop their bags and begin having fun, while those who own their second home outright usually arrive to an overgrown garden, general maintenance and a list of outstanding minor repairs.

For more information on the benefits of fractional ownership and the joys of Italy as a holiday destination, contact the Appassionata team on 0039 073 465 8775 or visit www.appassionata.com.

Italian estate agents are feeling increasingly cheerful so is now the time to buy that dream casa?

Italy’s estate agents are feeling cheerful. Well, 43% of them are at least. That’s how many forecast that their country’s housing market is going to improve in the next two years, according to a Bank of Italy survey conducted in May 2014. The figure has jumped from the previous survey’s confidence level of 38% back in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The survey marks a turning point for the Italian property sector, as Fabio Longo, director at Sankaty Advisors Inc, explains,

“The Italian real estate market has stronger fundamentals than other southern European markets and Italian banks’ provisions are improving… We see Italy as a core source of opportunities.”

The projected improvements to the property market are just one reason why Italy is looking strong for H2 2014. Another reason is the boost the economy has received of late thanks to Italian debt touching record lows of 2.666%.

With investor confidence driving economic improvement, the feeling is one of a starkly different environment than Italy has experienced over recent years. Gone are the concerns that Italy may need to join Portugal and Greece in receiving an international bailout. Instead, investors are now casting an appraising eye over Italy’s offerings. Patrick Jacq, bond strategist at BNP Paribas, comments,

“The fact that these rates continue to decline and there is no reversal shows that nobody sees issues that are likely to push yields higher.”

With its facts and figures in order, Italy could well be shaping up for a good H2 2014, but the country’s essential appeal is not quite so black and white, as Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs of luxury holiday home company Appassionata explains,

“Over the last 10 years I’ve seen Italy experience the good times and the not so good times and it really feels as though the country has turned a corner now. Italy has so much to offer – a rich history, friendly culture, world-class cuisine, beautiful weather – it’s almost impossible to sum up the country’s charms in words. It’s more of a feeling – Italy just gets under your skin somehow and makes you yearn to keep coming back – it did us!”

The observation is certainly true so far as Italy’s visitor numbers are concerned. World Tourism Organization data shows that international tourist arrivals increase by 2.9% from 2012 to 2013, when 47.7 million visitors made Italy their holiday destination of choice.

With H2 2014 shaping up so well, many of those tourists are seeing now as the ideal time to invest in a second casa within Italy’s borders. The Le Marche region, where Appassionata is based, offers a taste of Italy that is unspoiled by mass tourism. Indeed, those purchasing a fraction of Appassionata’s Casa Tre Archi can enjoy traditional Italian town life for five weeks of every year from just £65,000.

The three bedroom, three bathroom Casa Tre Archi offers immediate access to the cafés, shops and piazzas of the medieval town of Petritoli, while still being within close proximity to several of the area’s pristine Blue Flag beaches. Three levels of outside space allow owners to soak up the sunshine as they gaze over Le Marche’s rolling landscape, with a glass of locally produced wine in hand, perhaps contemplating how lucky they were to have invested in Casa Tre Archi just before Italy’s economy surged back to life and drove prices up.

For more information on fractional ownership and the wonders of the luxury Italian urban lifestyle, contact the Appassionata team on 0039 073 465 8775 or visit www.appassionata.com.

The five golden rules of buying a fractional ownership property

Fractional ownership is, at its core, a means for individuals to purchase a luxurious item as a group that they would not individually be able to afford. From jet planes to super yachts to high end property, fractional ownership has opened up a world of luxury to those who might otherwise never have known it.

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Overseas property, in particular, is ideal for fractional owners looking for a holiday home a cut above the rest. With a management company in place to deal with the maintenance and upkeep of the property, fractional ownership offers the capital growth benefits of a regular holiday home, but with less hassle and a far superior property.

