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ECONOMY

What will happen to Italy’s property market in 2021?

In the second year of the pandemic, how will property prices and mortgages be affected in Italy? Here's what the experts say.

What will happen to Italy's property market in 2021?
More outdoor space is now top of house-hunters' wish lists due to the pandemic. Photo: AFP

Despite some difficult months in 2020 and ongoing uncertainty, there is now “cautious optimism” about the outlook for the Italian real estate market in 2021.

How has the pandemic affected the Italian real estate market so far?

Data from the Italian Revenue Agency shows there were 374,545 residential property transactions completed in 2020: a decrease of -13.9% compared to the same period in 2019. 

In the first nine months of 2020 property prices in Italian cities fell by -1.1% on average, compared to 2019, according to a recent joint report by Italian estate agencies Gabetti, Professionecasa and Grimaldi.

However, property prices in areas outside regional capitals rose, in many cases for the first time in years, as property experts say people are increasingly looking for larger homes in quieter areas.

“Non-capital municipalities grew most of all, by +8.1%, compared to an overall decline for the capital city municipalities (-6.7%),” the report stated.

READ ALSO: ‘Reversed trend’: Property in southern Italy is now in demand due to the pandemic

Average times needed to complete a sale remained stable, at an average of 4.5 months, as did the final discounts at the end of negotiations, with buyers getting around 12% off the asking price on average.

“Italy’s real estate market has withstood the impact of the pandemic well, under the pressure of changed housing needs triggered by the crisis, and with interest rates at historic lows,” explained Vincenzo De Tommaso, Head of the Studies Office at property portal Idealista.

“Estate agents have been able to adapt to changing circumstances by finding a way to work even in conditions of social distancing thanks to the help of technology,” he said. “We have witnessed an increase in advertisements with virtual tours and agents have started to hold open house events with live streaming.”

“The prospects for 2021 are marked by cautious optimism,” he added. “At the first signs of economic recovery, the real estate market has always been quite quick to recover.”

READ ALSO: 

Things are also looking up for the international property market, as Lake Como-based real estate expert Sara Zanotta told The Local.

Her agency, Lakeside Real Estate, was among those which adapted to the coronavirus restrictions by conducting virtual tours.

“After the first months of the emergency, that have obviously been tough for everyone, from July the Lake Como property market has undergone a real boom,” Zanotta said.

“We had international clients – unable to fly to Italy but still willing to find a property in our region – buying properties from abroad with virtual tours.”

Plus, she explains, following the first lockdown in Italy the agency saw a sharp rise in the number of Italians looking to purchase second homes “intended both for personal use and as a source of income“.

“The proximity of the lake to the big cities, especially Milan, has led to a good induced activity in recent months: compared to the same date in 2019, the increase in Italian customers to date has seen an increase of +45%.”

“Many of the stalled properties on the market were sold within a few months after the first lockdown,” she added. “We’ve reached an encouraging point where demand exceeds supply.”

Prices remained steady for the most part and rose only in certain prime locations, she said.

How will things change in 2021?

The pandemic has of course changed many peoples’ priorities when it comes to housing, and new government incentives may also be influencing choices in 2021.

The report by Gabetti, Professionecasa and Grimaldi says demand is growing for the following:

  • “Multifunctional homes, with larger dimensions and modular spaces adapted for remote working.

  • Outdoor spaces, terraces or gardens.

  • Condominium services, such as garage, gym, or multifunctional rooms.

  • Greater use or purchase of second homes, thanks to the rise of remote working (presumably even after the emergency) and the increased propensity to spend holiday periods in one's own home.”

The report also notes that government financial incentives included in the May 2020 Relaunch Decree “have created important development opportunities for the real estate sector which will materialize particularly in 2021”.

These include tax deductions of up to 110% for specific energy efficiency and anti-seismic works, the installation of photovoltaic systems, and systems for charging electric vehicles.

“This is quite interesting as it speeds up the requests for properties in need of huge renovations,” noted Zanotta.

“Enquiries for this kind of property will increase in 2021 by up to +45%,” she predicted. “From July 2020 to December 2020 these requests increased by +32% on the same period in 2019.”

There are now financial incentives for those buying a quirky old Italian property in need of serious TLC. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

What about mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates have been on a downward trend in Italy for some time. Renato Landoni, partner at investment firm Kiron Partners, said this won’t change in 2021 despite economic concerns. “The European Central Bank will maintain an accommodative interest rate policy as long as the level of inflation remains below 2 points,” he said. 

“No particular changes are therefore expected in 2021; rates will remain low and mortgages will be affordable, especially with regards to the fixed rate.”

He added that banks would remain “competitive in relation to mortgage offers”.

READ ALSO:  

Roberto Anedda, Vice-President of mortgage company MutuiOnline.it, told Idealista that “Many problems in the economy have not yet come to a head“.

“We’re still struggling with the long-term effects of the pandemic,” he said. “2021 will still be a year of uncertainty, but at the same time it is expected that it will not be as dramatic (as 2020).”

“In recent months there have also been positive factors; many Italians see buying a property as an excellent way to protect their savings from a crisis.”

See more in The Local's Italian property section.

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MONEY

EXPLAINED: How to claim Italy’s €200 cost of living bonus

The Italian government is sending one-off €200 payments to cushion the rising cost of living, but they won't be automatic. Here's the latest on how the process works.

EXPLAINED: How to claim Italy's €200 cost of living bonus

The €200 cost of living bonus was announced in May 2022, alongside several government measures aimed at offsetting the increasing cost of living, as The Local reported.

Employees, as well as the self-employed, pensioners and the unemployed, will be eligible to receive the €200 payment if they have an annual income of under €35,000 gross, according to a decree law passed in May.

READ ALSO: Who can claim Italy’s €200 cost of living bonus?

However, the bonus is only automatically made to those who are state employees or pensioners. Those in these categories will be identified by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and INPS and receive €200 along with their salaries or pension payments.

What if I work in the private sector?

Employers working in the private sector should receive their payments in their July pay packet. First, however, they need to submit a self-declaration (autodichiarazione) form to their employer, who will pay the sum with the July pay check and then recover the funds from the state later.

The decree doesn’t specify a deadline for the submission, but as the payments should be made in July, the paperwork needs to be filed before that – so you’ll need to talk to your employer and arrange it.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules and deadlines for filing Italian taxes in 2022

The self-declaration serves to establish that the worker has all the requirements to be a beneficiary. That means the person does not go over the income ceiling for the benefit, for example.

You will also have to declare that you will not receive a €200 bonus from other sources, such as from being a recipient of the citizen income or through another employment relationship.

How can other workers apply?

Italy’s government expanded the bonus payment scheme to more people in early May, as The Local reported.

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ were added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment.

These other categories of workers will not receive automatic payment, though. Instead, they need to make a special request to INPS to receive the bonus.

There are different deadlines for different people, so ‘domestic workers’ (lavoratori domestici) need to apply by September 30th. Other workers, such as seasonal, for example, have until October 21st.

You can apply for the bonus on the INPS website, which indicates that the payments will be made at an unspecified later date.

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