House Hunter: 'We're after the undiscovered Italy'

Steven Jonas wants to buy a second home in Italy near the mountains. He has a budget of around 100,000 euros
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The Independent Online

THE PROBLEM

"My wife and I have been considering buying a second home in Italy. We have decided that Tuscany and Umbria are too expensive for us but have stayed in Le Marche and enjoyed it enormously. We feel, however, that it has been discovered by estate agents and so prices have increased but it is still being sold as undiscovered territory!

"We are considering buying in the Abruzzo region which seems to be genuinely undiscovered as far as the British are concerned, so prices there are low. Abruzzo has cheap flights to Pescara with an emergency back-up of Rome. We would consider Le Marche if our budget can stretch to it.

"We are not looking for a property with much land, but sufficient land to build a pool in the future is quite appealing.

"We have no children but my mother-in-law is in the early stages of developing MS, which means the property will need to be accessible and also near a village. Some of our relatives have families with small children so I suppose it should have at least three bedrooms. Ideally the property would be able to be rented out.

"We prefer to be nearer the mountains, though I am conscious of the need to be not too far from Pescara airport for renting the property out and reselling it. We've recently visited this area but found it impossible to find track down estate agents, let alone any that spoke English. Any ideas?"

THREE PROPERTIES FOR STEVEN TO VIEW

Property one: Detached stone casola in Lunigiana

Price: €105,000.

Agent: Casa Travella.

Tel: 01322 660988.

Agent's details: This is an attractive detached, stone house with three bedrooms, living room, bathroom and kitchen and there is also a balcony, cellar and a garden. The house is in a rural setting but it is not remote - you can see other houses - and it is set within a pretty village with all its amenities. It is around 50 minutes to Pisa airport.

Property two: Semi-detached house in Fivizzano, Lunigiana

Price: €100,000.

Agent: Casa Travella.

Tel: 01322 660988.

Agent's details: This is a semi-detached stone house which has a living room, kitchen and bathroom and two bedrooms and there are also three cellars which could be converted and also three rooms on the top floor which need finishing. There is also a garden and a garage. The property is set within a village and is gated making it very secure.

Property three: A brick and stone house in Sarnano, Le Marche

Price: €53,750 (about £39,000).

Agent: Casa Travella.

Tel: 01322 660988.

Agent's details: This is a typical house made from brick and stone. It is situated in a hilly area and commands a fine view. The property is around 100m2 and includes a plot of land of about two acres. There is a cellar and the first floor has a kitchen with a fireplace, living room, two bedrooms and bathroom. On the second floor there is a loft, which could be converted. The house is habitable with water and electricity. Ancona airport is an hour and 25 minutes away.

LINDA'S ADVICE

"None of the three properties I've found for Steven have pools - they couldn't at that price - but they do all have room to build one and I think he's going to be quite surprised by where they are. Like a lot of other buyers Steven has assumed that Tuscany is too expensive and many people don't even bother looking. If they did, they may find themselves surprised.

"All these properties are accessible to an airport, 95 per cent of the properties we sell are within 90 minutes of an airport. Access is very important for a second home. If it's just for a one-off trip you may not mind a four-hour drive but if it's somewhere you'll be visiting again, sometimes just for the weekend, then distance is crucial, particularly if children are to be visiting.

"It's interesting that Steven has considered Abruzzo. As an agency we've been thinking about starting to sell property there but, even with our many years of experience, we are finding it difficult to find the right contacts and the right properties. To buy independently there would be extremely difficult - it's hard enough if you are fluent in Italian, and although buyers may hope to get a bargain, in reality they can often find that they've paid far too much.

"In our business we hear of many buyers who have made the mistake of trying to go it alone and who have relied on 'word of mouth' but be wary that there are people who purposely follow our clients when they hear they are looking and try to con them. Be alert and don't talk to strangers in bars and restaurants about your house hunting or you could end up being conned!

"As for the places I've picked out, they are all habitable but some may need minor decoration and finishing off, but I think that all of them could possibly suit Steven."

Linda Travella is director of Casa Travella: www.casatravella.com

STEVEN'S VERDICT

"I think the property in Le Marche looks good. I appreciate Linda's caveat about looking further south, having spent two weeks there. I also appreciate the fact that most people want Tuscany, but not everyone wants to go down there. We have visited this part of Le Marche and liked it very much. Flights are a concern. We live in Birmingham and for us Stansted is an extra couple of hours' drive. Parking fees there are horrendous, which makes cheap flights not so cheap!"

Interviews by Ginetta Vedrickas

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail househunter@independent.co.uk

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