2014 - The Year to Buy a Holiday Home in Italy?

29 December 2013 - Sunday Times

With its artistic, architectural and gastronomic heritage, Italy remains a dream location for the cultivated househunter, and prices haven't fallen anywhere near as dramatically as in Spain and Portugal. A study by Engel & Völkers estate agency even found that Romazzino Bay, on Sardinia's Costa Smeralda, is the most expensive address in Europe: prices can reach an eye-watering €300,000 a sq metre.

That said, the market in Italy is still depressed. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Commission, reports that after five consecutive years of falls, the house-price index is still sliding; it fell by 5.9% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2013. "It continued on a downward trend, in terms of both prices and transaction numbers," says Roger Coombes, managing director of Cluttons Italy estate agency, who is based in Perugia. "But it was at a significantly slower rate. So 2014 may see a recovery."

Outlook: The most positive signs of recovery are at the lower end of the market - €150,000 and under - and they should trickle up. The reduction of buying charges from early next year will be a spur.