International buyers are putting stakes in Italy, with the nation taking the top spot as the most inquired about for high-end homes in the first quarter of 2018.

Despite the country’s less-than-stable political and economic landscape, the most recent Knight Frank report found that the more buyers from Australia and the USA looked for a second home in Italy than any other part of the world.

“We are seeing much of the return of ultra-high-net-worth individuals to Italy at a level previously unseen,” said Amy Redfern, senior negotiator at Knight Frank Italy.

Super-prime sales - defined as those at or above €10 million - have increased significantly in the last three months in Italy, suggesting that the political or economic uncertainties in Italy have not had a big impact on buyers’ decision-making. These uncertainties include the general election, banking crisis and the U.K.’s Brexit negotiations.

In terms of inquiries, Knight Frank saw a 133% increase year-over-year. Popular Italian homes styles were stone-built Tuscan farmhouse with vineyards, houses with direct canal or lake frontage and city-centre apartment in a city like Florence, Rome or Lucca.

Potential USA buyers made up 11.3% of inquiries received by Knight Frank in the last three months, compared to 6% in the same period of 2011.

“The love affair with all things Italian, history, culture and art, continues for many Americans,” says Ms Redfern. “They’re generally heavily involved in properties of historic nature and of architectural merit.”

Another trend in Italy’s prime market is the significant uptick in interest from Australian buyers, who accounted for 3.6% of Knight Frank inquiries, compared to a statistically insignificant number seven years ago.

“From what I have dealt with, most Australian buyers are semi-retired, aged 50 years and older, who look to purchase Italian homes as their base in Europe,” she adds. “Many of the interested buyers have children or family members who work in European financial hubs.”

Home prices in most of Italy’s prime locations either went down or had zero growth in 2017, except Western Liguria, Chianti and Milan.

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