In 2012, according to estimates, a total of 4600 foreign families bought a home in Italy. This is 13.5% more than the previous year and represents a total investment of 2.1 billion Euros.
Just like the old joke that involves a Frenchman, a German and an Englishman so the image could fit the buyers that have, up to now, invested in Italian property.
Historically, France, Germany and the United Kingdom were the first countries to take an active interest in the Italian property market, albeit favouring different parts of Italy. Historically, as a second home investment, Germans tended to buy in and around the lakes of northern Italy and later the Adriatic coast. Their geographical preferences, however, now seem to be changing. Although the Adriatic Riviera still accounts for more than 25% of Italian property searches made by German citizens this was closely followed by the Veneto coast at 23% and Liguria at 17%. Recent ‘hot spots’ among German clients include the Conero Riviera in the Marche at 5%, just one percentage point below Lake Garda, and Salento at 4%. In 47% of cases, Germans invest between 200,000 and 300,000 euros in a property. It would also appear that a new type of German buyer is emerging as in 13% of cases they are looking for a farmhouse and not simply a house.
With exactly the same investment budget as Germans our French cousins, however, still have a preference for Liguria. From West to East, Liguria still accounts for 21% property searches among the French. Their second preference is Tuscany at 11% while the third most popular search is very specific, Rome! The Italian capital is the place to buy for 5% of potential French investors.
The English, indeed British, in Italy have now become a sizeable minority, especially in Tuscany and central Italy. The hilly area between the provinces of Siena and Florence has even acquired the name ‘Chiantishire’ in recognition of the amount of ‘Brits’ that are here. It is no surprise then that Tuscany accounts for 29% of property searches by the ‘Brits’ followed by the beautiful cities of Venice (19%) and Rome (18%). Curiously, just behind these popular choices, is not another historic town but Milan which accounts for 16% of property searches made by UK citizens. The budget for British buyers appears to be slightly larger than the French and Germans at between 300,000 and 500,000 euros.
While these nationalities represent the historical footprint of foreign buyers in Italy the analysis from the research department at the property website, Immobiliare.it, highlight two important emerging ‘buyer profiles’, the Russians and Austrians.
Those with the deepest pockets would appear to be the Russian buyers. While 77% of Russian buyers estimate that they will not spend less that 500,000 euros on a property they end up, on average, spending 900,000 euros and above on a properties. Their searches tend to be polarised between two specific areas. Rome, which accounts for 41% of searches where they plan to buy apartments with at least 5 rooms, and Sardinia which accounts for 31% of searches for luxury Villas. Increasingly, however, the Russians have discovered the charms of the coast with 15% of their searches focused on Campania.
While the arrival of the Russians may not be a great surprise the same cannot be said for the Austrians who have recently become increasingly interested in Italian property. Their most common searches are for three-room apartments in Lignano Sabbiadoro in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region while there is also increasing interest in Veneto and Umbria at 21% and 11% respectively. Similar to the British, the Austrians would also appear to be mid to high end spenders with 43% budgeting to spend between 300,000 and 500,000 euros on their Italian property.