From purchase to earthquake

Our first blog – Starting our adventure! Will be followed by our second blog of further research, purchasing the property, choosing the technicians and unfortunately also the Terremotto (earthquake) in Central Italy in 2016.

With positive feelings w both looking back to our long weekend of finding properties in Le Marche. In spite of being tired, we get a lot of energy of this possible new project. Our last impression of the object in Cossignano is getting more and more in our head. Especially the location and the views – but it remains a challenge to look ‘through’ it. Is it an idea to go back to confirm our feelings? We don’t think about that long, within 2 days the tickets have been booked. We will return in mid-November. Meanwhile we will explore the possibilities further. The first questions we put on the mail to our real estate agent Luca of Abitare Real Estate. Luca also makes an appointment with Anne of Viva La Casa with the engineer (Geomatra) of the municipality. This Geomatra supervises the zoning plan of the construction and renovation in Cossignano.

Not only the location might be interesting, also the price. The location is close to the coast, you drive down from the mountain and in only 20 minutes through a provincial road you are at the “Riviera delle Palme” in Grottammare. Having tourism is an important source of income, but in the immediate vicinity there is a lot of activity that provides other employment too. The fact that this area is heavily aging is therefore of less concern. Larger cities such as San Benedetto del Tronto and Ascoli Piceno with facilities as an ‘ospedale’ are also nearby. Places like Offida, Ripatransone, Montefiore dell’Aso and other picturesque villages are a short distance.

And from the (future) backyard you have a view to the mountains with in wintertime the snow on the peaks. Hiking is possible and even skiing. Of course not like the many km’s of slopes in Austria. No, for a larger ski area with 246 km of slopes a 3-hour trip to Abruzzo is necessary.

Whatever the time of year, the location provides plenty of variety in activities due to the proximity of mountains, towns, sea & beach. Fantastic, isn’t it?

We think that a road nearby can be positive; the location is not isolated and can be reached in two ways. In this part of Italy quite a lot of snow can fall in one day. The municipality has limited resources with a snow plan to keep all roads clean – this is only the case with through roads. In the end the road isn’t used that much. Only traffic from Cossignano to Montalto delle Marche will pass. We noticed this not only at different times by ourselves but others also confirmed.

Via a mud road parallel to the house the neighbour drives over the plot to the vineyard. Problems can arise with easement – has the right of way been acquired through years of use? There is also not an entrance. Can a new entrance be arranged and not via our neighbour’s plot? And 2 meters next to the main road, the land is owned by the Province. Consultation and permission is then required. Eventually we find out that the owner of a plot of land without an existing entrance must always have the opportunity to create an own entrance. Even if it runs over the plot of land owned by the Province.

And the sunshine? Of course in winter time the sun is lower and the house is on a north slope. To what height will the sun arise in summertime – and does this cover the plot totally and moreover the future swimming pool? Is the plot correct registered both contents and dimensions and have licenses  been granted. What will be the development plan and who are the current owners? Are there still debts on the plot, is a water connection and even a connection to electricity nearby. And is the municipality cooperative and flexible. Also important the foundation of the ruin as the old farmhouse will not just become a ruin.

Via email we ask the estate agent all these questions. Fortunately, he is familiar with the English language, although Anne’s help is a welcome addition. Soon we receive the most important answers. The property is listed as a ruin in the land register, a big advantage on the (lower) transfer tax when purchasing. The tax is calculated on the purchase price and not on the land register value. In the meantime we also received a copy of the land register drawings showing that it concerns several plots of land, some of which can be merged to 1.

2 weeks before traveling to Cossignano again, the real estate agent made an appointment with Anne with the Geomatra of the municipality. A number of important aspects will be discussed. The house is of historical value, a municipal monument and needs to be restored while preserving the original. At least of what is still standing. The parts that no longer exists, can be more flexible in design – of course in consultation – but larger windows and sliding doors are possible – the view from the back of the house to the valley will be maximum. The ruin has a so-called A classification.

The ruin can only be restored so the building costs are higher. The municipality therefore advises us to leave the property for a number of years in the hope that it will continue to collapse. After all, parts that collapse further do not need to be restored! There are only a limited number of photographs of the object in the archive of the municipality. After purchasing the property it is important to measure the ruin and to record details such as the size of the window frames, doorways and facades. The documentation with an extensive photographic report should then be provided to the municipality in order to prevent as much as possible discussions afterwards.