As fractional ownership is still a relatively new concept compared with other methods of property investment, Italy-based fractional expert Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs of luxury holiday home company Appassionata here provides her five golden rules of buying a fractional ownership property.

The five golden rules of buying a fractional ownership property

  1. Location, location, location – as with any property purchase, be sure that the location offers everything you desire, whether it’s mountain views, access to stunning beaches, fabulous local cuisine or an easy flight from the UK. If it’s all of the above that you seek, then look no further than Italy’s Le Marche region!
  2. Value for money – ensure the purchase price is in line with the local market and offers value for money, with transparent annual maintenance charges. Check out the purchase procedure as well – it should be simple and straightforward, with clarity built in at every stage.
  3. Property size – think carefully about how many bedrooms you need and the property’s other rooms and features. Bear in mind that over time your holiday needs may change, with extended family and friends all able to join you if you have a sufficiently spacious property.
  4. Residency calendar – be sure to investigate how the property’s residency calendar works. It should be a simple system that is easy to understand, with a means of allocating weeks that is fair to all owners.
  5. Confidence – ensure that you have confidence in the company that you are buying from. The fractional ownership company should engender trust from the start. Here at Appassionata our clients get to meet the whole team, which as we are a family business even includes the grandchildren. We like our clients to know that we are nearby should they need us, especially for their first visits when everything is new to them.

Appassionata currently offers three fractional ownership holiday homes – two nestled within the rolling hills of the Le Marche countryside, plus their latest property, Casa Tre Archi, which offers Italian urban living in its purest form, in the medieval town of Petritoli. Dawn was careful to look at all three properties through their potential fractional owners’ eyes before purchasing.

Attached to the ancient turrets and entrance arches of the town walls, Casa Tre Archi offers three bedrooms, three bathrooms and three levels of outside space, including a stunning roof terrace with sea views. Unique features abound, including beamed ceilings, old turret walls and travertine stone floors. Fractions are currently priced from £65,000 each for a one tenth share, which entitles the owner to five weeks’ usage per year.

For more information on fractional ownership and the wonders of the luxury Italian urban lifestyle, contact the Appassionata team on 0039 073 465 8775 or visit www.appassionata.com.

Tourists splash the cash in Italy furthering boosting the nation’s property market

Recently released figures for 2013 have shown that tourism to Italy generated a massive €73 billion during the year. This figure includes some 831 million tourist arrivals, made up of both Italian tourists (60.9%) and foreign visitors (39.1%).

According to a report by the Observatory on Tourism, UNIONCAMERE-ISNART, the average expenditure by tourists also saw positive movement during 2013. For domestic tourists, average spending rose from €67 per day in 2012 to €72 per day in 2013. Foreign tourists were also happier to part with their cash, spending an average of €78 per day in 2013, compared to €69 per day the previous year.

In terms of nationality, the biggest spenders were Russian tourists at €149.48 per capita, followed by Japanese (€122), Spanish (€111.17), British (€105.14), German (€104.42) and American (€102.34).

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, founder of Italian fractional ownership company Appassionata, comments,

“Foreign tourism continues to be an important source of revenue for Italy. In times of economic uncertainty and increased competition, tourist flows from all over the world have helped to bolster the economy and strengthen our property industry.

“The increasingly positive economic news coming out of Italy is encouraging foreign investors to look very closely at the country’s housing market. With the increase of tourism helping to free Italy from recession, many overseas visitors are looking to make their stay more permanent and snap up holiday home bargains before prices begin to rise again.”

Indeed, Italy is attracting visitors from far and wide, especially from Asia, with a fast track being opened for visas for Chinese tourists making it easier to visit this ever popular country. There were 57,000 visa applications to the Consulate-General of Italy in Guangzhou last year, a surge of 20 percent from the previous year, with tourism visa applications making up three-quarters of last year´s total.

The combination of lowered market prices and an increase of foreign tourist spending mean that now really could be the perfect time for buyers to invest in their dream Italian second home, so what are you waiting for?

