Buying Property in Italy Diaries: Searching for “The One”

It’s nearly three in the morning. I am hunched over my laptop, online searching for “the one”. 

Not the two-legged kind but the four-walled kind. 

I am doing my daily ritual of scouring through the property portals checking to see if anything new has come online that I haven’t seen… have to be quick these days especially in Puglia.

My name is Nikki Taylor and I am a real estate expert, specializing in helping foreigners purchase their dream home in Italy.

Nikki Taylor image
Nikki Taylor in Puglia

And now it’s my turn.

So I decided to document this journey, with the viewpoint of sharing, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly that goes hand in hand with property purchasing in Italy, along with some of my Aussie humor thrown in for good measure. 

It’s funny really as after years of helping people all around the world, just like you, purchase their dream home in Italy, I am now my own real-life case study.

And what I have come across in the very early days of my journey, being someone who not only works in the industry but speaks the language has shocked the hell outta me! 

I will be sharing an ongoing series with you all, of my findings, with the viewpoint of giving you all some invaluable tips as to what to look out for and what NOT to do.

In my free community “How to Confidently Buy Property in Italy and live La Dolce Vita” I am also documenting a vlog of my experience which will be super informative and also giving a very satirical insight into what it means to purchase property in Italy.  I will be also running a FREE 3-day training course this month on buying property in Italy which is in high demand so make sure you join the group to get updates on how to get onto the waitlist! 

A little about me for those of you who do not know who I am. I am from Australia and have been living in Italy for over six years working in the real estate and holiday rentals industries. My work has been featured in some of the best publications in the world and I totally love what I do. Seeing others achieve their dream of a home in Italy is what totally lights me up and now finally it is my turn to be in the hot seat.

I thought that working in the industry and having a bunch of local contacts where we are looking to buy would really help me out. But it turns out that this has been the hardest property transaction that I have come across in the various properties I have purchased around the world.

We are looking to buy in Ostuni, Puglia. 

Center of Ostuni, Puglia

Puglia is going through an incredible boom right now and it really is no surprise. Properties are flying off the portals like hotcakes and the inventory isn’t being regenerated as quickly! 

Let me share with you a few pointers that I have come across in my search which you need to look out for that are little “traps” that most come across.

The concept of habitable space 

We are looking for one of those old Mediterranean-style villas with the stairs that go up on the side and the flat roof – aperitivo with a view, right? 

Being a family of four with two small boys, having some ample space to run around in not only outside but inside is of paramount importance to us so little poky rooms will not make the grade. 

It is really important to have your wits about you when reading the real estate ads. Especially when it comes to the square meterage of a property.

So here is a prime example. See a property that has 130sqm. I get all excited as our minimum is 120sqm and upon further inspection, the property is split into two parts. The main house and the “deposito” underneath. The deposito usually is extremely large in size and they count that as part of the sqm footprint of the house.

But be careful that this does not constitute “habitable space”. The deposito is usually transformed into either a second living area or other bedrooms but if you have intentions of using this property as a future holiday rental then you are not legally able to have non-habitable space listed as bedrooms, you can get into a lot of trouble! 

So what I am seeing is really 80sqm for example of a living space with a 40sqm deposito. That is not going to be big enough for a family of four. 

streets of Ostuni

The concept of “casa abusiva”

So when you see these depositos being made into habitable space this taps into the “casa abusiva” process. Where there has been some sort of modification made, but without the approval of the local council. It is imperative that before you make any official house purchase that you make sure you send a reliable “geometra” (surveyor) to the property to inspect whether the house is actually legal.

Here is a prime example of a “casa abusiva”. I was doing some property finding for a 1:1 client and we saw this property that was INCREDIBLE. It had 3 bedrooms in the main house and an attached trullo with a fourth bedroom. The problem was, is that the two bedrooms downstairs were actually originally the garage (deposito). A garage does not classify as habitable space and using the space as two bedrooms make that a “casa abusiva”. If you are planning on utilizing the property as a holiday rental, which was the goal of my client, it is a big no no to state that a property has X amount of bedrooms when in fact two are illegal. It is these sorts of things you really need to be on the lookout for. 

If you purchase a property that has issues due to the fact that it is illegal, you inherit those properties as the new owner if you have not rectified them pre-sale.

Due diligence is key! What does that mean? It means having the rightteam behind you; i.e. lawyer, surveyor, etc who do all the preliminary checks before you are putting down money to purchase the property. You want to be 100% sure that what you are buying, is not riddled with issues. 

The elusive estate agent that does not call back

Now, this is something that riles me, a lot. In Australia and the UK where I have lived, it is totally inconceivable to think that you would be calling a real estate agent repeatedly wanting information on a property only to get totally ignored. I honestly do not know why some agents just do not call back, or even email back for that matter but I come across this a lot and this is one of the things I hear the most in my community,

But it happens a lot here. In my bespoke mastermind group, I take the stress of my clients having to call the agents and I do it all on their behalf because it can be downright hard not only getting through to them but also asking the vital questions that you need to ask, not knowing whether they speak English.

Having a bilingual representative on your behalf can save you thousands of costly errors.

I thought the other day that I came across “the one”. I must have called the agent no joke about 25 times on his mobile and to this day, more than 2 weeks later he has never called me back. 

It’s mind-boggling!

Same property, different listing prices

Now, this is where being attentive to the portals really does come in handy. As it is very common for the same property to be listed by multiple agents here and with different listing prices so you really do need to scour through the portals with fine detail! Some owners do not want to be tied to one particular agent and prefer the multiple listing option, hence having various agents list the same property. 

I’m hoping that my next update to you all will have some good news!! I continue to search multiple times a day for “the one”… is out there just waiting for us.

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