Whilst mainland Italy continues to suffer from economic woes, where the 20 month downturn is the country’s longest crisis since 1993, Sicily is currently experiencing something of an influx of foreign investment.
Investment funds from overseas have been flowing into the island of Sicily due to the current low prices of accommodation across all sectors of the market. Ray Winston, the well know British actor, is reported to have bought a home on the island for €50,000 with the intention of modernising it with a further budget of over €1 million.
Houses in small villages on the island that are in good condition can go for as little as €10,000, meaning that rental yields could cover outlays over considerably shorter periods than is usual.
Research institute Scenari Immobiliari has released figures showing that 60% of the foreign nationals who have purchased a property on the island come from Germany, with a significant further percentage being British and Russian.
Salvatore Sansemi, the mayor of Cianciana near the southern city of Agrigento, commented on the number of foreign nationals in local populations: "When you go to the pizzeria now, you often meet more foreigners than Sicilians. We have just signed off on 140 sales to British, French, Norwegians and Poles, as well as a few Canadians and Chinese.”
Indeed, the traffic appears to be two way, with the mayor saying that many of his villagers have left to go and live in Canada, France and Germany, leaving only 3,500 locally born residents.
On the mainland the picture is much less clear cut. New measures aimed at curbing the tax levied on houses have been welcomed by Italians who have struggled to get on the property ladder, but overseas investors are still being very picky about which areas of the country, if any, they are willing to buy into.
If you are thinking about taking advantage of the low prices Sicily has to offer, think carefully about how you will go about transferring money abroad. Using a specialist currency exchange firm is often better than using the services of a bank.