There are currently many properties at great prices throughout Italy, such as Appassionata’s latest project in Le Marche’s medieval town of Petritoli – Casa Tre Archi. A three bedroom townhouse packed with original features, including castle-like turrets and a gorgeous roof terrace with views across the rolling hills all the way down to the Adriatic coast, the property provides stunning holiday accommodation at a fraction of the usual cost – just £65,000 for a share that entitles owners to five weeks’ usage per year. Within walking distance of fantastic traditional restaurants, bars, shops, and even its own theatre, this location has it all.

For more information contact Appassionata on 0039 073 465 8775, visit www.appassionata.com, like the dedicated Facebook page or follow @appassionata_it on Twitter.

We are family – Italy hailed as top family holiday destination and best holiday home location for 2014

2014 will see the world celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family. It is a time for reflection and refocusing on the importance of family and for understanding how families have developed since the original Year of the Family in 1994.

With this focus very much in mind, Lonely Planet has recently published its list of the best family travel destinations of 2014, while the Sunday Times has flagged up the most popular countries in which to buy a holiday home. Both lists point to Italy as a destination of choice during 2014, so what is it about the boot-shaped country that so captures the hearts and minds of those who visit it?

For Brits, of course, the weather is an important factor and Italy in this respect offers the best of both worlds, with baking sunshine in the summer and fabulous skiing and snowboarding conditions in the winter. Family holidays can therefore be focused around beach time during the hotter months and around adventure activities in the mountains as the nights begin to draw in.

Food, too, is a huge plus point for Italy in terms of its position as one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Pizza and pasta, along with some of the best ice cream on the planet, are always popular choices with younger family members, as well as with older ones. And in a culture where children are welcomed in restaurants and stay up late as the norm, dining out can be a truly stress-less family occurrence.

For businesswoman Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and her family, Italy’s charms were sufficient to draw them to the country on a more permanent basis. Since moving there in 2007, Dawn and family have set up fractional ownership company Appassionata.

Three generations of the family are involved in running the business, though as grandson Lucas is only five his role is currently restricted to directing the other family members during the annual olive harvest at the estate of one of Appassionata’s luxury holiday homes, Casa Leopardi.

Dawn has found that the owners of Appassionata’s properties have found the family element to be key in their decision to purchase through her company. She explains,

“Italians love family and personal service, and that’s very much what we are about at Appassionata. Many of our owners have commented on how nice it is to deal with a real, human company rather than a faceless corporation. They like the personalised approach that our family takes to the business and find it comforting that we are just ten minutes away while they are staying in Italy, so that we are on hand should they need anything.”

Dawn has also discovered just how popular her first two properties, which she and husband Michael restored from tumbledown farm buildings, have been with their owners’ children. Set in an idyllic five acre estate in the rolling countryside of Le Marche, the grounds offer the space for the children to run and play as much as they wish, as well as to involve themselves in the grape, olive and lavender harvesting, should they so desire.

Now with two new properties under development, the Appassionata team is looking to focus on other aspects of family life for their prospective owners. Both of the new properties – the three bedroom townhouse Tre Archi and the five bedroom Palazzo Scarsini – are conveniently located in the delightful medieval town of Petritoli. Surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes, they offer the ultimate convenience for families with children of all ages. From strolls through the piazzas to dining in the evening sunshine on one of the properties’ spectacular terraces, owners can immerse themselves in traditional Italian town life, while still being just 20 minutes from a blue flag beach and 45 minutes from the Sibillini Mountains.

“There’s a lot of positivity in Italy about the housing market beginning to recover this year. At Appassionata, we have just one fraction of Casa Leopardi left for sale (at £195,000), while considerable interest in Tre Archi (£55,000 per fraction) and Palazzo Scarsini (£100,000 per fraction) has already been generated, in advance of restoration works being completed in the spring and summer respectively. All signs point to 2014 being a turning point for Italy’s housing market.”