Overseas buyer confidence strengthening in Italy

With the euro at a seven year low against the pound and prime prices in some parts of Italy at their lowest level since the financial crisis, buyer confidence is strengthening, it is claimed.

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According to Rupert Fawcett, Knight Frank’s head of Italian sales, stock levels remain high. ‘As we move into the traditional spring selling season, more good quality homes are coming onto the market. Not only are vendors being more realistic on price but in some cases prices are 30% below their 2009 peak, with even larger margins being observed in areas such as Umbria and Lombardy,’ he said.

‘There is a growing sense that prices have reached the bottom of the curve and that whilst we are unlikely to see price growth in the short term, we are also unlikely to see significant falls. Sterling and the dollar are now at record highs against the euro making a second home purchase in Italy even more attractive to buyers from the UK, the US and increasingly amongst expats who have relocated to Asia,’ he explained.

He also pointed out that the European Central Bank’s decision to introduce quantitative easing at the end of January may ultimately lead to a stronger Euro but it has, for the moment, strengthened confidence amongst Eurozone purchasers. The Greek election result by comparison has had little impact on enquiry levels.

All of these contributing factors have led to a visible increase in enquiries and viewing numbers. The number of viewings generated by Italian properties on Knight Frank’s website jumped 31% between December and January. ‘This is an indication that recent currency fluctuations and the ECB’s shift in policy is impacting on buyers’ minds,’ added Fawcett.

In terms of the focus of demand, the firm has found that Tuscany continues to generate the highest number of viewings and sales, but Liguria, Venice and Rome are also attracting strong interest.

‘The latter two underline the increased interest in city living, with Florence joining this triumvirate. Whilst an improved lifestyle remains the key motivation amongst buyers in Italy, the potential investment opportunity is increasingly a consideration for those looking at a city purchase,’ Fawcett said.

He added that apartments provide an easier ownership route without the need for a large capital outlay and minimal ongoing maintenance.

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