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PROPERTY

Ten surprisingly affordable homes on Lake Como for under €150,000

Think living on Italy's glamorous Lake Como is beyond your budget? It might be time to think again.

Ten surprisingly affordable homes on Lake Como for under €150,000
Owning a home on Lake Como could cost less than you think. All photos: Lakeside Real Estate

Italy's glamorous Lake Como area is known for attracting the rich and famous, and unsurprisingly, the property market in this particular corner of the country is booming.

If you've always dreamt of buying your own holiday home here, but don't quite have the movie-star budget, don't be too quick to dismiss the idea as unaffordable.

READ ALSO: 10 things you need to know about property on Lake Como

Local property experts from Lakeside Real Estate showed us around ten surprisingly affordable homes in the area under €150,000 each, all of which are habitable and not in need of structural work.

Could one of these be the dream Italian holiday home you've been looking for?

San Siro, one-bed apartment

€75.000

“The only sound you can hear from this romantic retreat in San Siro (5 minutes drive from the resort destination of Menaggio) is that of the lake waves. The recently renovated, two-storey house, an historic fishermens' townhouse, typically featuring a wide entrance originally used as storage for recovering the fishing nets, is set just ten meters from the water.

It boasts a 180° lake view from the master bedroom and idyllic location, in one of the oldest medieval hamlets on the western shore of Lake Como.”

More information

Plesio, apartment

€68.000

“This cozy little apartment is ideal if you love hiking: it’s set in the hillside of Menaggio (10 minutes from the beach), a perfect starting point for many hiking trails around the glorious mountains surrounding the village (Rifugio Menaggio, Sant’Amate, Alpe di Nesdale, Mount Grona and Mount Bregagno).

Featuring a super sunny terrace with breathtaking view: from Plesio you can easily detect the y-shape of Lake Como as a whole! A bit of a cosmetic renovation would be needed.”

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Argegno (hillside), apartment

€80.000

“Fully renovated, set in a very peaceful location – a car is needed to reach the lake and the highlights of the vibrant village of Argegno. Bargain!”

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San Siro, apartment

€ 129.000

“Ideal as an investment: excellent conditions, sunny, close to the beach (just five minutes' drive), super peaceful location. Fully furnished. The romantic bedroom in the attic boasts an enviable skylight enabling far-reaching views.”

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San Siro, townhouse

€ 110.000

“Traditional local townhouse: tall, narrow, with multiple rooms scattered over multiple levels. Stunning lake view. Set in a timeless little hamlet with cobbled alleys, a handful of houses, with the woodland a few steps away. The beach is just three minutes' drive.”

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San Siro (hillside), detached house

€ 115.000

“The soundtrack of this little house could be Lucio Dalla’s “Attenti al lupo”, when at the beginning he sings “There was such a small house…”.

It’s a small house indeed, but with plenty of potential with its stone facade and, most of all, its enviable garden with pergola benefitting from a 180° lake view. Habitable, with a bit of a cosmetic refresh needed. 25 minutes driving from the lake. Not so close to the beaches – ideal for those looking for their retreat far from everything and everyone.

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San Siro, apartment in residence

€120.000

“The public beach is just three minutes on foot, all the local services are at hand, the lake view is great: this apartment ticks all the boxes for being considered a good investment. A proper cosmetic refresh would be needed, although the house is perfectly habitable. The cellar is included in the sale.”

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Moltrasio, renovated apartment

€135.000

“A romantic pied-à-terre, fully restored, conveniently located 10 minutes from Como city and access to the highway to Milano and Switzerland. Example of artful restoration: look at the original stone vault in the master!

Just an additional note: Moltrasio in 2019 ranked 4th in the national chart of the most beautiful hamlets of Italy. Visiting is believing!”

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Menaggio, apartment

€129.000

“Ideal for history lovers: this little apartment is on the top floor of the most charming period buildings of the village, the ex railway station; the latter ended its service in 1939, during Second World War II. Waterfront location, although the apartment itself doesn’t face directly the lake.

The centre of the village is just three minutes on foot. Just perfect as an investment, ideal pied-à-terre.”

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Argegno, renovated apartment

€148.000

“Incredibly cozy and stylish at the same time. Artfully renovated, with plenty of original details. Literally behind the main piazza in Argegno, with all local services (e.g. ferry stop, bus stop, restaurants.) at hand. Great as an investment!”

