Buying a property in Sulmona and the Valle Peligna

We’ve noticed an increase – year on year – of people wanting to buy property here in the Sulmona area.  A fair amount of positive press recently about the attractions of the region as a whole, has certainly added to the interest from abroad.

So who is buying here?

We have seen a variety of buyer profiles. Mostly we think they are second home buyers – near to retirement or early retired perhaps – who spend time here on and off throughout the year. The Brits come every few months, the Australians for example come for an extended period over the summer. Some of those buyers then retire here permanently taking residency if required. A significant number of those buyers would appear to be ‘Italiani di Ritorno’ i.e. those with Abruzzese heritage.

Permanent, long-term residents are not that common although every year another few join our little club. Some families with school aged children do choose to make a permanent move although this particular demographic is not well represented here.

Who can buy in Italy?

There is no restriction on who can buy a property here but there are restrictions on how long you can spend in the country (and indeed within the Schengen Zone) if you are not a legal resident or a citizen of an EU member state. Bear that in mind if you are planning to spend extended periods of time at your property or to make a permanent move as a retiree.

A Home in the Valley - Welcome to Sulmona

What kind of properties are people looking for?

Essentially there are three main propositions: Sulmona central, village life or countryside with land. Each one offers a different type of accommodation. Central Sulmona buyers are generally looking for apartments in old palazzi, preferably with a balcony or a terrace. Village houses tend to be small, vertical, stone buildings with maybe a small yard or garden. Country houses are detached, sometimes former farm buildings, and often have a small olive grove or ‘frutteto’ (orchard) with space for a proper vegetable patch or some vines. Each typology offers something different and it simply depends on how you want (or don’t want!) to spend your time. Properties in Sulmona’s historic centre tend to be more expensive than the others however so do consider outside of town if you have a smaller budget.

How buoyant is the market?

Properties do not move quickly here and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s not unusual for a house to be on the market for years before it sells. This is for a number of reasons. Properties marketed at foreigners can be overpriced and those in the more remote locations have limited appeal to the local market. If you see something you like, make plans to come back and see it again in a different season and explore the area a little better. If you have decided on an area, but have not yet found your dream property, consider renting for a period of a few months and continue to look in slow time.

A Home in the Valley - Welcome to Sulmona

Is buying property in Abruzzo a good investment?

That would depend on who you talk to… Properties don’t move quickly whether you are a buyer or a seller. The may be some uplift in the market over time but nowhere near the figures we are used to back home. Some people who have bought at the right price, have been clever with their renovations and have then presented it well for resale, have done nicely but it won’t make you rich! Consider your property to be a longer-term proposition rather than any quick scheme for monetary gain.  

Where are these properties advertised?

If you are lucky these will be advertised on international property websites and you can do some proper research from back home. Alternatively take a look at one of the English language real estate agencies that operate out of Italy. Generally these two types of websites will present the property with all of the info that you need and want.

Some of the local agencies have websites but you may find that the info is both rather basic and usually in Italian plus the type of property advertised will be geared more towards the Italian rather than the foreign market. Italians prefer to conduct their business face-to-face so expect to do this type of property hunting while you are here and can visit the various local agencies in person.

Then there are the private sales… in Italy the agent is paid by both the buyer and the seller and so there is a strong culture of private sales – especially in smallish towns and villages where most people know each other. A small ‘Vendesi’ sign outside and a phone number is usually all that is required. Certainly you can call the number to arrange a viewing but unless your Italian is proficient, and you know your way around the system, then you will need to enlist help at some stage of the buying process. These private sales are usually priced favourably so don’t rule this out as an effective approach.

We have some private sales advertised on our own website here.

A Home in the Valley - Welcome to Sulmona

The buying process

If you buy via an agent, they will take care of the paperwork and all of the formalities for you. You will need to get a Codice Fiscale (Italian tax code), open an Italian bank account if you don’t already have a Euro account, and either arrange to be here to sign the purchase documents yourself or nominate a legal proxy to do this on your behalf.  

The buying process is certainly different, and can take some time, so make sure you are up to speed with all of the stages and enlist some professional help if necessary.

You will need a Notaio (notary public) to formalise your purchase but not necessarily a lawyer or an attorney.  

Do bear in mind that if you don’t speak Italian, you must – by law – have an interpreter with you when you sign and a copy of the purchase documents translated into English, for it to be legal. If you need an interpreter, get in touch: we have experience in the field of legal translation and will be happy to help you settle!

There is a lot of info online (not all of it consistent) for you to do your own research:

Transport links and accessibility

Although the province of L’Aquila is the only one in Abruzzo not to share some of the Adriatic coastline, it has plenty of advantages over its rivals. Apart from its proximity to Rome and the international airports there, we have some of the best skiing, Sulmona sits between 3 of the major National Parks and we can still be at the seaside in around an hour. For many centuries Sulmona used to be a major trading hub sitting on the junction of the Puglia to Florence ‘Transumanza’ sheep routes and the Rome to Adriatic road. The train station is a little outside the centre of the town but it’s a useful service nevertheless.

Many people, especially the Brits, choose to fly from London’s Stansted to Pescara but don’t forget the alternative airports on this side of the country at Ancona to the North and at Bari to the South.

We have written the definitive guide to travelling from Rome’s airports to Sulmona: check it out here.

The new Tuscany?

We’re not quite sure what that means to be honest. That it’s a popular place for foreigners to buy? That it is similar to that region in some way? That it is soon to become a property hot spot for speculators? If you already know Italy, you will appreciate that each region is very different to the others. Abruzzo has its own unique charm and the Sulmona area specifically enjoys a strategic position from which to enjoy the wider region – and it’s only a couple of hours from Rome to boot.


About The Author

The WTS Team

Written and curated by bi-lingual partnership Katy Gorman and Susanna Iraci, Welcome To Sulmona is the first born and remains the best-loved child of their marketing & communications consultancy ‘Quid Novi'. They enjoy researching and creating copy for their own website alongside that of the other many guest authors. More often than not Katy is ‘words’ and Susanna ‘pictures’. Katy Gorman: Ex-pat Anglo-American, Quid Novi wordsmith, English teacher & resident of Sulmona since 2009. Susanna Iraci: Marchigiana, Quid Novi visual designer & photographer - also resident of Sulmona since 2009.

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