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 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…