At a time of such uncertainty worldwide, it's easy to imagine that many people might be changing their minds about long-held plans to move abroad.
Whether because of worries about being far from family and potentially unable to travel, or increased caution about moving to a place where they may not understand the systems or speak the language, these concerns may be in sharper focus than before.
Are international buyers still set on an escape to the Italian countryside? Photo: AFP
When we asked readers if they were still planning to go ahead with their move to Italy once travel resumes again, we weren't sure what kind of response we'd get.
But most of those who replied said that, while the crisis had put things on hold or caused practical problems, it hadn't changed their minds about wanting to live in Italy in future.
“We bought a house in Umbria just before the crisis began. Or at least we signed the deal, we did not receive the keys because formalities at the notary need to be finalised,” explained Lars Verheijden, from the Netherlands.
“We planned to go there in May and August. If possible we will go, but we are afraid we are not allowed to cross borders in May, so we hope for the best in August.”
“Our plans did not change, I am afraid we are simply not allowed to go.”
Some readers said they were rethinking their plans, either due to lost job opportunities because of the crisis, or heightened health concerns
Debbie Maynard from the US told us how her long-planned move to Abruzzo this September, had “been completely derailed by Covid-19.”
“My husband had planned to go to Pineto, our future town, for two weeks in the summer in order to scope out the town and see about rentals. It was important to him to see the town before we moved. That trip is out now,” she explained. “Even if he went, he would have to spend the entire two weeks in quarantine. We are incredibly disappointed.” she said. “Our dream was snatched away just as we were about to achieve it.”
“We have no idea at this point when we will be able to go. We are both around 70 years old; Italy was our retirement dream, so we are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. We must be very careful.”
Italy-based relocation specialist Damien O'Farrell said the crisis wouldn't necessarily put people off moving to Italy if that's their dream.
“The big question is when will they be able to do it,” he said. “It has also created unemployment, so this may affect the chances of finding work for anyone who will need to work while here.”
Another 44 percent said they still wanted to buy in Italy but had put their search on hold and are waiting to see what happens, while just under five percent said they had changed their minds and no longer wanted to buy a home in Italy.
“A good portion of international house hunters interested in Italy are using time time to look with even more attention at properties for sale in Italy through our portal, gathering info about houses they could be interested in so they can be ready to come visit them as soon as possible,” said Annalisa Angellotti, Communications and CSR Manager at Gate-Away.
“In terms of transactions, many were on pause, especially final deeds of purchase, but the majority of estate agencies continued to work from home trying their best to answer requests and experimenting with a new way of working remotely.”
Many are now getting used to using digital documents and video conferencing services to show properties to clients remotely, she explained.
Some seven percent of survey respondents said they'd consider signing a purchase offer remotely after viewing a property online.
Would-be buyers are also wary of how the crisis may affect house prices in Italy, something which property experts agree is currently unknown.
“For instance, it could happen that many property owners that have homes with gardens and outdoor areas could think of putting them for sale at higher prices, as people that were stuck at home for so long now consider these features so precious,” Angellotti explained.
With many would-be house buyers now giving more thought to their plans to move abroad, O'Farrell says people planning a move should be considering whether they have adequate contingency plans in place for the future.
“Just like the crash in 2008, this emergency is teaching us a lot of things,” he said.
“I believe one of the questions should be: how prepared are you for an emergency in terms of a financial cushion, support system, etc. when living in a country that is not yours, where you many not have access to certain support mechanisms that exist in your own country.”