How romantic: buying a house in Florence! Whether you are contemplating staying in Florence for the long haul or just having a special place to call home for a part of the year, buying property and renovating it could be a dream come true—or a nightmare. Three tools are crucial for survival: a Renaissance sense of time, a good sense of humor and a savvy professional who can help you through the process of making choices and envisioning the end result. Here are some tips that might ease going into the process of buying a home in Florence.
1. Having a good idea of what you are looking for in advance can help.
But what is even more useful is having a clear idea of what you absolutely don’t want, and not only in terms of location or space. Properties come in all shapes and sizes, and although you can get a lot from a renovation, you probably can’t get rid of the pub/day care center right below it. Florence is full of unexpectedly noisy streets!
2. Don’t be fazed by the owner being there during house hunting visits.
In a country where homes are more often collected than easily exchanged, many Italian homeowners consider their property a prized possession that only they know how to properly care for. Some may even follow you around and offer advice on how to use the space: You don’t want an open space kitchen living room / How would you get rid of the smell of deep fat frying from your velvet upholstered couch? In addition to comments, be prepared for a peek into homeowners’ lives as homes are not always staged for selling, and some of the places you are checking out could be currently inhabited. No embarrassment needed. There’s nothing a good dose of imagination can’t fix.
3. Real estate agents are doing their job, which is selling property.
Your job is to be in love with something: the view, the location, the light. Something that will carry you through the hard times (renovations, interior design, bringing it up to code, etc.) when you might find yourself questioning your initial enthusiasm towards home owning in Italy. Knowing that issues, surprises and delays are normal will help you not to lose all hope.
4. Even if it has good bones, make sure that the changes you want to carry out are feasible.
There are town hall regulations that your friend Joe who just completed his Florence home reno can’t imagine. And be aware that some permits can take 30-60 days to get. Check with your architect.
5. Whether it is up to code or not, you should be aware of this aspect of the property.
Living spaces (i.e. bedrooms and kitchens) without windows and properties being sold as homes when they are registered as businesses are some examples. Some nuisances may be up to code, but not immediately visible (easement of passage or cesspool sanitation: not only your own!).
6. Lastly, remember there is always a reason if the property is unbelievably cheap.
Currently, prices per square meter (approx. 10sqft) shouldn’t be less than 3,800-4,000 euro in Florence. So, you need to ask yourself if the 1,100sqft farmhouse on sale for 75 euro is attached to the sewage system? Is the roof included in the price?