Normally at this time of year I would be rushing around, finding properties for people and supervising work on houses bought earlier in the year.. Instead, almost 7 weeks into lockdown, the pace of life is somewhat slower and I have been doing rather more work on my little house and garden than anybody else’s. Like everyone else I have had some rather low moments, but things have settled down and it is good to have confirmation that my choice was the right one – I am so grateful to be on lockdown in Puglia rather than anywhere else.Lovely, cheerful, kind neighbours and shopkeepers, fantastic produce and beauty, both manmade and natural all around.
Nardò is, as always, beautiful and walking down the empty streets and piazzas, now that the strangeness has worn off, is another source of pleasure. There is talk of opening the local beaches, with some precautionary measures in place, in May – I can’t wait!
I haven’t written anything here for a while as it seemed almost tactless – I have a handful of new clients who were very disappointed at having to postpone their trips and am sure there are many more of you. I have noticed recently, though, that there is more traffic on this blog and on the perfect properties in Puglia facebook page, and am also getting questions and contacts via email. Some of the questions I can’t really answer with any certainty – part of the reason this whole situation has been so stressful for people is that there are so many questions and uncertainties, making it almost impossible to plan anything. I will give it a shot though..
I have been asked frequently whether I think demand for Italian properties will decrease, and prices go down, due to the current situation. I am sure demand won’t decrease. As the world situation becomes clearer to everyone it also becomes clear that Italy has acquitted itself well and, due to the measures which have been put in place, is likely to be coronavirus free well ahead of other countries. What is also clear, though, is that it may well take longer to sell properties, as other Europeans, and Americans may well be unable to travel for some time and the Italian property market relies quite heavily on non Italian buyers. On the other hand, the current state of the world financial markets makes property, more than ever, an attractive investment.
Will prices come down? It entirely depends on individual property owners and whether they are able to hold out for a fair price. Properties which were originally priced for the ‘foreign’ market may come done in price, and that can only be a good thing, but, on the whole, I think the market should prove relatively resilient. A case in point is a lovely apartment with roof terrace which I saw just before lockdown, in Galatina. Already well priced at 65,000, it is in structurally perfect condition, including up to date wiring but, as it was used an office,it needs the addition of bathrooms and a kitchen (there are two obvious ‘bedrooms’). The owner is an ex functionary and is in no hurry to sell – funds are not a problem.
There have, and will be, goverment hand outs to help people who have been unable to work during lockdown and to support businesses. Obviously, people working in the tourism or hospitality industries will have been hardest hit, but as soon as the lockdown is over, it will pick up a pace as Italians may well prefer or not be able to travel abroad and will holiday closer to home. Puglia is already a favourite holiday destination for Italians and people who have already bought properties, and were hoping to derive an income from holiday rentals, would do well to fine tweak their marketing strategy to target Italian holiday makers.
I would be very surprised if non-italians were able to come to Italy much before September. I was somewhat horrified to get a newsletter from Property Guides (sometimes a source of slightly questionable information) encouraging people to not fall behind in the queue and to hurry and book May flights. The situation here is rapidly improving due to the lockdown, the numbers of people in Intensive care fall every day as do the number of new cases (and there is an active and extensive testing programme). The lockdown is expected to be lightened May the 4th and restaurants and bars should reopen May 18th. It would then seem logical, though, for there to be a reluctance to let travellers into the country, or to insist they self quarantine for two weeks if they do come in which is hardly practical if you are on holiday or on a property search trip. It may be worth mentioning, for people who were planning a longer stay, or even relocating, that a lot of local owners have expressed a willingness to take in ‘quarantinees’ offering food and meal delivery and accommodation with outside space – contact me if this may be something you will need.
For everyone else – despair not! This too shall pass, at some point, and, if you were excited at the prospect of buying something in Puglia, you could use this time to gather information. I am going to run a series of free webinars on buying property here – the first two will be next week (April 29th at 4 pm uk time and April 30th at 7 pm) do email me at email@example.com for other dates and times if you may be interested.
I have had to shelve my large investment project for the time being,for obvious reasons, but will be working on a much smaller one – a delightful property which has already been purchased, so just the money for the restoration is needed. My loyal team of builders are happy to charge reduced rates for the work (which they need) and it should be possible to have the property ready by August for Italian holiday rentals. Shares cost 500 euros each and we will be providing weekly updates to investors, so if you want a toehold in the Puglia property market while stuck at home do email for details and watch this space!