International Real Estate: House Hunting in … Italy



The Italian Riviera — a crescent-shaped coastal area bordering France, within the larger region of Liguria — has two luxury markets, agents said: the eastern Riviera di Levante, which includes the tourist hot spots of Portofino, Santa Margherita and Cinque Terre; and the western Riviera di Ponente, which stretches from Genoa to France. The two areas are similar, agents said, but the east is more hyped, and consequently more expensive.

Jennifer Giraldi, the sales director of Lionard Luxury Real Estate, an agency specializing in the luxury market, said properties in Portofino and Santa Margherita sell for 15,000 to 20,000 euros a square meter (or about $1,720 to $2,300 a square foot). In the west, around San Remo and Imperia, prices are around 6,000 to 7,000 euros a square meter (about $690 to $800 a square foot).

Luxury properties start at 1.5 million euros (or about $1.85 million) on the western Riviera and go up to 2.5 million euros (about $3 million) in Cinque Terre and 5 million euros (about $6.2 million) in Portofino and Santa Margherita, she said.

Luxury prices on the western Riviera have risen about 1 percent a year since 2016, Mr. Scandolera said, after falling during the global recession of 2008. On the eastern Riviera, Ms. Giraldi said, luxury prices have been stable for the most part in recent years, although in particularly coveted areas they have increased by as much as 5 percent a year, because of limited inventory.


Foreign buyers of luxury properties on the western Riviera tend to be European, Mr. Scandolera said, but there is no predominant nationality. In the last couple of years, he said, he has seen buyers from Germany, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Scandinavia, Britain, Russia, the United States and Australia.

Over the past two or three years, Ms. Giraldi said, foreign buyers have accounted for 80 percent of her agency’s luxury sales in Liguria, and Italy overall. In the eastern Riviera specifically, about 40 percent of her agency’s foreign buyers have been American and 40 percent have been from Germany, Britain and Scandinavia, with a few from Russia as well.


There are no restrictions on most foreigners buying real estate in Italy, said Giandomenico De Tullio, a managing partner at the De Tullio Law Firm, which has offices in Italy and Britain.


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Transactions are handled by a notary, whose fee is negotiable, but typically starts at around 1,500 euros (or about $1,860) and varies depending on the price of the property and the complexity of the deal, said Gianluca Giovannini, a notary in Livorno. For complicated transactions and sales involving foreigners, it is a good idea to hire a bilingual lawyer as well, said Mr. De Tullio, who estimated that a lawyer’s fee would be about 1 percent of the sales price. In addition, there is a 22 percent value-added tax on both services.

The stamp duty is the buyer’s biggest closing cost, at 2 or 9 percent of the property’s assessed value, depending on whether it will be a primary residence or a second home, Mr. De Tullio said. (To get the primary-residence tax break, buyers must typically establish legal residence in the municipality within 18 months of buying the property, he said.)

Other closing costs include a building registry tax of 50 euros (about $62) and several other taxes and fees that add up to a few hundred euros. A rough estimate of closing costs on a 1 million euro property is around 30,000 euros (about $37,000), Mr. De Tullio said, but he added that it can vary greatly.


Liguria tourism:

San Remo tourism:

The Olive Tree Museum:


Italian; euro (1 euro = $1.24)


Property taxes on this residence are 1,700 euros (about $2,100) a year. A condominium fee of 80 euros (about $99) a month covers elevator maintenance, cleaning of common areas, insurance and the building supervisor’s wages.


Matteo Scandolera, LiguriaHomes Casamare, 011-39-334 93 23 000;

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