I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a real estate agent in Italy that speaks English (and Italian), is responsive to your silly questions and really understands what you are trying to accomplish with your home purchase. Our agent, Paola Di Francesco, was incredibly responsive. I would email her at 6am, 3,pm or 10pm Pacific Time and I would always have a complete, well-thought out response within an hour. Paola really took the time to learn who we were, what we were seeking in our Italian home and she did her homework. I wish I could include a photo of Paola but we recently learned a big real estate company in Florence has scooped her up and she is no longer at the Lunigiana 2000 office in Aulla.
I went back and counted the number of emails Paola and I exchanged before I even stepped on Italian soil and it was 54 emails. Paola was beyond patient with me and my endless stream of big and small questions. We provided Paola a budget of $125,000 US dollars and I was specifically interested in a beautiful home in Malgrate, an area I knew nothing about. Here are a few photos of the property that inspired us.
The house in Malgrate was a 2-bed, 2-bath property with a large shared terrace that overlooks the Magra Valley all for the bargain price of $120,000 Euros. Paola warned the property had a few issues but nothing off putting. I explain to Paola if she could find 5-6 similar properties I would fly to Italy and view the houses in person. Within 48 hours, Paola presented the following options:
This was enough evidence for me to understand that Italy presents us a great opportunity to find a beautiful home in a place that time has forgotten. I decided it was time to book a flight to Italy and see if Paola was just a great photographer or a better real estate agent.