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10 things you need to know about property on Lake Como

The Local Italy
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10 things you need to know about property on Lake Como
It's not hard to see why so many people dream of buying a home on Italy's Lake Como. Photo: Lakeside Real Estate, Lake Como.

If you've ever dreamed of buying a home on Lake Como, here's everything you need to know about the area's very particular property market.


The Italian market in general has a few pecularities that potential buyers (and sellers) need to be aware of. For one thing, it's the only country in the EU where house prices, overall, are actually dropping.

But if you've got your heart set on a home in the Lake Como area, you can expect the market to be very different. It's one part of the country where prices just keep going up, and yet, properties are quickly snapped up by eager buyers.

The shores of Lake Como. Photo: Depositphotos.

But that doesn't mean buying in this sought-after region is an impossible dream.

The Local asked property experts from Lakeside Real Estate, based in Menaggio and Argegno on Lake Como, what potential buyers in the area need to know.

Why is the property market on Lake Como so different from elsewhere in Italy?

Here, the agency explained, prices just keep on rising – they expect prices per square metre to increase by around two to three percent every year.

And while, in many areas of Italy, houses can languish on the market unsold for months or years, Lake Como properties are often snapped up before agents even get chance to advertise them.

This is because demand in the area is increasingly outstripping supply – no doubt in part because Como's image as a glamorous, cosmopolitan place to be is constantly being boosted by celebrities buying homes in the area.

George Clooney's Italian home, Villa Oleandra, situated on Lake Como's southwestern shore. Photo: AFP

Is all property on Lake Como expensive?

Despite what we may imagine, there's “something to suit all budgets” in the area, according to Sara Zanotta, the founder and managing director of Lakeside Real Estate.

In fact, the area has “properties of very different types, from the little stone rustico, to the standard apartment in classic or modern style, to the villetta surrounded by greenery, up to the finest and most valuable waterfront properties,” she explains.

Prices range from €20,000 for a rustico in need of total renovation, to €200,000 - €300,000 for apartments in residential complexes, up to €800,000-€1 million for a detached villetta.

New apartments are also an option around Lake Como. Photo: Lakeside Real Estate.

But if your heart is set on that dream lakeside property, you probably will need a film star's budget. “The waterfront segment is a peculiar niche, with prices ranging from €1.5 million to €40 million,” she explains.

Are there any bargains to be had?

Even in this sought-after area, Zanotta says prices are “pretty much always negotiable.”

You could negotiate a discount from five percent up to as much as 30 percent, or even more, she says, adding: “Generally, it depends a lot on the personal situation sellers are in.”

What’s the average price per square metre?

Though this is one of the most common questions Zanotta gets, she says it's hard to give an exact answer. “Prices vary significantly depending on lake view, specific location, and condition of the house,” she says.

READ ALSO: What kind of property can you buy for 500K around Italy?

“For instance, we could have a brand new house with a stunning view for €7,000/sqm, and another one - still brand new - without the view for €3,000/sqm.”

The agency gives the following price guidelines, which Zanotta stresses “must be taken with a grain of salt”:

  • Brand new properties for circa €6,000-7.000 per sqm; ‘
  • 70s-80s-90s properties for €2,000-2.5000/sqm;
  • Renovation projects for €1,000-1,500 per sqm;
  • Waterfront properties for €10.000-20.000 sqm.
  • Recently built and inhabited properties (dating back to the ’00s) for approx. €3,000-4.000/sqm.

Who’s buying?

Buyers from all over the world are becoming increasingly interested in the area. “In the last five years, the Lake Como property market has been flooded with a burst of enquiries from all over the world, with the British and Americans always ahead,” Zanotta says, “After that come Scandinavian countries, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Israel, France.”

She says this is “yet more proof that Lake Como has become a brand with international appeal.”

What's so special about property here?

Como isn't the only lake in Italy, and the entire country is dotted with beautiful towns and villages. So what is it that makes this area in particular so irresistible, particularly to international buyers?

“Compared to the other lakes in Lombardy, Lake Como has retained an undeniably timeless appeal,” Zantta says. “Lake Como is an old painting, and that’s why their properties - even the little townhouses - are so precious.”


“Buying a property here means taking over the responsibility to protect the history of each single brick, the memories behind a window, a fresco, a vaulted cellar. Buyers have the important task of respecting the soul of our properties,” she says.

“The conservative restoration of them is an opportunity to become “part of the chain” and add new stories and new beauty to the house. That’s something exciting for the majority of buyers coming to Lake Como.”

What if I want to buy a property as an investment?

According to Zanotta, a whopping 70 percent of buyers in the Como area purchase property as an investment, with a ROI (return on investment) ranging from six to seven percent annually.

“That’s because the “hot” tourist season on Lake Como is very long, starting in May and ending in mid-November,” Zanotta explains, with the season stretching out in recent years as the lake becomes ever more popular.

Lake Como. Photo: Depositphotos

“Most clients generally rely on local agencies for property management. Some of them, however, decide to manage their Airbnb profile on their own, leaving just the basic services to local agencies, like check-in and cleaning.”

“Anyway, most owners reserve some weeks of the year for their own enjoyment of the house,” she adds.

Has the “flat tax effect” hit Lake Como?

A "flat tax" incentive means wealthy foreign buyers can pay a fixed €100.000 tax to get fiscal residency in Italy. Some expected this policy might lead to a boom in the number of overseas investors snapping up higher-end properties. Has this happened in Lake Como?

“Not really,” Zanotta says. “We can confirm the flat tax hasn’t really boosted the purchase of properties on Lake Como, and in Italy as a whole.”

She points to a recent survey by Scenari Immobiliari, showing that in Italy only 200 foreign buyers have benefitted from the policy so far.

“This is mainly because it’s not linked to the property purchase, as happens - for instance - in Spain and Portugal”, she explains.

Should I buy a renovation property in the Lake Como area?

"There are plenty of properties begging for renovation on our lake," says Zanotta. "The only fact to bear in mind is that Lake Como is a highly protected area, so every single change on the exterior of every building, such as adding a balcony or a window, must receive permission from an office in Milan called the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti & Paesaggio."

"Everything must be organised perfectly with the most well-known local companies and a network of professionals," she advises. "DIY is never a good idea. it's fine if you just want to paint the internal walls of the property, but that’s it. No hammering if you don’t want to have issues with the local authorities!"

READ ALSO: How and where to find your dream renovation property in Italy

"You’ll need to choose an Italian technician (an engineer or an architect) who will prepare a project for you, to be sent to the competent authority," she explains. "The technician will be your project manager and will assist you in all the stages of renovation."

If you live abroad, she says, "no worries at all. The technician can send you photos and videos, and he’ll make live calls to show you the progress."

Will it be difficult to get a mortgage?

In short, no. And Zanotta stresses that if you want a mortgage in Italy, now is the time.

“The amount released by Italian banks is 60 percent of the value of the house, for a maximum of 15 years for international clients,” she says. “What’s more, the fixed rate today is 0,76 percent.”

She explains that the paperwork required (which must be translated into Italian and legalized with an apostille) includes a tax declaration, the buyer's last three pay slips and last three bank statements, and the declaration of any other income, such as from rentals.

Photo: Depositphotos


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