More information

Please address any enquiries about these properties to Lakeside Real Estate. But do let us know at The Local if you decide to make an offer!

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PROPERTY

How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

Buying a cheap home to renovate in Italy sounds like the dream, but it can quickly turn nightmarish amid restrictions, red tape, and bickering relatives. Silvia Marchetti explains some of the most unexpected pitfalls and how to avoid them.

How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

With so many Italian towns offloading cheap old properties for sale, lots of people have been tempted by the chance to buy a fixer-upper in a sunny, rural area and live in the perfect idyll. And most are oblivious at first of what risks the purchase might entail. 

The older the properties are, the more potential traps along the way.

READ ALSO: The Italian towns launching alternatives to one-euro homes

There have been several villages in Italy eager to sell €1 and cheap homes that have had to give up on their plans once hidden issues came to light.

Back in 2014, the towns of Carrega Ligure, in Piedmont, and Lecce nei Marsi, in Abruzzo, tried hard to sell their old properties off at a bargain price but just couldn’t get past Italy’s labyrinthine red tape, hellish property restrictions, and scores of bickering relatives.

Both towns’ mayors found themselves chasing after the many heirs of unknown property owners who had emigrated in the 1800s. All existing relatives, who technically owned small parcels of the same house (whether they knew it or not), had to all agree on the sale.

Under Italian law, over time and generations a property ‘pulverizes’ into many little shares depending on how many heirs are involved (if one single heir is not named).

You can end up in a situation where you agree with two owners that you’ll buy their old house, and then one day another five knock at your door saying they never gave their consent, nullifying your purchase. So it’s always best to check beforehand the local land registry to see exactly who, and how many, are the owners, and where they are. 

READ ALSO:

In Carrega Ligure and Lecce nei Marsi, families had long ago migrated across the world and the many heirs to some properties were impossible to track down.

But there were also other obstacles.

“We wanted to start the renovation project by selling dilapidated one euro houses, and then move on to cheap ones, but the tax office would not agree on the price – saying that the old properties had a greater value, that they weren’t classified as abandoned buildings but as perfectly livable houses in good shape”, says Lecce nei Marsi mayor Augusto Barile. 

This meant buyers would have ended up spending tons of money in property sale taxes.

“Even if these were just small houses, potential property taxes start at €700, and could have been much higher,” he explains.

“This would have been a nightmare for any buyer finding out about this at a later stage, after the purchase”.

Barile says the town hall had not made a prior agreement with the tax office to reclassify and ‘downgrade’ the value of the old buildings, which also required an update of the land registry. 

READ ALSO: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

Council officials in the village of Carrega Ligure faced a wall of red tape when they tried to sell off abandoned properties. Credit: Comune di Carrega Ligure

Several potential buyers I spoke to back then said that when they found out about the tax office’s involvement by word of mouth (mostly thanks to village gossip at the bar while sipping an espresso), they fled immediately without even taking a look at the houses. 

The best advice in this case is to pay a visit to the local tax bureau ahead of any formal purchase deal and make sure that the old, dilapidated house you want to buy is actually ‘accatastata’ (registered) as such, or you might end up paying the same property sale taxes as you would on a new home. Hiring a tax lawyer or legal expert could be of huge help.

In Carrega Ligure, where old shepherds’ and farmers’ homes are scattered across 11 districts connecting various valleys, a few abandoned homes located near pristine woods came with a nice patch of land – which turned out to be another huge problem.

Old estates often cannot be disposed of due to ‘vincoli’ – limitations – either of environmental or historic nature, that do not allow the property to be sold, or simply due to territorial boundaries that have changed over time, particularly if the original families haven’t lived there for a long time.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s cheap homes frenzy is changing rural villages

In Carrega Ligure it turned out that “a few dwellings located in the most ancient district couldn’t be sold because of hydrogeological risks. State law forbade rebuilding them from scratch, as floods and mudslides had hit the area in the past”, says Carrega Ligure mayor Luca Silvestri.

Meanwhile, other properties were located within or close to the protected mountain park area where the village districts spread, and where there are strict rules against building to preserve the surroundings.

Another issue was that a few old homes came with a patch of land which was quite distant, on the opposite side of the hill, says Silvestri, making it inconvenient for buyers looking for a house with a back garden.

In this case, checking territorial maps, and speaking to competent bodies such as park authorities if there are ‘green restrictions’ in place, can spare future nuisances.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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