The title is a bit tongue in cheek, but I get asked this question so often that I thought it might be useful!
With a background, first in Journalism, then in niche travel, and finding myself in Puglia, at a time when the area was relatively unknown, a lot of my work in the last eight years has come about from a feeling of ‘someone ought to…..’ and from people approaching me. For this reason it has been extremely varied, but now the area has become better known, there are more services offered (so I don’t have to) and I have also got older and perhaps have a much clearer idea of what I want to do when I grow up!!
Now my work falls into two main categories, property and tailor made travel (more on that later), although I spent most of my time on the former. I enjoy both for the same reason, it is profoundly rewarding being able to work out exactly what people want or need and to be able to provide it. To be able to do both in a place that I love, and to share that with people, and make it more accessible to them, is also very satisfying.
I have always loved looking at houses and ‘doing them up’ and, while I lived in England, bought, and restored, a couple of buy to let properties as well as working on the houses where we actually lived. Very much a hobby rather than a job.
About five years ago an English couple enlisted my help with buying a house. They were frustrated by the fact that they couldn’t seem to get any sense out of the estate agencies here, so I offered to line up some properties for them to have a look at. We found their dream house, I helped them through the buying process and then organized the quotes for the necessary work on the property, supervised the restoration and even chose most of the furnishings.
It all started from there and, while mostly concentrating on renting out holiday villas, and on organizing travel, I also did the occasional ‘make over’ for Italians wanting to transform their properties into desirable holiday villas, as well as helping non-Italians buy and restore properties. Photos of my first project below this, and before and afters of my most recent project here and here .
In the process I built up a really good team of builders, carpenters, and workmen generally, as well as finding lots of good suppliers, for everything from stone flooring to architectural salvage, furniture and finishing touches. I also learned, a sometimes stressful process, all about the weird and wonderful vagaries of the Italian property purchasing process (about which there is a lot of misinformation in circulation, particularly online, but that is for another article)
How I work is very simple. I am not an estate agent, but have an extensive network of agencies I work with, and can work with any agency. I am able to offer a property search service at no extra cost to yourself, as any agency will pass onto me the commission that you would otherwise pay them (3% of purchase price).
I am happy to comment on any properties that you may have found yourself online, or to go and see them for you. If you have already contacted an agency yourself I would charge a fee for doing this as you would already be their client and so no commission would be payable. Otherwise it is part of the no extra cost service. If you are planning on visiting Puglia I can line up properties for you to view and accompany you on the viewings.
After you find a property I can do the due diligence, help you open a bank account, get an Italian tax code and so on, and guide you through the whole purchase process including being present on the day of completion. This can be either on a fixed fee basis or an hourly rate, as you prefer. I prefer to be involved in your property adventure from the beginning, as it is easier, but I am happy to step in at any point in the process, or to organize and project manage work on properties you have already purchased. I no longer manage properties, but know good agencies who do.
I can get quotes for any restoration costs at any stage of the process as well as supervising any necessary work post purchase. If you are out of the country while the work is taking place then I will give you constant updates, both photos and written reports. I normally charge a percentage of any work done and a small hourly fee.
The important thing for me to stress is that in all of this there is no agenda. My objective is to help you buy your dream property, at the best price. I am currently helping an English couple buy some trulli (more on this later) where the purchase price is very low and where there will be no project management. I am both enjoying the process immensely, and finding it very satisfying, despite the fact that my earnings are low. Similarly I will always get three quotes for any work, and haggle on your behalf over the price, despite being paid a percentage of the work costs.
I am happy to chat on the phone or exchange emails if you are considering buying in Puglia, with no obligation whatsoever, whether you end up buying something or not. I tend to go out of my way to be helpful and, because I tend to be a bit ‘all or nothing’ about everything, I will go to endless trouble on your behalf.
There are two caveats here though. One is that I have dealt with people before who are very suspicious because they think it is all too good to be true, and there must be a catch. There isn’t. If this is you please don’t contact me as I, understandably, find it both insulting and irritating – I don’t imagine anyone likes to be treated like a used car salesman! Basic skepticism combined with an open mind is fine though..
The second is that I think any relationship, whether work or personal, should be based on mutual respect. I will answer the phone, day or night, because I just do. If you suddenly have a major wobble about whether you are doing the right thing with your purchase then I am happy to talk at any time. If you have no electricity, are locked out or have a medical emergency then I will drop everything and come.
This doesn’t mean, if there is no crisis, that it is always alright to ring me at the crack of dawn on a Sunday, or even on a Sunday at all, or to expect me to be free to help with non emergencies at a moments notice. I normally answer emails immediately, if I don’t there is a reason and I will do it as soon as possible. There, rant over, but there is a good saying here ‘patti chiari, amicizia lunga’ (clear agreements, long friendship)!
If you think I may be able to help you, do get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone me on 0039 3337911030. I am happy to talk on Skype by prior arrangement..