An Elegant Four Bedroom Home in Northern Italy
$1.51 MILLION (1.5 MILLION EURO)
These four bedrooms, six bathrooms villa is located on a dike in Brunate, a village in northern Italy, high above the city of Como and its famous lake.
Built in 1908 in the Italian “Liberty” style, a variant of Art Nouveau, the property has been owned by the same family for 115 years and was used as a holiday home until 1960. It was modernized in 2013, with the comment from the owner via email that he opted for a “conservative” renovation, “maintaining the characteristic Liberty style” and preserving the original terrazzo floor in all but two rooms. The project involved adding bathrooms to two bedrooms, creating a parking area for five cars and installing irrigation in the garden.
Built on a stone retaining wall with an integrated access to the unfinished basement, the three-storey house has two floors and a third-floor apartment with a separate entrance and a roof terrace. The apartment can be merged with the rest of the house by reopening an internal staircase.
Ceiling heights over 12 feet and large windows invite light into the space. The larger of two living rooms opens onto a ground floor veranda through double doors with period details. The smaller living room opens onto a balcony overlooking the lake. The large kitchen features a terrazzo floor and wood paneling and has been modestly updated. A separate dining room is through an open hallway.
Three en-suite bedrooms are located on the second floor along with a second half bath. The primary bedroom has a painted ceiling and a small balcony overlooking the lake.
The top floor two bedroom apartment has an eat-in kitchen and a terrace large enough for outdoor dining. The master bedroom’s beadboard ceilings and wood trusses evoke an attic feel, and the window has more historic decorative latticework. A second room, currently used as a bedroom, is suitable for a home office. The top-floor loft, off-limits to occupancy, has a half bath and cedar-panelled walls and ceilings.
Outside the house has a terrace and a solarium with dining and sitting area. A small pool is above ground in the garden behind cypress trees and by an iron pergola.
The house is a three minute walk from the historic cable car railway system connecting Brunate to the city of Como, some 700 meters below on the lake shore. Brunate, a village of about 1,800 inhabitants 35 miles north of Milan, is known for its density of Art Nouveau-style houses and has a few shops and restaurants.
“Part of its charm is that although Como is very bustling, it has a wonderfully calming feel to it, with space and tranquility at the top of the hill,” said Victoria Siddons, a Knight Frank agent familiar with the offer.
Milan Malpensa Airport is a 50-minute drive away. Como is served by the San Giovanni and Como Nord Lago train stations, with daily service from Milan.
For the fourth quarter of 2021, the Italian National Statistical Office reported 263,795 home sales of any kind by notarized agreement, a year-over-year increase of 14.1 percent. A current economic survey from brokers by BancaItalia and Technoborsa, a real estate data agency, reported that 87.6 percent of real estate agents sold at least one home in the first quarter of 2022, the highest share since the survey started in 2009. Eighty percent of those sales were for pre-existing homes.
Engel & VolkersThe 2021 market report noted a 43 percent increase in housing transactions from 2020. Milan, the agency reports, ranks second among Italian cities in prices for new or renovated homes, after Venice.
Home to Brunate and Como, the province of Lombardy has long been a prosperous region of commerce and international trade, thanks to the fashion, automotive and financial industries that anchor Milan, and its proximity to the Swiss and French borders. The municipality of Como is located on the south side of the lake of the same name – the third largest in Italy – and is known for its historic villas and resorts.
But while many associate the lake with extravagant homes, housing types and prices vary around the lake, says Marta Brunellini Romolini of Romolini Immobiliare, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. Homes on the north side, close to ski areas, are mostly new buildings with a price between 185 and 230 euros per square meter (currently the US dollar is almost equal to the euro). The western side of the lake, with its concentration of high-profile sites and villas, commands the highest prices.
“Here prices can be much higher, averaging 3,500 to 4,800 euros per square meter (325 to 445 euros per square foot), but easily up to 6,000 if we are talking about lakeside villas,” said Ms Romolini.
Yasemin Baysal, managing partner of Engel & Völker’s Lake Como offices, said the number of applications has increased by 30 percent since the start of the pandemic, with Americans leading the way. Russian buyers, historically the largest buyers in the Lake District, have declined since the start of the war in Ukraine.
“Since the recent crisis, people have had to invest in stable markets and they know that in Como, demand will never crash,” Ms Baysal said, noting that many Americans are making deposits after a virtual tour. She said 80 percent of homes in demand are villas in locations like Bellagio, ranging in price from $930 to $1,860 per square foot.
Knight Frank reports that the average price of premium properties along the lake increased by 4 percent in 2021, with high demand in the range of 2 million to 4 million euros. For ultra-prime homes, prices average $1,115 per square foot, according to Knight Frank’s Market analysis Italy.
Since a drop in home sales prices in the early days of the pandemic, healthy demand has pushed home prices in Como from an average of €175 per square meter in February 2020 – the lowest point since 2014 – to a high of 187. euros per square foot in October 2021, reports Immobiliare.it, Italy’s leading real estate portal. The price was slightly lower last month, 185 euros per square meter, but still an increase of 2.2 percent compared to June.
In the city of Brunate, Immobiliare reported the average selling price of $188 per square foot in May, a 2.4 percent decline from February 2021 and a 31 percent decline from its high of $247 per square foot in July 2017.
Who buys in Como
Lake Como has become a popular second home destination for foreigners who work in Milan or whose children attend Como International School in the city. Of all Knight Frank’s Italian destinations, the area “attracts the most diverse mix of buyers from Europe, the US, the Middle East and Australasia,” said Kate Everett-Allen, head of residential research for Knight Frank, with an increase of 144 percent over the past year.
“The main story in 2020 and the first half of 2021 was the race for space,” she said, “with countryside, coastal and mountain views high on buyers’ wish lists.” More than half of the respondents in the office Global Buyer Survey said they were more likely to look for a home with a view of nature after the Covid-19 crisis than before.
Italy offers a flat tax shelter for non-resident high net worth individuals who pay 100,000 euros annually on the non-Italian world income. The benefit can be extended to other family members for an annual allowance of 25,000 euros. Applicants must have purchased or rented accommodation in Italy.
The Italian Statistical Institute reported that the greater Lombardy region has been de second highest population of foreign residentsat 11.9 per 100 inhabitants.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers buying from another person, and a notary, usually chosen by the buyer, can handle the due diligence without a lawyer, said Roberta Crivellaro, head of Italian practice at WithersWorldwide’s law firm in Milan.
“The notary does not negotiate the contract between the parties,” she said. “Therefore, the intervention of a lawyer is strongly recommended, although not strictly necessary.”
Buyers must obtain an Italian tax code through the local Italian tax office or an online application at the Italian Consulate.
Languages and currencies
Italian; euros (1 euros = $1.01)
Taxes and Duties
The annual property tax on this property is 2,000 euros. The transfer tax (or stamp duty) for a first home is 2 percent of the appraised value (if not a luxury home), and 9 percent for a non-resident/second home, Ms Crivellaro said.
Brokerage fees are between 2 and 5 percent, paid by both the buyer and seller. Fees for a notary and appraiser (if necessary) are at the buyer’s expense.
Andrew Blandford Newson, Knight Frank, 011-44-20-3640-7048; www.knightfrank.com