Friday 31 January 2014

The future of the real estate industry.

Here's an excellent article from Ed Cumming.

Google Glass will revolutionise how we buy houses

Cutting edge technology Google Glass is poised to change the way property is bought and sold for ever. We take a look into the future

Where technology goes, estate agents quickly follow. First it was online listings replacing shop windows and catalogues. Then it was phone apps, so you could browse the market while you were in a meeting. Or on the bus. Or walking down the street (to the infuration of fellow pedestrians). Next came QE codes, those funny little square barcodes, so you could take a picture of an estate agent’s sign outside your dream property and have the details automatically pinged into your pocket.
What’s next? Which wonderful new technologies are on the way to make it even easier to browse, bid for and buy the house of your dreams?
One of the expected trends for this year is a surge in wearable technology. At the forefront of the trend is Google Glass, a device that looks like a pair of spectacles, but which can take pictures and video.
“It’s a game changer,” says Steven Reilly, whose company, Vistabee (, is one of the leading providers of videos for property. They make thousands of videos a year, for Zoopla as well as other individual agents. Recently, however, they have started to make videos of homes using Glass.
Reilly says that the possibilities the new gadget provides are nearly endless.
“It is going to really disrupt the market. Compared with normal videos, it feels incredibly immediate. People don’t feel as if they’re looking at a camera, so they relax and the experience is much more natural. The viewer gets a real point-of-view perspective of a house. It gives you a real sense of place. People buy houses based on their gut instincts, and this really gives you that. It really democratises visual content for homes – anyone can get at it, wherever they are in the world.”
Glass creates the possibility of an agent giving a tour of a new home live to viewers around the world, who would be able to ask them the kind of questions you normally need a viewing for: is the house noisy, what does it smell like; could you just check round that corner.
“The quality is really exceptional,” Reilly adds. “Potentially it can replace the first or second viewings of properties.”
Douglas & Gordon ( is one estate agent which has decided to take the plunge, and get videos made using Glass.
“It could also have a big effect on the property search process,” says Ed Mead, a director at the agency.
“Potential homebuyers wearing Glass could be able to drive around a chosen area, and geo-tagged properties could pop up on the screen. This would allow buyers to get a feel for the street and the neighbourhood, while also enjoying the property’s interior. If properties are geo-tagged in this way, it could have a significant impact on the industry.”
Another piece of technology making its way to an estate agent’s window near you soon is the drone.
As has often been the way, innovative individuals are finding civilian uses for military products. Rather than spying on the Taliban, these flying robots are being converted to domestic use.
Steven Reilly of Vistabee (left): 'The viewer gets a real point-of-view perspective of a house'
Police forces have adapted them to monitor potential troublespots. Amazon, the retailer, caused a stir at Christmas when it announced that drones would soon be able to deliver packages direct from the factory to your front door. The video might have been tongue-in-cheek, but the underlying message was serious: drones are big business.
In the USA, they are already being used to help sell property. A five-bedroom house in Greenwich, Connecticut, on the market for £3.69m ($6.1m), was having difficulty finding a buyer using conventional marketing materials.
A small remote-controlled drone, with a camera fixed to it, was brought in. Hovering up to 50ft around the house, it took pictures of the house in its romantic snowy setting. Indoors, it took a sweeping panorama of the spacious living room. The house sold soon afterwards.
Drones can take shots that you would otherwise need a crane or a helicopter for, at a fraction of the cost. They can showcase a house in a new and unusual light – and that can be just enough to entice a buyer. They are also getting smaller by the day.
“There is already a drone that you can fold up and put in your pocket,” adds Reilly. “They are potentially a very exciting development for video making too.”
Of course, it isn’t every house that gets the drone fly-by or Google Glass treatment. As is so often the case, consumer technology will start at the top of the market and then work its way down.
For now, these new techniques are ways for people to set their offering apart at the very top of the market. In time, however, they will become an essential item in every vendor’s toolkit.
Futuristic they may seem now. But as happened with sat nav and Skype, technology that was once beyond our wildest imaginations will soon be part of everyday life.

A close shave, Italian mountain style...

An Italian farmhouse in the foothills of the Dolomites just about survived a close call with a truck sized boulder. The landslide above the property loosed both the boulder seen in the photo above, which ploughed through the adjacent barns, and another of equal size that is practically kissing the back wall of the building, dwarfing the car the also managed to survive:

Thursday 30 January 2014

Italian property market expected to boom in 2014.

The Italian property market is expected to see a healthy boost following the lowering of the Italian resale tax that is due to start on January 1st 2014.
Property tax has been the main issue for prospective property buyers in Italy and with the considerable savings calculated for next year, experts have predicted to see a flurry of sales.
According to A Place In The Sun, a buyer purchasing a €400,000 Italian property can expect to save €3,600 in 2014 with the lowering of the Italian Land Registry Tax. Savings are also high for those buying an Italian property for residential purposes rather than investment and buyers can expect to save €1,236 for every €100,000 of the sales price.
Linda Travella, of Casa Travella, commented: “This is a really positive step for the Italian property market. I am advising anyone in the process of buying a resale property to postpone completion until after January 1st so they can make a considerable saving.”
Interest in buying Italian property has already been seen from overseas investors including outside the EU. Italy is still a prime holiday destination that many tourists flock to every year, therefore owning Italian property is an ideal investment.
This latest measure by the Italian government to lower the Land Registry Tax should result in the Italian real estate market seeing a strong recovery in 2014.
Sources: Property Showrooms, A Place In The Sun, Property Abroad

Italian, a fascinating language.