Inside there are no restrictions, only that the design is made for 1 house and the house may not be divided into 2 apartments. Subsidies are not available. Although the municipality has an extensive geological report of the areas at risk in Cossignano, further geological research is recommended to determine the foundation. The area is divided from P1 to P4. P4 has the highest risk of landslides. Fortunately, the object is located on the edge of a P2/P3 area; with a good and correct foundation, the construction of a house is possible. In addition to the foundation, planting trees with deep roots would also provide a solution for a stable subsoil.

At this stage in the process, we think that it is necessary to discuss the fee with the real estate agent and to put it in writing. Please note that the broker operates as well  for the buyer and seller at the same time. In case of a successful transaction, the broker’s office receives commission from both parties. But can the real estate agent then be independent?

It is November 2015 when we travel to Le Marche for our second visit. We also planned an appointment to introduce ourselves to the Geomatra of the municipality to get the answers confirmed ‘with our own eyes’. It was only a short visit, but our good feelings were confirmed and strengthened our upcoming adventure. The same weekend we decided to make an offer.

For the transfer and registration of real estate in Italy it is necessary to be in possession of an Italian tax number (codice fiscale). Via an online application form we arranged this number via the Italian Embassy within a few weeks.

An Italian bank account number is also required. In the weekend of our second visit we immediately made an appointment with an Italian bank to open an account. For future payments to the contractor, architect, paying (local) taxes etc. we advise you to pay this via your own local bank account number. We experience the costs of having an Italian bank account as high and the online (Dutch) banking system is slightly better.

According to our real estate agent there was still some space for negotiation; we lowered the opening offer. It was expected that a possible agreement would take a long time, but after a few weeks – before Christmas 2015 – our offer was accepted. We will now become the owner of a ruin on a plot of 5,000m2 in Italy! When an agreement is reached, a deposit is often requested. We made our offer without a deposit, there are a number of risks paying a deposit.

The exact border of the plot was still unclear. Great…we can plan another trip to Cossignano 🙂 Not just the two of us, but with the whole family. Finally we expect the holiday home to become a place for ‘tutti famiglia’. At the end of January 2016 we flew to Ancona with the whole family. The next day in the afternoon an appointment has been planned with the estate agent and the Geomatra in Cossignano. One of the current owners, the oldest of the family, is also present. Anne will again take care of the translations. With GPS measuring equipment the coordinates for the new plot will be determined. Wooden poles are driven into the ground to mark the new border. It looks kind of awesome; our kids helping with the placement of the poles.

After our approval, the ‘new’ plot was official registered the same week.

An appointment with Wolf Toussaint is scheduled one day later. We know him through other Dutch people who have already purchased. He will do independent research and perform a legal check on the property (land register, current situation and (previous) owners). He will also translate the legal documents such as zoning plan. A witness who speaks our mother language is required for the transaction at the notary, Wolff also organized this. He contacts the notary who is arranged by the estate agent. The notary conducts further investigation into any (mortgage) charges and/or debts on the property in advance.

After our third visit, things went into overdrive. Soon we received a confirmation with the date of transfer at the notary office in San Benedetto Del Tronto. We will receive a complete overview of the calculations of payments to be paid to the owners, the notary, real estate agent and the transfer tax. We forward this to the bank so that the cheques can be prepared. A few days prior to the transfer we transferred the amount to our Italian bank account.

And then it’s March 14, 2016. The day of the transfer. We have planned a two-day visit via Rome. From the airport we drive directly to the bank in Ortezzano to pick up the registered cheques necessary for the transfer. At the agreed time everyone will be present.

In Italy the notarial deed is still read out totally – in the Italian language of course. But with the translated document we can follow it very well. After signing and handing over the cheques, our real estate agent comes with a surprise. It turns out that the classification of the ruin can be converted from class A to class B. This means more flexibility in restoration and demolition and perhaps lower costs. This has to be requested by an engineer via a form from the Province. In the end, after 1.5 years the new classification has been established.

Then the long day ended on the beautiful square in Ascoli Piceno with the locally known fried olives (Olive all’Ascolana) and a glass of Pecorino.

In the summer of 2016 we travelled back to Le Marche. This time as a large landowner 🙂 nice to walk on your own plot. During this holiday we also made some appointments, for example with engineer Vitale of Grisostomi.com. His Geomatra can help us with measuring and documenting the ruin as advised by the municipality. But first the many bushes and a number of trees has to be removed. A job that will be done by fellow villagers who have the right equipment.

