In the heart of Tuscany, Florence stands out as one of Italy’s most fascinating cities, a center of unparalleled art, culture and history. But what about its housing market? Today we are pleased to present an interview with Leonardo Viviani, one of the founders of the Idee & Immobili agency, who gives us a detailed insight into the Florentine real estate scene.

We find out about trends in the Florence real estate market with Leonardo Viviani, founder and real estate agent at Idee & Immobili

What is the current state of the housing market in Florence?

“Florence is a dynamic city, and its real estate market is no exception,” Leonardo begins. “Thanks to its rich cultural heritage and history, Florence attracts not only tourists but also many property buyers. The market here is always brisk, with prices that can vary depending on the area, size, condition of the property and its specific characteristics.

“In recent years, we have observed several changes in the Florentine real estate market.” Leonardo goes on to enumerate some of the major developments, “Property prices have risen as a result of increasing demand, both from residents and investors. The boom in sharing economy services, such as Airbnb, has boosted short-term rentals, increasing competition for available properties on the market, especially in central areas. This has had the effect of driving up short-term rental prices and reducing the supply of traditional long-term housing.

Would you like to buy a property in Florence? Find out the prices of houses in Florence in 2023 here.

“Florence continues to be very popular with foreign buyers, both as a tourist destination and as a place for real estate investment. This international demand has affected the market, especially for prestigious properties, such as apartments in the historic center or villas in the surrounding hills.”

Leonardo then reminds us that “the commercial real estate sector has seen an increase in investment, with new development projects and the transformation of historic buildings into commercial space. This has helped strengthen the local economy and the city’s attractiveness to businesses.”

Finally, Leonardo mentions the impact of local regulations, “In recent years, some regulatory restrictions have been introduced to control the impact of short rentals on the availability of long-term housing. For example, rules have been implemented to limit the duration of short rentals and require specific permits.”

What are the most popular neighborhoods for buying real estate? Why?

“In Florence, there are many popular neighborhoods for property purchase, each with its own unique characteristics.” Leonardo shows us some of the most valued neighborhoods:

“The Centro Storico is always a popular option. Who wouldn’t want to live within walking distance of monuments such as the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio or the Uffizi Gallery? The pulsating life of the center and the wide range of stores, restaurants and cafes make this area very attractive to residents.”

The Oltrarno is another popular area: “Located on the left bank of the Arno River, the Oltrarno is full of quiet streets, antique markets, artisan stores and picturesque squares such as Piazza Santo Spirito. Its bohemian character and authenticity make the Oltrarno a popular place to buy real estate.”

“Campo di Marte and Le Cure are residential neighborhoods located east of the historic center and offer a quieter atmosphere than the bustling city center. These areas, which are home to the famous Artemio Franchi Stadium, are well connected to downtown and offer a variety of services, such as stores, schools, and sports facilities, making them a popular choice for families.

Finally, Leonardo mentions the Santa Croce neighborhood.: “Located east of the historic center, this neighborhood is popular, particularly with young people and students, due to its proximity to the University of Florence and its dynamic environment. Santa Croce offers a good selection of bars, restaurants and stores, as well as a number of cultural and artistic events throughout the year.”

Leonardo goes on to say that “these are just some of the most popular neighborhoods for buying real estate in Florence, but the choice also depends on personal preferences, budget and individual needs. It is always advisable to visit neighborhoods and get more detailed information from local real estate agents before making a purchase decision.”

Florence, in addition to its renowned artistic, architectural and cultural beauty, is located in a hilly area that boasts numerous panoramic views, offering spectacular vistas of the city and surrounding countryside.

“The Piazzale Michelangelo, with its breathtaking view, gives a complete overview of the city of Florence. This vantage point, popular with tourists, is the perfect place to contemplate the city’s red rooftops, the Arno River and major monuments, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.”

Fiesole, located a few kilometers northeast of the center of Florence, is a picturesque hilltop village that offers extraordinary views of the city. In addition to the view, you can explore the ruins of the ancient Etruscan city and enjoy splendid views of the Tuscan hills. Forte Belvedere, with its terrace, offers a lovely view of the city. It is an oasis of tranquility where one can appreciate the beauty of Florence and its surroundings.”

