Farmhouse or mansion on demand

There are people looking for their dream property with views of the Alps on Google Maps prior to moving to Monferrato or the Langhe, where there is no shortage of opportunities
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The search for houses in the country shows no signs of slowing down in Montferrat-the Langue and Roero. “In recent times, working from home has consolidated and driven demand yet further, especially in smaller towns. Properties in good condition and in prime locations are particularly sought-after. This increase in demand is driving prices up,” explains Marco Pusceddu, president of the Piedmont Italian Federation of Professional Estate Agents (FIAIP), to Ville&Casali. “A new focus on quality of life is one of the reasons for the trend to buy in the countryside, in the hills, far from crowded urban hubs”. And government incentives have further bolstered a buoyant property market. “The under 36 bonus with ISEE (Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator) under €40,000 has allowed many young people and couples to take their first step on the property ladder”, continues Pusceddu, “while the tax concessions on renovations, like the Sismabonus and the Superbonus 110%, have led to the renovation of many old and dilapidated buildings. The 110 measure, although complex to implement, has rekindled interest in old properties, which until recently were largely unappealing or had completely disappeared from the property market. This has helped to regenerate streets or entire areas and revitalise investments”. This trend is also confirmed by Maria Cristina Oggero, owner of the estate agents Verde Abitare in Mombercelli (AT). “The perfect house - one that is sold in the blink of an eye - is a renovated property with expertly-restored original features, while in recent years there has also been growing interest in energy-efficient renovated homes, such as properties boasting solar panels or highly efficient heating systems powered by renewable resources. Prices for a 300 - 700-square metre farmhouse with pool located in a tranquil rural setting start from €500,000 - €600,000 and peak at €1.5 million. Judging by the recent and unexpected success of the short-term rental market for villas and farmhouses, prices are set to rise. The majority of buyers of our properties put their house up for rent on the well-known tourist rental websites, at extremely profitable rates, and the trend is growing”. Finally, according to the expert, “Around half of my buyers come from Italy (Milan and Turin) and the other half from Northern Europe (particularly the Netherlands and Belgium), while interest from Scandinavia is in decline”. “For us, the traditional property of the heart of Montferrat is the farmhouse,” explains Emanuele Mondo from the estate agents Emmeffe of Montegrosso d’Asti, “particularly early twentieth century, rectangular, two-storey brick properties with a cellar. This type of house accounts for 90 percent of our property sales in the countryside: properties that have been sympathetically renovated in the last ten years using traditional materials befitting of the era and put back on the second home market”. And here the estate agent points out the consumers’ changing taste: “In the 1970s and 1980s, it was fashionable to cover exposed walls with wood, but now buyers from overseas prefer to remove the plaster to enjoy the exposed brick. Everyone is looking for open-plan living and bright living rooms”. Prices vary depending on whether the farmhouse (200 square metres) is detached (the most sought-after type): “from €80,000 to €100,000 for a property ripe for renovation, up to €320,000 for a fully renovated house. However, prices exceed €350,000 to €400,000 if the property boasts at least 300 square metres, is in a prime location, benefits from a terrace or swimming pool, courtyard, woodland or a small half-a-hectare vineyard”. The most sought-after locations? Agliano Terme, Costigliole d’Asti and Calosso, all in the province of Asti. Finally, buyers from Turin and Milan tend to favour a semi-detached, 100-square metre cottage worth in the region of €60,000-€70,000, on top of which an average of at least €1,200 per square metre can be added for renovation costs. According to Marco Valerio Baldovino, owner of the estate agents Baldovino of Moncalvo, traditional Piedmontese farmhouses are also in great demand in the Montferrat provinces of Asti and Alessandria, particularly in Moncalvo, Ottiglio, Grazzano Badoglio and Vignale Monferrato. “Fully renovated properties are the most popular, preferably in Cantone stone (tuff). Most people are looking for a 200-square metre, two-story house, plus basement and cellar, on a plot suitable for building a swimming pool. Prices range from €200,000 to €400,000.” 

If the trend for farmhouses has been consolidated, “the demand for estates (with vineyards or woods) comprising a property recently renovated in the last few years is definitely on the rise,” explains Rosalba Borello Vallarino Gancia from Internau Monferrato, because renovation costs are currently high and unpredictable due to long waiting times. Demand can range from 8 to 80 hectares of land (from €500,000 to €3 million) in Cocconato d’Asti, Moncalvo, Canelli and Nizza Monferrato. Residents of Milan and Turin in their forties dream of this type of property as their future home and business hub. Perhaps executives who work from home and take a plane to the office once or twice a week”. For them, houses on the edge of the villages of Montferrat (Montemagno, Scurzolengo, Vignale Monferrato), boasting 0.2 hectares of land (for the pool), at a price ranging from €80,000 to €400,000 - €500,000 (if renovated), are also highly sought-after. Demand for mansions in Montferrat is also finally on the up after years of stagnation. “Whether from professional architects commissioned by hotel chains (measuring 4,000 to 6,000 square metres) set in leafy parks, or from families from Milan and Turin looking for a luxury 1,500-square metre residence to call home. Prices range from €2 million to €6 million”, concludes the estate agent from Internau Monferrato. We have so far focussed on Montferrat, which has yet to undergo further development and property price rises, “but the Langhe is a completely different ball game all together because the vineyards of Barolo exceed a valuation of €2 million per hectare and all the related activities carry significantly higher values,” explain Alessandro Matarozzo and Stefania Emanuel, License Partners of Engel & Völkers of the Langhe, Monferrato and Roero. “Here there are more luxury and prestigious services and amenities, including relais hotels and resorts, and the highest concentration of award-winning restaurants in the world in the so-called ‘food Valley’. The town of Alba is the region’s main tourist hub, welcoming around 120,000 visitors at the weekend during the Truffle Fair. Barolo wine, truffle, Ferrero wine and Miroglio fashion are the four pillars on which the wealth of the Langhe is based. Together with the villages that make up a wine cru network: La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, Neive and Barbaresco. The most sought-after property is a 300-500-square metre twentieth-century farmhouse, including in Pietra di Langa, tastefully renovated using original materials, in a prime location with views of the Alps and with a vineyard, set in unspoilt countryside. Prices range from €1 million to €3 million. It is interesting that many buyers from overseas now go to Google Maps to choose their desired location with views of the Monviso mountain, and then ask us to find a property in that exact location, even if it is a ruin in need of complete refurbishment”. Engel & Völkers, for example, has an exclusive "gem" for sale in Monforte d’Alba: a historic 2,000-square metre, five-storey building with one thousand-year-old fortified walls and a 400-square metre terrace boasting views of Montferrat and the Langhe all the way to the Alps, in the old town, and fully renovated, part of which can be converted to a luxury 10-15-room hotel. The price is in excess of €7 million.

Published on Ville&Casali October 2022
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