It seems like ages since I have posted anything – in fact it is, but it has been insanely busy… I coped with the first lockdown in April 2020; 4 months with no work, a large project cancelled and zero income, by endless gardening, cooking, meditation and yoga. As part of my new Zen lifestyle, I worked on my manifesting skills – lots of work please when the lockdown ended. Be careful what you wish for is all I can say!
In June, Italy reopened their borders, and I was swamped with enquiries, to the extent of having to, reluctantly, turn people away. A whirlwind of phone calls, property searches, property viewings, feasibility studies, due diligence, getting quotes and visits to the notary followed. Four months later I found myself with four projects to undertake – all of which turned out to be far more complicated than they seemed at first glance.
I will write about each in detail when the dust settles but, at this point I have finished two, almost finished a third and we should start the fourth, a new build, in January when the planning permission should be, finally, be through.
The pace has been incredibly hectic. In the case of the second project, Casa Amorosa (see before and almost finished videos below) we partially demolished, and rebuilt, over 180 squares metres of trulli and falling down agricultural appendages: wiring, plumbing, bathrooms, doors, windows, floors, new roof and, in some places, new foundations and walls. This in 6 months, which was going it some, even for me. Certainly the wheels of Italian bureaucracy, which grind slow at the best of times, couldn’t keep up. In order to have a tri phase supply, which was needed for an adequate electrical supply and in order for the heating/cooling system to work, we had to badger the electricity board endlessly for five months before they finally sorted it out. This meant that my clients moved into a beautifully restored house where they could only use one appliance at a time and sometimes not even that. They had hot water but no heating, which was not initially an issue but became one once November got underway. Mercifully it is now all sorted. Apologies for the quality of the videos, the first one in particular, but it would be difficult to give an idea of the scope of the project off photos alone, especially in the wider context of this piece. More details in a future piece…
Casa Amorosa before
Casa Amorosa after
What have I learned from all this? As far as Enel (electricity board) goes I am taking no chances. We waited so long last time because the property was so remote and there wasn’t already a triphase supply in the area but the same is true of the new build project coming up. In this case we are already asking for the supply now despite the fact that we have yet to get planning permission. In order to do so we have to restore a water cistern, install a mega pump, claim we need to irrigate the whole (vast) plot of land and throw ourselves upon the mercy of a friend of a friend who works in the local Enel office, but that is another story!
I have also learned that, much as I am good at multi-tasking, I don’t enjoy juggling so many things at once so, in the future, I am happy to do property searches, show property and help people with the buying process at any point, but will queue work on restoration projects.
I am often asked what effect Covid has had on the property market in Puglia, both sales prices and holiday rentals. The real answer is that property prices, on the whole, have gone up. When the first lockdown ended there was a flood of foreign buyers, when the second ended, despite the fact that there were very few UK visitors, buyers from Northern Italy rushed down and bought. Demand has never been higher. Equally the demand for holiday rentals has been huge, with most Italians choosing staycations and many choosing to then buy in Puglia after a great holiday.
What has happened, and I imagine, will continue to happen, is that occasionally things come up which are a bargain – they also get snapped up very very quickly – so it makes sense to keep a watching brief.
Two things collided – I seem to have a constant stream of conversations where I have to tell people their budget is not realistic for what they are hoping to buy. Secondly, along with two partners, I snapped up one of those bargains.
This is a pretty period property with original features and a detached, more recent, annex set in beautiful countryside very near Monopoli – a short bike ride or drive from the beaches and town. It has crazy potential as well as a tranquil, verdant setting and a sea view from the attic bedroom and roof terrace. It needs work, though it is structurally sound, but it was on the market at around 60,000 less than similar properties. Restored it will provide four bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool and outside cooking and shaded dining areas – it already has the original pizza/bread oven.
So, I am excited to be almost ready to launch my first fractional ownership project. One of my partners is the man who runs the best building firm I have ever worked with (handy!), we have already made the first down payment to block the property and are just 51,000 short of the final purchase price. Anyone who gets involved at this point will make a very healthy return on their investment – and can sell their shares at any time – obviously share costs will go up as work progresses. I have written about fractional ownership in more detail, here – in this case the desired result is to end up with no more than six owners with different holiday needs (i.e. no more than two shares owned by people tied to school holidays). Do email me if you would like more information – the full business plan should be ready shortly.
I will be writing some more pieces over the Christmas holidays and will be publishing a round up of interesting properties currently on the market in January, as well as running some more property seminars. So, if you don’t already follow this blog do so by filling in your email address in the box to the right (you will be notified when something new is published) if you would like to read more on all things property in Puglia…