The head vs heart approach to property hunting


Buying or selling a home is often a heartfelt journey. We love getting to know our clients and helping them overcome hurdles and hiccups that come hand-in-hand with all things property related here in Italy.

My favourite part of our job is hunting for properties for clients, helping fulfil someone’s dream of having a home or business here. It can sometimes lead to disappointment, with buyers changing their minds or circumstances changing but when it all comes together, it’s a magical thing.

The way it works in Italy is that both the buyer and seller pay a commission to the agent, this means it is easy to work with other real estate agencies to widen the net for clients. Ours is a friendly town, with a friendly approach to working together, so we often collaborate with other agents and so see them as colleagues as opposed to rivals. When we are property hunting for a client we act for the buyer and the other agent represents the seller.

As a buyer, at the start of your search you will have a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘would be nice’ criteria. Unless the budget is joyously limitless the criteria will often need to be adapted and updated with a few things dropping from the list. As you view more places, the wish list will start coming to life, as you learn more about the area and style of home you want.  How we went from wanting a country house in the middle of the hills, to buying a town house in the historic centre, is a whole other story for another day.

A few years ago, we had some clients who had been looking for a long time before we met them.  They had already fallen in love with a home but things didn’t work out so they were feeling a bit jaded and were on the verge of giving up. In the office one afternoon, in a last ditch effort to find them their dream home, I put together a selection of wildcard options (I watch a lot of property shows). After a brief discussion about the fact that none of these ticked all the boxes, I sent them off and within half an hour got enthusiastic feedback about one particular farmhouse. A few days later, on a bitingly cold winter’s morning, Pierluigi and I met with the  other agent and looked around the house. I loved it. Pierluigi thought it was interesting.

We got back to the office and both wrote emails to the buyers. Mine described the stunning views and explained how, despite needing some work inside, the house had a really good feeling and that it flowed really well. Pierluigi’s expressed concern over a boundary issue with the neighbour and that some structural elements would need to be checked out by a geometra (a sort of cross between an architect and a surveyor). Less than a week later, the clients flew over to see it for themselves.

Long story short, they bought it and made it fabulous. With our project management assistance, they updated the pool, added a stunning outdoor living room and truly with the gods on their side, found the most beautiful kitchen, on sale, which fitted perfectly and is now the heart of the home.

The fact is, when you’re searching for a home you need both heart and head to find the perfect place. The heart sees the vision of what it could be and whether it feels right and the head,  very crucially, holds the heart at bay whilst it ensures that all of the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted.  Ensuring your home is legal – now that’s another blog…

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