PRESERVATIVI (condoms) instead of CONSERVANTI (preservatives):

Il cibo in Italia è più buono che in America perchè non ci sono preservativi.
(‘The food is better in Italy than in America as there are no condoms.’)

SCOREGGIARE (fart) instead of SCORAGGIARE (discourage from):

Sei stata bocciata all’esame? Non ti scoreggiare, puoi rifarlo l'anno prossimo.’
(‘You failed the exam, huh? Don’t be farted, you can take it again next year.’)

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Locates Italian Battlefield Where Father Died during World War II

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Locates Italian Battlefield Where Father Died during World War II
Silvia Donati | Monday, January 27, 2014 - 10:17

In the photo: Pink Floyd's Roger Waters makes a video in a British Cemetery in Cassino to honor Br...See more

Wednesday 29 January 2014

A whole new meaning for the word waiter...........

An Italian man who recently lost his job has become a professional waiter; not the type who brings you your dinner but someone who waits in a queue for a living. Frankly, this is an occupation that one would have expected someone of Anglo Saxon origin to undertake; after all waiting in a queue is the eleventh commandment in Britain whilst in Italy the ability to wait your turn is a fairly recent concept that appears, in general, to be scorned by many an old age pensioner.   
Giovanni Cafaro has been without work since last summer; unsuccessful in finding a job the university graduate now charges €10 an hour for using his time to save the time of others. It may be worth noting that the word for queue in Italian has a number of meanings one of which is ‘tail’ and Giovanni Cafaro will probably have time to grow one whilst he is waiting in line at the post-office.

Monday 27 January 2014


In Italia metà delle famiglie vive con meno di 2.000 euro al mese. E' quanto emerge da un'indagine della Banca d'Italia secondo cui la distribuzione dei redditi resta sempre asimmetrica. In particolare, solo la metà delle famiglie ha un reddito annuo superiore ai 24.590 euro (circa 2.000 euro al mese), mentre un 20% conta su un reddito addirittura inferiore ai 14.457 euro (1.200 euro al mese). Il 10% delle famiglie a più alto reddito, invece, percepisce più di 55.211 euro.
La ricchezza, inoltre, è sempre più concentrata. Secondo l'indagine, il 10% delle famiglie più ricche possiede il 46,6% della ricchezza netta totale (45,7% nel 2010). La quota di famiglie con ricchezza negativa è invece aumentata al 4,1% dal 2,8% del 2010. La concentrazione della ricchezza è pari al 64%.

La crisi picchia, dunque, sulle famiglie: tra il 2010 e il 2012 il reddito familiare medio in termini nominali è diminuito del 7,3%, mentre la ricchezza media del 6,9%. E' salita, invece, la povertà pseudoassoluta passando dal 14% del 2010 al 16% nel 2012. Un povero su tre è immigrato. Nell'indagine biennale sui bilanci delle famiglie, Bankitalia individua la soglia di povertà con un reddito di 7.678 euro netti l'anno (15.300 euro per una famiglia di 3 persone).

La quota di famiglie indebitate in Italia resta contenuta: è di poco superiore a un quarto e nel 2012 è lievemente diminuita. Il 26,1% delle famiglie italiane possiede almeno un debito e in calo rispetto al 2010 (27,7%). L'ammontare medio del debito è di poco superiore a 51.000 euro. L'indebitamento, come in passato, è più diffuso tra le famiglie a reddito medio-alto, con capofamiglia di età inferiore ai 55 anni, lavoratore indipendente o con elevato titolo di studio. Le passività sono costituite in larga parte da mutui per l'acquisto e la ristrutturazione di immobili: il 12,3% dei nuclei familiari ha debiti di questo tipo, per un ammontare medio di circa 75.000 euro. L'aumento nella diffusione di questo tipo di debito, spiega Bankitalia, è anche legato agli incentivi fiscali per la ristrutturazione e il miglioramento dell'efficienza energetica degli edifici. La diffusione dei debiti per l'acquisto o la ristrutturazione delle case è più intensa per le famiglie più giovani e numerose, e per quelle con maggior reddito o ricchezza, che hanno più facile accesso al credito per la loro maggiore capacità di offrire garanzie. Condizioni di vulnerabilità finanziaria, identificate dalla presenza congiunta di una rata per il rimborso dei prestiti superiore al 30% del reddito e da un reddito monetario inferiore alla mediana, riguardano circa il 13,2% dei nuclei indebitati e il 2,6% del totale delle famiglie. Il fenomeno appare in aumento rispetto al passato (+3,1 punti percentuali tra le famiglie indebitate, +0,4 sul totale).

