“To buy is to compromise”, an undeniable truth

Blog buying property in Umbria

To actually get to making a deal and selling a property we often have to conquer many difficulties. Bureaucratic obstacles, language barriers, practical challenges, we can tell lots of stories about all of them. In reality however the most important one seems to be overlooked by both buyers and sellers. Very often deals are not happening because buyers are simply not willing to compromise in any way. And as especially property for a budget up to €500.000,- is getting hard to find we find ourselves in a difficult situation.

Many buyers often look in vain for a house with features that are similar to the ones of the property they have at home. Forgetting they are not in the U.S., northern Europe or even Australia. Most of these buyers have fallen in love with romantic ideas about countryside living. Some of them are house hunting hoping to find a nice property within a historic center, with a garden of course. And it is not unusual for them to check out even up to 70 properties before either deciding or disappearing all together.

Does that mean that only number 70 finally offered what they were looking for? Or could it be the number finally convinced them of something we knew from the start? And for those people that don’t end up buying, what happens to them?

First of all this being Italy, and Umbria being a lovely holiday destination we often have “clients” that do some window shopping. Especially in the warm season many tourists enjoy their surroundings and picture themselves living here in a more permanent way. Overcome by enthusiasm and cheered on by the locals they meet buying a house seems no less than the logical next step. But returning home goes hand in hand with going back to reality. And their dreams are what they were, just dreams.

Of the serious buyers our recent requests show that their wish lists are not of the modest kind. As the standard of living in other counties is ever rising many people are used to the great advantages of modern living. Floor heating and cooling. Trendy bathrooms. Large windows and open space floor plans. Design features and splendid kitchens where the whole happy family can be together. Connected of course to an idyllic garden with stunning pool and view as well. Quaint features, but just for the looks of it, as in the end they all want hardcore comfort and no-nonsense practicality hidden behind a veil of charm. Falling in love is replaced by an very pragmatic approach.

Here in Umbria however houses were never built with all of this in mind. Houses were built as farmhouses. Stables on the ground floor and living quarters up-stairs. Or they used to be medieval watchtowers, monasteries or even abbeys. That explains why for example bungalows are non-existent. Building was done with stone and in authentic houses you will therefor not come across an A or even F energy label.  Windows were used for air and light, not for the view and will be relatively small. By no means equal to the modern houses with for example huge sliding glass walls. The old houses in general have many add-ons on all sides and uneven floors throughout the buildings. Kitchens and bathrooms are often not up to date, but  a simple make-over can take care of details like that.

Still potential buyers like all Umbria has to offer but prefer to buy an in general more convenient and finished home. The pool should be conveniently located right next to the house, but out of sight in the wintertime. An authentic old home would be great, but without all those steps and small separate rooms please! A view is only created by a dominant position atop a sloping plot, but the new buyers think sloping land is uncomfortable.

Part of the “Italian dream” is to have that perfect property at just the right distance of a quaint village. To walk up to for a cappuccino or aperitivo. But farmhouses are mostly located in the countryside. The very few homes that do indeed lie close to a village are also what the local Italian market is looking for and hardly ever available. Every wants to dine under a fairytale pergola but if it’s not there already potential buyers seem incapable of imagining one.

The demands seem endless and it is needless to say we are unable to meet most of them in one package. Unless you are willing and able to pay for those few properties that tick most of the boxes but those properties are mostly out of reach. Buyers will have to understand we do not have any “comparables” in Umbria. The same house but in another location or with another position or view. They will have to acknowledge that living in Umbria comes with living in an Umbrian house, with different features.

First and foremost however buyers would do well realising that one way or the other in the end somethings gotta give…! Whether the price, the size, the windows, the shape of the pool, the garden or whatever other feature. Part of the local charme is to be found in the core of the properties we sell. And inherent to this to buy means one will have to compromise.



Compare listings