I recently had a stand at the ‘A Place in the Sun’ show and I would say 90% of the people who came for a chat simply didn’t have a realistic budget. That may sound harsh, and you might think that was determined by the audience, but the same is true for the people who approach me for advice via this blog.
Puglia is getting increasingly popular, and has been featured, in the UK press at least, at least twice a month this year, often more. Prices have gone up steeply in the last few years. The price of restoration and materials has also increased significantly.
There are ways of making the most of the budget you have though, and ways of making sure that you don’t make a starry-eyed purchase before swiftly running out of money.
All of what I wrote here remains true, but there is more to add!
I already said that you need to be aware that, to rent out your house when you are not using it – something that I always recommend- you need to have a certificate of ‘agibilita’. If you buy a house which has not been recently replumbed and rewired, you may not have this. If you have to rewire and replumb then you are going to have to replaster and replace some of the floors.
I say this again because some properties may be priced lower because the floors are hideous and/or the plaster is not in good condition. These then become good buys and are worth looking out for.
Houses in Puglia are often built of stone. If they have been closed and not lived in there may well be damp and the plaster may be stained or crumbly. Not an issue if you have to replaster anyway and will use the house. The exception to this is if all the damp is at floor level up to about a metre and a half and the property is on the ground floor. Rising damp can be fixed, but at a price. Similarly, if the property has vaulted ceilings and there is damp and water ingress from above damp marks or mould simply mean that the flat roof above the vaults has not been cleaned and re grouted recently – something which should be done every five years, but not a big cost.
If this is the case the results can look scary and lower the price significantly, but they are really not. If, however, the property has flat ceilings, and the plaster is blown, or there is water ingress, be extremely cautious. The price may well be low, but the cost of a new flat roof definitely isn’t!
So how else can you make the most of your budget?
Look for property October to April – prices often come down.
Consider buying a house you love that is not as ‘well situated’ – not in a historic centre for example.
You will have the advantage of better access to shops and easier parking and can always walk to the historic centre for a wander around. As small towns get busier this can have other advantages. In Nardo, for example, the historic centre now has car access only for residents (not property owners) which makes arriving with luggage or shopping a pain. A few years ago, this was not the case.
Choose a town that is maybe a bit sleepier than you ideally wanted – things change very fast here. When I moved to Nardò five years ago there were only 2 or 3 good restaurants, a limited range of shops, and everywhere is a bit shabby. It is now completely transformed.
Buy a ‘fixer upper’ – you will definitely get more for your money
Buy in a small town, maybe with a garden, rather than in the countryside, particularly if you are buying a property which needs work. Restoration and running costs will be less and there will be far fewer unforeseen which blow your budget.
Choose a town that is further from the airport or train stations, providing it has a lot of other things going for it. If you go right down South, for example, it may well be an hour and a half’s journey from the airport, but does half an hour extra when you arrive or leave make that much difference when, at the moment, prices are 30% lower and you are only a few kilometres away from some of the most staggering beaches in Europe?
Conversely, if you are not a beach person, buy further inland. Here prices may be lower, properties often have gardens, and you may be able to add a pool.
Think also about how much space you really need. Everyone wants at least two bedrooms but often one bedroomed apartments are very big and, obviously, cost less. If you have, for example, older children to stay then the living room may well be big enough to comfortably house a sofa bed. If you have friends to stay, there may well be affordable accommodation nearby and you could have enough space for 6 people to hang out comfortably in your one bedroomed house. If you have a garden guests can ‘glamp’.
Consider fractional ownership, where you own a share of the freehold of a property along with other owners and only use it part of the year. For the same budget you could get something amazing. Our forthcoming Palazzo Fractional Ownership project can be seen here, but we may well do some smaller ones in the future for just two or four owners.
Some examples of towns further South where there are still bargains to be had are Parabita, Casarano, Salve, Morciano di Leuca. All of these have a pretty historic centre, restaurants and shops and are less than 5 km from spectacular beaches (which also means if you avoid July and August, you can get a really good rental income from Italian tourists).
A recent quick search produced the properties pictured above. I haven’t visited any of them but they all looked interesting for various reasons.
The Tricase one for 39,000 is the only one bedroom one, but covers 60 sqm and has two large rooms, a bathroom and a garden. It has been partially restored. The others have two bedrooms, with the exception of the Lucaganano 75,000 one and possibly the Tricase 75,000 which could have three. They all have external space and period features.
The Parabita one at 115,000 has been completely renovated and has a panoramic roof terrace.
If you like the look of any of these properties, would like advice on your budget or would like us to find you a property do send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in fractional ownership, or would like to know more about it I will be holding some seminars with questions and answer sessions or am happy to talk to you individually, again drop me a line or a whatsapp message on +39 3917982054