Buying a property with a sea view is a dream shared by many. If you are looking to buy in Puglia, however, where the clear turquoise sea enhances this view even further, there are a number of things you should bear in mind.
Firstly, the area has a history of pirates, and invasions by sea. So, historically, construction took place inland. If you are looking for a historic property on the beach you are very unlikely to find one. A historic property up in the hills, with a panoramic sea view in the distance, yes, you can find plenty. In more recent times, building on the sea has been very limited due to planning restrictions, and rightly so.
In seaside towns like Monopoli or Polignano, building took place behind fortified walls or, in the case of Polignano, protected by cliffs on one side and walls on the other. In both cases you can buy little houses or apartments looking out to sea or, more likely, with a sea view from the roof terrace. Bear in mind though that these properties are highly sought after. Many have already been snapped up as holiday homes, bed and breakfasts, or hotels. When they do come up you have to move fast, and there is no point thinking you can haggle because everyone knows Italy is in a crisis. Buying one is an excellent investment however, as there will always be a limited number and they will always be in demand.
As an aside, perhaps it should be said that the effect of the crisis in Italy has been that estate agents advise owners to price realistically. With the exception of a few estate agents, who focus on selling to foreigners and price accordingly (to be avoided in any case, I would suggest) there is therefore not much wiggle room. Combine this with the fact that Puglia is beginning to really take off as a holiday destination and the market for some properties (historic, with character, with a view) is relatively buoyant. You can find a bargain, as prices have gone down, but come to Puglia expecting to offer significantly less than the asking price, and being accepted, and you are wasting your, and everyone else’s time.
If nothing but a sea view will do then the best idea is to give someone here a watching brief and be prepared to come and view straight away when something turns up. This October I was asked by some American clients, who were coming to Puglia, to find them a property with a sea view. They required a property where a car wasn’t needed. As a starting point I sent them details of three properties, having personally visited many more, all of which they liked the look of.
The first was a two bedroomed, two bathroomed apartment in a historic building in the centre of Monopoli. This was my least favourite as, despite having a little roof terrace with a great view, and being in good condition, it had been so thoroughly modernised by its Italian owners as to lose much of its character inside. The price was 220,000 for two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a livingroom and eat-in kitchen, as well as a further room up on the roof terrace. As an investment I thought it less good than my other suggestions (lower rent as a holiday property, less potential for improvement). My clients liked it a lot, however, but in the three weeks it took them to get to Italy the property had been viewed several times, and was under offer within a day of them seeing it.
In order to buy they would have had to make an offer within 24 hours.
The second was, in my opinion, a really great buy. A whole house, centrally positioned in Monopoli, but in the 18th-19th century part rather than the medieval historic centre. It is currently divided into two apartments, each with a door opening into a good sized room, with two further well proportioned rooms as well as a small kitchen and bathroom. Vaulted ceilings, original built in cupboards and wooden shutters, period floors. In need of rewiring and doing up, and you would want to rethink the kitchens and bathrooms, but structurally very sound. Best of all there is a very large roof terrace, with views over Monopoli to the sea. There is a small room on the roof terrace which could be extended to make an outdoors kitchen.
There was a lot about this house that my clients liked, and they could see the potential but they were concerned about the amount of stairs, given their current age. This house was, and still is, on the market at 290,000. It could be made beautiful and has heaps of potential, easily providing three good sized bedrooms, a large eat in kitchen, three bathrooms and two reception rooms as well as the roof terrace with a dining area and a sunbathing area with a shower for cooling off. The market, shops, restaurants and beaches are all within a 10 minute walk or less.
The third was my absolute favourite, and the most expensive. Unlike the others, it was out of town, in the hills, but with a few shops within walking distance and a regular bus into town. A nineteenth century house, with huge amounts of character, and a terraced garden with spectacular sea views. The main house has a living/dining room with original floors, fireplace and high vaulted ceilings. There is a reasonable sized kitchen, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. On the lower terrace there is a further room, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling arranged as a studio with kitchenette and bathroom. Although the property is in good condition, a pool would be a good addition and necessary if holiday rentals were desired. It has been on the market a while at 450,000 with the owner turning down lower offers, but the agency now thinks they would accept 400,000 or possibly slightly less. With a pool, this property would give a return of around 10% a year (including the cost of a pool) if the owners rented it out when they were unable to use it.
This one was slightly out of budget for my clients and it probably didn’t help that we saw it on a day of torrential rain with the view completely obscured with mist. So they went back to America, having fallen in love with Monopoli, but not having found the property of their dreams. The revised brief was for something in Monopoli, with at least two bedrooms, looking directly out to sea, without stairs and still within walking distance of all amenities. Not easy to find, as the houses in Monopoli’s Centro Storico tend to be built like little towers, over three floors and, divided up into apartments, are often tiny.
The perfect apartment has just come up. In a modern (but low) block of flats, overlooking a beach just on the outskirts of the historic centre, with large open plan reception room and one of the two bedrooms looking out onto a balcony with open sea views (see Apartment 4, above). No stairs (lift), two bathrooms, needing little work – it ticks all the boxes. Apartments in this building almost never come up though. The view and location add at least 80,000 onto the usual price for two bedrooms (this one is 330,000) and chances are, although my client loves the look of it, that it will be sold very quickly.
To stay in Casa Anna, Casa di Francesca or Don Ferrante, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. For free, no obligation, advice on buying property in Puglia, property search, buyers’ hand-holding service or project management contact me on email@example.com. You can see our most recent project, where we found the house, helped with the purchase and project managed the renovation here