Lovers of romance, style, great architecture and good food name Italy among their favourite countries. In spite of the downturn it also remains one of the most popular for the discerning buyer-investor, offering great value for money and good rental returns

According to Linda Travella, who has been selling property in Italy for the past 25 years, most British people will buy a home there some years before they retire. “Many start to buy around the age of 50,” she says. “The other age group that buy are between 30 and 50, to use for their family or as an investment.”

The most popular areas are: Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Tuscany and Liguria where property prices range from €100.000 (£85,000) to several millions.

Linda’s top 10 tips for buying in Italy

  • Go to view with a budget in mind and if you require finance, remember that Italian banks are more conservative and 60 per cent LTV is most common. Don’t forget to make an allowance for purchase costs.
  • Be flexible. Many clients say they want only traditional and buy new, or vice versa. Decide on those features which you must have and those where you can be more flexible.
  • Remember to use a reliable property consultant or agent. Use one who speaks Italian and English and belongs to a trade association.
  • Italy has no capital gains tax after five years so keeping your property for five years could increase your resale value by 20 per cent.
  • Remember in Italy the buyer pays commission. Make sure the agent is acting on your behalf.
  • Look at the nearest airports available and the driving distance. One and a half hours from the airport is a good distance to ensure the best use of your home and make it a good investment for rental.
  • Remember the contract will be binding at the outset on both parties. A great advantage as no gazumping as long as the contract is drawn up correctly.
  • Go specifically on a viewing trip. Don’t just fit in viewings whilst on holiday. Check you are not trying to view on public holidays, and Sundays are regarded as a family day in Italy.
  • Remember the notary acts for both parties but for independent advice we suggest a solicitor that specialises in Italian Real Estate. Don’t try to use your local solicitor, the laws are different!
  • Find the area of the country that is right for you, whether that be by the sea; in the country; or in a town.

“People are always surprised by how much you can get for your money in Italy,” says Linda who has taken part in several property programmes for ITV and Channel 4 and heads up Casa Travella, property specialists in Italy with an office in the UK. “In the past it has been advertised as being expensive, however that is certainly not the case now.”