Perfectly positioned apartment in the heart of Cortona

Anybody searching for a very central space in the beautiful ancient heart of Cortona? They don't come much better positioned than this. Call us for info: +39 075 9417554. Abode Srl

Thursday 23 January 2014

To blog or not to blog?

Abode is a real estate company, our aim is to sell houses, so what should we blog about? The obvious subject would be real estate for sale in Italy, houses that we have sold, properties that have been reduced in price, information on taxes, the buying process, who bought what, where and for how much. BUT that can be a little dry, a bit, well.....obvious.

The next step is to write about the appealing things that Italy has to offer, of which there are plenty. The food, the wine, the scenery, the art, the architecture, museums, cars, fashion, people.  Information on events, what’s going on where and when. Is it right though to concentrate on the positive and present a rosy picture of a country that, like everywhere else, does have issues? Murders, Italy has them. Natural disasters, Italy has those too. Italy also has greedy clerics and seedy politicians or vice versa (pun totally intended). Will it do our business any good if we blog, tweet or facebook the negative stuff? Is it appropriate to use tragedy, disaster and unsavoury goings  to drive traffic to our website?

Opinions differ but maybe what we should do is concentrate on what makes Italy different from the rest of the world rather than what makes it the same.  


Wednesday 22 January 2014

Look after the pennies - Purchase taxes drop in 2014

What better time to buy real estate in Italy? Changes in taxation on real estate purchases means that in most cases buyers will pay less than before when they purchase in 2014.

The changes mean a 1% drop in taxes payable on second house purchases, which are calculated on the Buildings Registry value, which is almost always significantly lower than the actual price agreed for the property. This tax is down from 10% to 9%. The major change however, is the tax payable on land, which must be declared at a 'realistic market value', rather than the Land Registry value. This is now charged in line with the tax on buildings at 9%, rather than the previous 18%: a whopping 50% decrease.

These changes are not relevant to every sale, however the vast majority of real estate sales between private individuals will benefit from it. Check out our website for some of the best Italian property on the market:

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Sting's luxury Tuscan estate and the Mafia connection

Cottages on Sting's luxury Tuscan estate in Chianti, 'Il Palagio', were restored by building companies that have since been closed down and investigated for links to the Neapolitan mafia the 'Camorra'. The companies, based in San Giovanni Valdarno south of Florence, also carried out restoration works at the world famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Sting.

Sting's Il Palagio estate in Tuscany
The construction companies under investigation completed numerous restoration works for unsuspecting clients throughout the region before the authorities were able to close them down. They were able to undercut local firms through the evasion of millions of Euros in taxes over the past few years, according to the Italian Finance Police.

Russians purchasing Italian properties

Here at Abode it's our business to know and offer the best luxury Italian properties to our clientele. Over the last two years we have seen the next generation of Russian purchasers looking to acquire a foothold in the Italian real estate market. Russian property portals have opened the world to overseas properties and international real estate agents. Russian purchasers are now searching further afield to track down the best properties and we have tailored our new website via Google translate to offer a direct translation to Russian and several other languages.

The outcome is within the last 12 months we have sold three outstanding properties, one in Umbria, near Lake Trasimeno and 2 in Tuscany, near Cortona to Russians.

If you have a luxury property in Tuscany or Umbria and would like to present your abode to a global audience please give us a call or email us

Monday 20 January 2014

Property requirement for new client looking for a Bed & Breakfast in Tuscany or Umbria

We have a new client looking for a B&B near Cortona, Monte San Savino, Siena (although I expect the latter will be too expensive) If you are thinking of selling your Bed & Breakfast (B&B) in Italy, we would love to hear from you.

Super house just reduced.

Cortona has always been regarded as one of the best towns in Tuscany. This lovely property is only 10 minutes away, set within a secure estate which forms part of a hotel. Full management service if required. A perfect summer home. For further information click here.

Nun gives birth.

Friday 17 January 2014

Once in a lifetime opportunity.

We have seen many properties in our line of work but none more amazing then Castello di Cortona. It's truly magnificent. With enough land to be totally private, the castle is perched on it's own hill with views of Lake Trasimeno and beyond. The owners have reduced the price and are now entertaining all realistic cash offers. Yes, it might need updating, but for the same price of a maisonette in central London, one could acquire this unbelievable piece of Italian history. Oh, did I mention it has a helipad? Well it does. For further information click here.

Thursday 9 January 2014

Back to work and looking forward to 2014

We are upbeat and very happy to be back to work in what we believe will be an interesting and productive year. Viva 2014! Already we have received several enquiries from prospective purchasers. The market over the last couple of years has been challenging but good luxury properties are without doubt the main focus for international buyers. If you're thinking of selling you Italian property in 2014 please do not hesitate in giving us a call. Early preparation is the key and now is the ideal time.

Call or email for a free valuation without obligation.

Happy New Year to one and all.

The Abode Team.