Finally the plot has been cleaned in September 2016 and the Geomatra provided the comlete documentation with drawings and a lot of necessary photographic material to the municipality Cossiganano. Fortunately because on 26 October 2016 there was a strong earthquake in central Italy. In the early morning we received some photos from our neighbor showing the a part of the ruin was further collapsed. Of course we would have preferred that it has collapsed for other reasons…

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Starting our adventure.

As long I can remember, I’m interested in the houses offered by the foreign estate agents. One day I will have the opportunity to buy a holiday home abroad.

A Few years ago friends informed us about the region Le Marche in Italy. They visited Le Marche a few times and were very enthusiastic about this region – especially this part of Italy has not flooded by a lot of foreign tourists yet. We decided to travel to Le Marche for our next holiday. And from then we spend more than eight years our holidays, in different locations in Le Marche – from the north to the south, but especially the southern part between Ancona and Pescara, in the triangle of Grottammare, Offida and Montefiore dell’Aso.

Often we rented our holiday homes by Viva la Case of Anne Klein Severt who emigrated to this part of Italy. In 2015 we also spent our May holiday in Le Marche. And perhaps triggered by some Dutch television programs where people are emigrating to a foreign country and renting out holiday homes, we were even more excited. During our stay in Le Marche, we often saw old houses and ruins in the countryside. Therefor we asked Anne several questions like who the owners are and why they are not renovating those houses – places with endless views and surrounded by a beautiful landscape nearby lovely small towns. The properties are often owned by several persons from a family and therefor have been derelict. The costs to renovate are very expensive, especially the current earthquake regulations. Despite that, our interest was strengthened

Back home we immediately ordered books to get more information about buying and building in Italy. We read about the experiences of people, the difficulties, the cultural differences and the regulations. We also spoke to others who already had taken steps in starting a similar project. They noticed the endless procedures and the unclear regulations. All the information strengthened our interest and in October 2015 we booked flight tickets and made arrangements with estate agents to visit various potential objects. At home we already selected several objects which were sent to us by mail. Next to this we did some research about prices and objects through websites like www.immobiliare.it.

On October 15 2015 we went for a four-day ‘house hunt’ in Le Marche. Because we have an early flight at Weeze airport (D), we spend the evening before in a hotel nearby. We are a bit nervous – how would it be, what can we expect? Because of the autumn holidays it is busy at the airport – there are large queues for the check-in desks and the baggage check. Luckily we are on time, but the plane is unfortunately delayed. After arriving at Ancona airport we walk straight on to the car rental. While waiting we immediately get in touch with a Dutch couple who have already bought a house and are here to discuss the tenders with different builders. We are not the only one…

After an hour drive we arrived in Montefiore dell’Aso at Dorina’s, an authentic ‘pasticceria’ not to be missed in the middle of the center. Anne and the real estate agent are already waiting. After a short introduction we are on our way for our first visit. The first house is in Carassai. A beautiful location far from civilization and unfortunately the views are obstructed by various electricity poles and cables, wherever you look. We quickly agree: this is not an option.

Back to Montefiore dell’Aso to view the second house. After a narrow country road we stopped at a plot of land with the most beautiful views, even with a view to the sea. What a magnificent location! The ruin is small only one hundred square meters. Too small for us but according to the estate agent it can be extended. A number of old olive trees are standing in the countryside. The plot is totally three hectares, the owner wants to sell the whole property and not just a part of it. That’s quite a piece of land, with a forest on it, but still a lot of work to maintain. On the top of the hill, behind the property we see the top of a transmission mast. We are a little bit disappointed, we prefer not to look out onto such a mast, moreover what does this do to your health. There are several stories about it. We have to investigate this further; Anne knows the owner of the holiday home next to this plot. It is a family from Belgium who build this house five years ago. Maybe he can inform us about any negative consequences of the transmission mast. We will call him in the evening.

After having a lunch we visited several other locations in the afternoon, including an old monastery at Offida. Unfortunately this ruin is no longer accessible due to a subsided road. It looked like such a nice place on the pictures we saw online. Especially in combination with the price it could be interesting. And who doesn’t dream of ever owning an old monastery?!

