By LISA PREVOST MAY 17, 2017
Claudio Bader for The New York Times
A CENTURY-OLD VILLA ON LAKE COMO, ITALY
$3.01 MILLION (2.75 MILLION EUROS)
This seven-bedroom villa is in the small town of Laglio, on the western shore of Lake Como, about a 15-minute drive from the city of Como. Built around 100 years ago, the 2,900-square-foot home was restored and updated by the owners, said Lone Heron, of Heron Real Estate, the listing agent. The half-acre property includes a large flat yard, a rarity in the hilly Lake Como area, Ms. Heron said, where terraced gardens are the norm.
Iron gates in front open onto a gravel driveway with space for six cars. Inside the front door is a marble-floor foyer. To the left is a large living room with a marble floor, a decorative ceiling and a fireplace. To the right is a formal dining room, with a checkerboard-tile floor, opening into a kitchen with granite counters, custom cabinetry and a Smeg cooktop.
On the second floor is the master bedroom, with the original terra-cotta floors common to the region and two sets of glass doors that open onto a balcony with a view of the lake. The master bath has limestone floors, a claw-foot tub and heated towel racks. A separate second-floor suite has two bedrooms and a bathroom. Four additional bedrooms and two baths are on the third floor; the attic houses the boiler and is used for storage.
An original iron footbridge leads from the second floor to an outdoor dining terrace behind the villa. Landscaping provides privacy for a large swimming pool. The house does not have its own dock, but moorings are available; the owners rent one at a nearby boatyard, Ms. Heron said.
With fewer than 1,000 residents, Laglio is not overrun with tourists, though it received attention when George Clooney bought a lakeside estate, Villa Oleandra, there in 2001. This home is within walking distance of several restaurants and small markets, and Malpensa Airport in Milan is less than an hour’s drive.
While prices in most of Italy’s prime second-home markets declined last year — on average, about 5.5 percent — the Lake Como area was an exception, according to a recent report from Knight Frank. Prices around the lake rose by 1.2 percent, the report said, reflecting the area’s popularity both in Italy and abroad, and its proximity to the Milan airport and the Swiss border.
Prices were also buoyed by limited inventory, said Diego Antinolo, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Como. Many vacation homes in Italy stay in one family for generations, and getting permits to build new homes “is almost impossible,” Mr. Antinolo said, while obtaining the necessary permissions to restore a property with historical value is nearly as difficult.
In the area, prices vary widely, with the most important factors being location, lake views and lake access, Ms. Heron said. New two-bedroom condos can start around 300,000 euros; in buildings with lake access, the price could easily be over 1 million euros. Historic villas start around 1.5 million euros if they aren’t renovated, and twice that if they are. Those directly on the lake in prime condition often sell for upward of 10 million, she said.
From 2000 to 2008, prices in many Lake Como communities rose significantly, in large part because of what was known as “the Clooney effect,” Ms. Heron said. While that effect was blunted by the financial crisis, declines were never as sharp around the lake as elsewhere in Italy. Even so, conditions at the moment allow for some bargaining room, as “a lot of properties have been on the market for a long time,” she said. “People had too-high expectations, and kept their prices high during the financial crisis. Now, the owners are more open to offers.”
WHO BUYS ON LAKE COMO
Most foreign buyers are from northern and Central Europe, especially Germany and Scandinavia, Mr. Antinolo said. But sales to Americans and the Swiss have increased of late because of the favorable exchange rate, Ms. Heron said, while uncertainty about the consequences of Brexit has had a negative effect on buyers from Britain.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers. Transactions are handled by a notary, and the same real estate agent generally represents both buyer and seller, acting as an intermediary in negotiations, Mr. Antinolo said.
Foreigners who wish to move to Italy can apply for an elective residence visa if they can show that they are financially independent, without relying on employment. A measure instituted this year seeks to entice more wealthy foreigners to move to Italy by allowing them to pay a flat tax of about $109,514 (or 100,000 euros) annually, regardless of their income level.
Lake Como tourism: lakecomo.it/en
City of Como: visitcomo.eu/en
LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY
Italian; euro (1 euro = $1.09)
TAXES AND FEES
The agent’s commission, usually 6 percent, is split between buyer and seller. Buyers must also pay a transfer tax, based on the assessed value of the home (typically much lower than the purchase price). Generally, the tax on the sale of a primary residence between private individuals is 2 percent; the tax on second and luxury homes is 9 percent.
The annual property taxes on this home are about $2,738 (2,500 euros), Ms. Heron said.
Lone Heron, Heron Real Estate, 011-39-34 0513 6419; heron-realestate.com