SELLING A HOUSE IN ITALY
We’re still trying to figure out the best way to market our house for sale. It’s trial and error, hoping and praying, relying on the good will of friends and family, seeking advice from those who have done this before.
It’s a strange process, selling a house in Italy. Things here are still so localized, and even with the internet to help us, it’s still hard to know how to best reach those who might be our potential clients.
Italy doesn’t have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like we do in the states. Although there are a few real estate franchises, such as TECNOCASA, each office still deals with it’s own specific area. The Tecnocasa agent won’t show houses listed with other companies, which obviously puts the burden on the buyer to find the right property on their own.
Additionally, Italian real estate companies often require an exclusive agreement, which would of course limit the number of people who would see information about our house. I guess if you list with an agency with a good client base and a high internet rating it’s not a problem, but still, it seems so difficult to try to find that one special person who’ll love our house and our town as much as we do.
Italians don’t move nearly as much as Americans do. Houses stay in the same family for generations. Perhaps the younger people are beginning to move away from the family hometown for school or a job, but this is a slow process, still strange to most Italians we know.
When we bought our house it had been the summer home of a man who now lives in Bologna. His brother and sister jointly own the other half of the house, and they too live in Bologna. The family has roots here in San Venanzo though, and this is where they grew up. Coming back “home” to San Venanzo every August is a ritual repeated all over Italy each year.
Because no one in the family was interested in what is now our house, and because no one else in town was interested in it, we doubt that an Italian will buy it. For this reason we’ve concentrated our energies on marketing our house to foreigners…Americans, Canadians, Australians, and of course citizens of the European Union.
The British pound is quite strong against the euro. For this reason we thought this, and the fact that the Perugia airport is now served by Ryan Air, might bring us a buyer from Great Britain. We advertised in ITALY MAGAZINE but got only a few inquiries. At about $90 an ad, this isn’t something we can afford to do if it’s not going to produce results.
It was suggested to us that we advertise in some of the English newspapers, but my concern is that an ad in something like the THE TIMES would be seen by only those living in the greater London area. Although that might be a considerable number of people, I’m still not sure that it would be the best place to spend our advertising money.
I’ve also considered placing an ad in the THE NEW YORK TIMES, but once again, these ads aren’t cheap, and I know from personal experience that the real estate ads are only published in the New York City area, thus severely limiting the scope of our advertising dollars.
I’ve placed internet ads on several Craig’s List sites, on the SLOW TRAVEL WEBSITE, on various expats message boards like EXPATS IN ITALY, and on assorted other expat internet venues like HOMES ON SALE, ESTAPLACE, THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE and WANTED IN ROME.
Various other sites have been suggested, but most of them are sites I've never heard of or come across during my searches, so I don't think it's worth the bother.
I try to post on the blog regularly so that it’ll come up in internet searches. My sister helped me design a trifold brochure that we’ve passed out, sent to local B&B’s and carry with us, just in case we happen to meet someone who’s “just looking”. Our friends Larry and Jill, who sell their wonderful PHOTOS OF ITALY at the weekly outdoor market in Redmond WA, have handed out quite a few brochures for us.
Additionally we’ve received some nice publicity when James Martin wrote about our house on his WANDERING ITALY BLOG and when Kathy McCabe who produces the DREAM OF ITALY NEWSLETTER wrote about our house on HER BLOG.
We expected it to take a least a year to sell our house. We realize that many people are doing internet searches just like we did, and might be anywhere in the world. We realize that it may take a while for someone who does find our house on the internet or who sees a brochure to actually travel to Italy to see it in person. We know all these things but still….!!!!
I’ve been disappointed that we haven’t had more inquiries, but I’m not sure what our next move should be. Our friend Giacomo will be putting his real estate website on the internet soon, and our house will be listed there, but I’m not sure that as a brand new company the site will be indexed high enough to come up on the search engines.
And so the challenge continues. Maybe we ARE doing what we should be doing and just need to be patient, but it's hard to know for sure. There's a link in the right hand colum of this blog which will always take you to the post about the house. (removed when the house sold!)
We’ll keep trying to think of creative ways to market our house, and to talk it up whenever possible. If you have any ideas we haven’t mentioned, we’d be happy to hear them!