Why buy property in Italy?
Buying property in Italy has become much more popular among Brits in the last few decades, and it is easy to see why. High culture, rich history, great food, ski facilities and good links to the rest of the Mediterranean make it a great country to escape to and start la dolce vita.
What's Italy's property market like?
In September 2010, Italian property analysis from Henderson Global Investors said the country's reputation for slow economic growth masks its potential as an investment spot. Italy is somewhat notorious for its high tax rates and weak rental growth, but underlying this is a fairly resilient economy and "equity-rich domestic investors".
"As far as the property market is concerned, inside and outside views on Italy can be widely divergent," said Henderson's European research manager Stefan Wundrak.
"Foreign players mainly see risks, whereas locals praise the achievement of relative market stability."
Popular areas in Italy in which to invest
Italy seems to offer something for everybody, with culture vultures flocking to art hotspots such as Milan and Venice, while those looking for a more relaxed pace of life choose the more rural locales of Calabria and Apulia.
Calabria in particular has benefited greatly from the onset of low-cost international travel, with a range of new-build apartment schemes on the coastline to reflect this. Property prices tend to be lower, but are set to rise in future as the region becomes more popular.
Meanwhile, those wanting a buy-to-let investment may consider the university cities of Rome, Florence and Venice, as there is likely to be a strong demand for student and professional accommodation.
Alternatively, a new experience can be found on the island of Sardinia, which has its own unique culture and has long been popular among French and German holidaymakers.
The property-buying process in Italy
Italy's sluggish bureaucracy is rather infamous, which makes enlisting an experienced, English-speaking legal expert all the more important. However, despite the length of time involved, the process is more straightforward than in many European countries.
In general, borrowers can get up to 80 per cent of the purchase price of their house and total mortgage payments may not exceed more than 35 per cent of their gross income.
It is compulsory to hold an Italian bank account in order to get a mortgage from a native lender. Again, the process of obtaining a mortgage can be lengthy, so for those who own their UK residence outright, releasing equity and paying cash may be the most straightforward option.