Well our first advice is the easiest - do it! Yes we thoroughly recommend buying a house in the Piedmont, that is exactly what we did in 2004 and we have no regrets. Of course if you are not Italian then there are many differences in how to find and buy a house. We are not agents (realtors) so do not suggest that we are experts in this field, but we are more than happy to share our experiences of looking for, buying and owning a property in Piedmont. Here are a few simple points for your consideration:
Research - We recommend you undertake some "armchair" research long before you visit Piedmont. There is a lot of information on the web (our links have a few), so take the time to review some of it, learn about the geography, history and demographics of Piedmont. Find out what sort of property is available (and what it might cost to rebuild old ruins). Check out the basics of the legal system for house purchase and other costs. There are also
Budget - Think carefully about your likely budget before setting out on the dream house search. There is nothing worse (for you and the estate agent) than viewing a collection of properties for sale only to later work out you can't afford them. Factor the likely cost of the house, add between 10-20% of purchase price for taxes and other legal costs. Total house renovation could run to Euro 600 per square metre, so bear this in mind too.
Plan - Unlike some part of the world, it is not so easy to just "drop" into a house agent office, see a few photographs and rush around to view the property on the same day. Plan ahead, contact some agents before you arrive and give them as much information as you can about the type of property you want, your likely budget and how much time you have to look at property. Also consider taking time before any property viewing to drive around the areas you are interested in taking in the views, checking out the local villages and facilities and generally making sure the area is what you expect and are looking for. Once you have seen a property you think you may wish to buy - check out the area and surroundings again - with a more critical eye this time. After all you may be living here soon.
Consider - As you will discover, when you make an offer to buy a house in Piedmont you are making a firm commitment. Often you will be asked to sign a compromisso (first contract) - and that is legally binding - once signed you have to buy the house! There is also a substantial financial commitment required up-front (you may be required to put down up to one third of the total price on signing the first contract). The point here is to make sure you have taken time to carefully consider your position. Do not feel pressured into signing any documents until you are sure this is the right house for you, that you understand the legal implications of any document (likely all in Italian) and that your finances and time frames are all in line.
Land Inspection - You may often be told that there is no need to bother with a survey or building inspection as part of the house purchase process. We disagree strongly. Make sure you get a qualified person to inspect your prospective purchase and give you a written report stating that there are no major structural problems and drawing your attention to any items that do not comply with building codes or might be unsafe for any reason. Ensure that this written report is stamped and signed by the qualified person (this is likely to be a geometra or architect). Don't expect a major document (like the English structural survey for example), it is likely you will get one or two pages - but at least you have some reassurance and a professional opinion with appropriate indemnity.
What's Included? - Start asking this question long before you arrive with your furniture to move in! In Italy there is nothing to stop the previous owner removing the kitchen and bathroom (literally) along with the light fittings and anything else that is not part of the structure. If you are particularly keen to ensure something is left behind, consider having it included in the compromesso as part of the deal (or making a list and attaching that to the comromesso). No one will be offended by your need for clarification. On the opposite side of this point, make sure that items you do not want are to be removed (we inherited a fine collection of old cookers, washing machines and TV's that did not work - and were effectively dumped with us).
Vineyards - If you are buying a property with vineyards be aware this is a complicated thing. Are you buying them to make wine? Are you buying them to sell the grapes? Is someone else managing the vineyards for you? Whatever the answer you will need to seek some advice, managing or developing vineyards is not for the faint hearted. Check that your vineyard has the correct papers (DOC or DOCG certificates are almost essential for conducting any commercial activity with vines). If you are buying a holiday home, who will manage your vineyard? Vines need constant attention from pruning in January all the way through to harvesting in September or October. If you ignore a vineyard for one season it will no longer be a vineyard (you have been warned).
Talk to people - Our best advice is to talk to people who have done what you plan to do, they have first hand experience and will know about the specifics of the area they live in (yes each commune will have different regulations and customs). Should you chose to stay at Vecchio Podere Santa Cristiana during your search for property we will be delighted to share some of our experiences with you.
Welcome to a whole different game! If someone tells you that opening an Agritourismo business (paying guests, serving food, renting apartments etc.) then they are proberly a property agent!
Please be aware there are no simple ways to let self catering apartments in thius country (of course our only experience is Region Piedmont), B&B is possible upto a maximum of three bedrooms - as part of your own living accommodation.
Registration as an agritourismo is only possible after you have been a regiustered farmer in the property for a minimum of 18 months. As a farmer your main (80%) income must be from the farm activity. Registering as a farmer may not be possible with less than 3 hectacres of viable cropping land.
Should you chose to stay at Vecchio Podere Santa Cristiana during your search for property we will be delighted to share some of our experiences with you.
Download our 2008 brochure about our Piedmont B&B and what to see and do in Piedmont in pdf format
we wish you very a pleasant stay in piedmont