The right location is important, that’s clear – not too remote and preferably accessible via two directions. In this part of Italy, you can be surprised the amount of snow can fall in one day. Only the main roads will be cleared. You can easily been isolated for a few days!

We also visited a location in Ripatransone. The property was in reasonably good condition. However, the location and size of the property were out of proportion to the asking price. By looking at various options online at home, you develop an increasingly better feeling as to whether an asking price is realistic and in line with the market. But we also have heard of a sudden increase in the asking price in case of further interest…That day we visited eight different locations in total. Because of the intensive listening – often in Italian, traveling between the various locations and the impressions, we arrive dead tired at our hotel in Grottammare in the evening. Extensive dining is no longer possible, so we took just a takeaway pizza.

We have plenty to discuss. The location with the transmission mast still seems attractive to us, but after a telephone conversation with the neighbour we decide not to proceed with. For temporary rentals he doesn’t see the problem, but if we want to stay there ourselves for a longer period, the radiation could affect our health. He and his family have moved to another house for that reason.

We were very disappointed and on top of that the estate agent cancelled the appointments due to family circumstances for the following day. But we received the coordinates – but this was quite a puzzle, the degrees of latitude and longitude can be interpreted in different ways. But in the end we managed to find the destination and we decide to go there on our own the next morning.

The next morning, after an early breakfast we immediately get in the car, on our way to Cossignano. From the coast we reach the exit to Cossignano in twenty minutes. We go up the hill, drive through the center and just after the center we see the location to our right. What an amazing view with Carassai and Montefiore dell’Aso in the distance and a view through the vineyards to the mountains with already some snow on the peaks of the Monte Sibillini. Luckily we have a ‘modern’ 4×4 Cinquecento and we can get close to the ruin.

The ruin is a collapsed old farmhouse. The view is free of power wires and other houses. We enjoy the silence but are also shocked by the poor conditions of the property. A number of walls are still standing, but the roof almost collapsed totally and there are several cracks in the walls. Of course you can’t look inside, it is too dangerous. There is a lot of authentic material available for re-use. The old original tiles are on the roof and many bricks are still intact. This can be beneficial for the budget. We like the authentic look and the contours of the ruin and that in combination with the wide view we realize that we have to look through it. We take some pictures and we see that someone is coming across. It is an older woman who is waling to us through the dirty road full of mud. She is very curious, comes towards us and is asking us a few questions – of course in the Italian language. We tried to answer but our language skills aren’t good enough yet. It is hard to understand, but the social control already feels good. After having a short conversation we say goodbye with a lot of ‘ciao ciao’. The beautiful autumn weather and the friendliness of the older women, makes this meeting extra special.

Because we didn’t have more appointments planned, we treat ourselves with a lunch on the beach of Portonovo, just nearby of Ancona. It consists of a beautiful bay with a view over the Adriatic Sea. Outside it is full of Italians for lunch. Despite we didn’t book a table, there is a place for two at Ristorante Marcello. We order a glass of Pecorino and risotto. With our new experiences we discuss ‘our’ potential project in Cossignano. Would this be the place for our future holiday home?

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Casa Camini – Why?

For more than 8 years we have visited various locations in the South of Italy. We came back yearly to celebrate our holidays in the Marches at the Adriatic Sea. Especially in the southern part between Ancona and Pescara in the triangle Grottammare, Offida and Montefiore dell’Aso.For us the Marche is still a quiet region where we enjoy the real Italian life. Wine and olive fields between the green hills with special views; a huge and special hospitality with lovely people.

At the end of 2015 we started to orientate ourselves to make our dream come true. And early 2016 we bought a piece of land of 5,000m2 with a ruin on it. Now almost 3 years later we started with rebuilding the house in October last. 1.5 Years later – spring 2021, we expect the first guests to spend their holidays in our authentic farm.The property of more than 300m2 will have a modern country feel with ‘quarzo’ floors, a heated pool and a fantastic 180 degree view with Carassai and Montefiore dell’Aso in the distance.

And why Casa Camini? Camini is the plural of fireplace. The farm gets on the side of the view both an indoor and outdoor fireplace. Moreover, the farm is situated at the Contrada tre Camini in Cossignano.

Foto van Casa Camini in de oude staat.

In the upcoming months I will regularly posting updates which will describe the preparation of the project (design, permits etc), take down the ruin, building the new house and of course having our first guests. A presto, Otto

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