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2010-12-01 11:18:28

Liguria (Italy) Property market – An Overview

There are some features of Ligurian property market that are worth to know when considering to buy a house. Liguria is the natural getaway to the sea for two rich and populous Regions such as Piedmont and Lombardia, and also for western Emilia. Hence, property market in Liguria is strongly influenced by the demand for not residential homes, which obviously is mainly addressed toward the sea. So, there is a strong difference in the house price between the coast and the inland. On the coast, there is again a difference between resorts as Alassio or Santa Margherita and industrial or commercial sites without touristic significance. All four towns in Liguria (with the exception of some residential district strategically located in eastern Genoa, such as Nervi and Quarto) are far less expensive than sea resorts in their provinces.


The pressure of demand in years 1998 - 2007

In the decade 1998 to 2007, the demand for second homes and the difficulty to build new houses after the negative excesses of Sixties and Seventies, raised the prices. Despite we have seen a halt in price growth over the last two years (2008 – 2009), and subsequently a decrease, by now, for a good house on the sea-front of the well renowned resorts in Riviera, it is still common to be asked a price near 10,000 euros / sqm. For resorts as Bordighera, Laigueglia or Alassio on the West Riviera and all sites of Portofino Promontory (Portofino, Paraggi, Santa Margherita, Zoagli), the requested price may be even higher than 10,000 euros / sqm. Portofino is a special case: it is the first or the second most expensive property market in Italy and has its own uniqueness. For a house overlooking the pier, the average price (as of 2009) is about 17,000 euros / sqm.   


A comparison with National Property Market (average prices and intensity index)

Compared to the national average house prices, all Liguria Municipalities show higher average prices. In particularly, in 2009 for most of the coastal municipalities (81 on a total of around 90), the differential was between 2,000  and 5,000 euros / sqm. The most expensive areas, with a differential higher than 5,000 euros, were Alassio in the West Riviera and the Paradise Gulf (Portofino etc.) in the East Riviera. For Municipalities of the inland, instead, the differential was regularly less than 1,500 Euros / sqm, with the exception of the Eastern corner (the territory around La Spezia and Cinque Terre), where the differential is in the range 1,500 – 2,000. In 2009, the average price (Euro/sqm) for the whole Liguria was 2,692, while the national average price was 1,575. In the same year, in whole Liguria the number of  property transactions was 20,354 and the index of intensity of property market (i.e. the percentage of property units bought/sold on the total amount of property units) was 1.80% (for Italy the index was 1.89%).

The lack of space on the coast and the attractiveness of the inland

In last years, some clever initiatives tried to escape the constraints of the coast by building new modern houses on the inland. But the terrain of Liguria, with mountains which extend up to the coast, does not make this strategy easy to apply. The space available on inland hills is generally limited and the lack of parking in the proximity of the sea, at least during the summer season, makes it very unpleasant to travel from the interior to the coast. Nevertheless, the inland of Liguria is a territory of great beauty, dotted of historical villages which offer good solutions, and probably also a good investment at a reasonable price, for people searching a quiet accommodation in nature.


The price of garages is through the roof

An additional consequence of the lack of room on the coast is the high price of the garages: the price / sqm for a garage is similar or higher than for a house. Buying a garage appears now as probably the best investment one could have made in the past.


Differences between the two Rivieras

The home supply differs in some respects on the two Rivieras. On the East Riviera the supply is more limited due to the conformation of territory. On Cinque Terre and Portofino promontory, the possibility to build is very limited and the supply of cottages and old (may be restructured) houses is prevalent. On the West Riviera, the more space available has fostered, in the period from 1950 to 1970, building plenty of new houses, very often without concern for the aesthetic and environmental aspects. Unfortunately, examples of this unregulated way of building exist also on East Riviera.


Characteristics of typical Riviera towns

Many Riviera towns owe much of their charm to their older core, often of artistic and historic interest, always crowded on holidays and during the summer season. The main street is long and narrow, surrounded by high buildings on both sides. Because of this, local residents call it “budello” (literally meaning gut). Walking on the “budello”, you can spy the sea through the narrow arched alleys (here called “caruggi”) which separate the tall buildings one from each other. If you look up to the windows, you will probably see clothes hung out to dry. In most cases, the old town and part of the modern centre have grownin the flat strip between via Aurelia and the sea. This portion is usually the most valuable and demanded zone of the cities. The most panoramic places on the seafront are often taken up by the luxurious villas built between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, which was at beginning of the custom of bathing vacation. Some of these have been restructured into small modern flats with spectacular views (and correlating prices). The construction of new houses has usually occurred towards the interior, taking advantage of the space available along the small valleys shaped by the rivers running to the sea. In recent years, also the industrial areas in highly valuable positions near the sea have been converted into residential dwellings. The same is happening with some old hotels and the summer “colonias”. These are the buildings, in some case owned by important companies, for the accommodation of children on summer holidays. In both these cases, the use of the flats may be subjected to constraints because the buildings must keep their original touristic intentions. 

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