Lake Como is attracting investors from Milan

Not only has the pandemic affected demand, but it has also caused prices to rise and drawn investors from Milan
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The Milanese have invaded Lake Como. First it was overseas investors, and now the Milanese - who had been missing for the best part of a lifetime - to return en masse. The pandemic has changed both the look of the property market, with people primarily seeking a garden, terrace and more indoor space, as well as the key players. When free movement is no longer possible and people remain confined to their homes cut off from their villa in Sardinia or their seafront property in Liguria, the need for a plan B - a holiday home in the same region - arises. With this in mind, as well as the fear of future restrictions being imposed, inhabitants of Milan are flocking to Lake Como, just 40 km from the city. These new needs have led to an increase in demand and soaring property prices on the Lake Como market, particularly in the luxury sector, where the property crisis is just a distant memory. The luxury estate agents interviewed by Ville&Casali shed light on today’s important trends and explain which are the most popular areas. “A lot of space, light and fresh air are the current trends dominating the property market. People are primarily looking for spacious homes away from the city with private garden, in a safe and peaceful location, as well as bright apartments with terrace and beautiful panoramic views,” explains Marina Yakovleva Rizzotto, Sole Director of Palazzo Estate Srl, who this year has become the exclusive Lake Como agent for “Emma Villas”, Italy’s number one luxury rental property estate agent. “Demand for luxury properties far exceeds supply. Properties that have been on the market for years have sold over the last few months. The most sought-after areas are the larger lakeside towns – Como and Lecco – as well as the smaller nearby towns of Cernobbio, Moltrasio, Blevio and Torno. For anyone looking for relaxation, stunning scenery and good food, I would recommend the strip from Laglio to Argegno and from Cremia to Dervio. Bellagio and Varenna are also beautiful.” “Property prices are highest around the city of Como, at the southern tip of the lake, and tend to fall the further north you go,” continues Mrs Rizzotto, “with prices varying significantly depending on the type of property and location”. Who is investing? “Interest has recently come primarily from northern Europe and from Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia in particular, especially if they can come and view the properties by car instead of by plane,” continues Rizzotto. “Russian investors have also returned in the last few months. Lake Como’s luxury property market is also being closely watched by the large hotel chains, with a growing array of services and attractions like water taxis, helicopters, small planes and starred restaurants, of which there are now six: two in Como and the others in Cernobbio, Torno, Bellagio and Blevio. “The pandemic has changed what people are looking for. Now people want a house with one or two extra rooms for a home office and an online learning room for the children, but they do not want to be more than 15 minutes from the city. Perhaps residents of Milan, 40 km from here, would like to have a second home and invest in Como, ready to move to the lake should the problems of COVID return,” reflects Tania Morabito, Managing Director of Reale Domus, exclusive partner of Knight Frank for Italy’s northern lakes and leading global brand of Lake Como, who is responsible for sales, rentals in excess of one year and aftersales property management


Our clients are both Italian and international, although Russian investors are in decline due to the limits imposed on the export of foreign currency,” continues Mrs Morabito. “Our clients are demanding more outside space in the great outdoors, but also privacy and a high quality finish. While residents of Como are looking for properties ripe for renovation, overseas investors are predominantly looking for turnkey villas which, if on the lakefront, will cost between €8,000 and €15,000/€20,000 per square metre for a new-build or a house renovated to the highest standards (southern end of the lake and Tremezzina). In other words, a villa on Lake Como costs a lot more today than it would have done 10 years ago.” For Tania Morabito, now is the time to invest as luxury properties are selling fast, with demand outstripping supply. With the pandemic, the number of people with a personal net worth in excess of $30 million increased by 2.4% in 2020, while property prices are on the rise following COVID-19. “We are selling at premium prices because the trend is on the up,” concludes the Managing Director of Reale Domus|KnightFrank.To give you an example, a 500-m2 lakefront villa built at the turn of the century sold in 2017 for less than €4 million. Now fully renovated, it recently sold for around €9 million, more than twice the price.” “The city of Como with its lake and surrounding mountains is an ever-popular tourist destination, where you can buy a property that will very easily make money, making it a good investment,” comments Lucia Zingarelli, Provincial President of the Como Italian Federation of Professional Estate Agents (Fiaip), who confirms the mass arrival of the Milanese. She adds that: “The price of luxury villas has gone up, but I do not think that it is just because of the pandemic. The trend has always been positive here. If anything, the way Italians think about the home has changed. People have realised that having a villa with pool is a question of quality of life, and they are now looking for a little corner of paradise.” Another expert to confirm to Ville&Casali the great influx of Milan residents to Lake Como is Francesca Levrini, owner of Studio Levrini, an estate agents that has overseen the selling and rental of luxury and standard properties for more than 30 years. “Last year, demand from residents of Milan, which has been lacking for so many years, suddenly went through the roof thanks to COVID. They are looking for a house with garden or an apartment with terrace.” By way of example, our Milanese clients have rented villas with swimming pool costing in excess of €15,000 per month for three months, many that sleep 12, in order to accommodate the whole family or friends. And overseas investors? “They are in decline, particularly American investors,” explains Mrs Levrini. “However, demand from northern Europe has increased.” Francesca Levrini then reveals a safe investment: “Large villas, often bought for personal use or to be turned into luxury mini-hotels, can be a great money-maker, especially if right on the lake.


The pandemic has also led to a sharp increase in Milanese interest according to Mauro Delli Quadri, Sole Director of immobiliarecomo srl, who oversees the selling and rental of luxury properties in the city of Como, the lake and the surrounding area. He explains: “In 2020, I sold properties to several couples from Milan, many of whom had sold their, let’s say, 90-m2 apartment in the city to buy a 200-m2 property in Como for the same price.” Mr Delli Quadri also agrees that post-pandemic tastes have changed: “The historic old town used to be top of the list, but this has been replaced by the need for a terrace or garden and an extra room to use as a home office, while many are looking for properties around the city of Como and in areas like Capiago Intimiano, Montorfano, San Fermo della Battaglia, Cavallasca and Brunate.” COVID has not only affected peoples tastes, but has also led them to rediscover certain values and the simple pleasures of living in a house in the country. This is confirmed by Antonino Papa, Managing Director of Ville&Dintorni based in Carimate, in the province of Como, the land of golf and magnificent villas, comprising around 600 individual family homes, which are bought as a first home partly thanks to the improved Pedemontana motorway network (Carimate is just 30 minutes from Milan by car). Ville&Dintorni oversees the sale of villas, as well as luxury rentals in excess of one year, over a wide area that encompasses Brianza, Comasco, Varesotto, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, and Monferrato. According to Mr Papa, “Demand has increased in Carimate, and so have prices. A villa that would have cost €700,000 is now selling for one and a half million. Demand for farmsteads has also risen.” Mr Papa also agrees that the time to invest is now. Confirming the trend for country living is Immobiliare Castello, also based in Carimate, stating that “the desire to live in a house with garden shall always retain a certain charm.” 


Published on Ville&Casali September 2021
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