Finally, Settignano, known to have been the place of residence of illustrious artists and writers during the Renaissance, including Michelangelo Buonarroti, is a quaint suburb located about 5 kilometers east of the historic center of Florence. Nestled among the Tuscan hills, it offers stunning views of Florence and the Arno Valley.

View of Florence and the Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo one of the most tourist favorite and most upscale areas to buy property in Florence

What are the emerging areas in Florence that might be good investment opportunities?

“There are several areas in Florence that deserve attention.” Leonardo explains. “For example, the Novoli area is developing rapidly, thanks to the presence of the University of Florence and the Novoli University Pole. The new tramway has further increased the attractiveness of this area for real estate investment. In addition, Scandicci, just a few kilometers from Florence, is becoming an increasingly popular place for businesses, offering attractive investment opportunities.”

Let’s not forget Osmannoro, an industrial area on the western outskirts of the city, home to numerous manufacturing and technology companies. Finally, Gavinana-Galluzzo, south of Florence, is being developed through new real estate and infrastructure projects.

What are the main challenges for those who want to buy property in Florence?

Leonardo explains that buying property in Florence presents several challenges. Property prices can be high and availability on the market may be limited, particularly for properties in the historic center or in the most desirable areas.

“In addition, buying a property may be subject to regulations and bureaucracy, and it may be necessary to obtain permits and comply with local zoning regulations. If you want to buy a historic property, you may have to deal with conservation and restoration work. Finally, Florence is a very touristy city, so some areas may be crowded, particularly during the high season.”

How does the arrival of international tourists affect Florence’s real estate market?

“The arrival of international tourists can affect Florence’s housing market in several ways. First, their presence generates additional demand for housing. Tourists often look for apartments or houses for short stays or sometimes even for longer periods.”

This increases the demand for rentals and purchase of real estate. In addition, as Leonardo reminds us, when demand exceeds available supply, property owners may decide to raise rental or sales prices to take advantage of the situation. “The influx of international tourists may attract investors to Florence’s real estate sector, who may be interested in purchasing real estate to take advantage of the growing market or to use the accommodations for receptive purposes, such as vacation homes or bed and breakfasts.”

Overhead view of tourists and the Baptistery of San Giovanni in the historic center of Florence

What have been the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Florence housing market?

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created economic uncertainty and financial instability in many sectors, I must say that the Florence real estate market has held up very well. We have not seen a significant drop in prices. In contrast, thanks to inflation, real estate remains a solid shelter asset, and prices are actually rising slightly.

However, the pandemic has led to a change in the needs and preferences of real estate buyers. For example, we found a greater demand for open spaces, terraces or gardens, at the expense of condominium dwellings or apartments without outdoor spaces.”

What about historic properties, what is their role in Florence’s real estate market?

According to Leonardo, historic properties play a very significant role in the Florentine real estate market. “Florence has a rich history and extraordinary cultural heritage, and historic properties, such as old palaces, villas or traditional houses, are part of this heritage. These properties attract many buyers and investors, both local and foreign, who wish to own a part of this historic legacy.”

“In addition, historic properties in Florence offer unique architectural design, with artistic details, frescoes, vaulted ceilings, terracotta floors and other elements that reflect the style and beauty of the era in which they were built. Often, these properties are located in central or scenic locations, close to major monuments and along the most prestigious streets. Owning a historic property in Florence can therefore be considered a symbol of prestige and sophistication, as well as a sound real estate investment.”

Leonardo reminds us, however, that purchasing and maintaining a historic property can entail additional costs and responsibilities. For example, renovations and structural changes may be restricted to preserve the city’s historic and artistic heritage.

“Maintaining these properties, with their delicate balance between preservation and modernization, can be onerous. Nevertheless, interest in historic properties is very high, and they remain a key element of the Florentine real estate market.”

What type of property seems to have the best return as an investment: single houses, apartments, commercial properties?

“The answer to this question may vary depending on market circumstances and the specific needs of the investor.” Leonardo explains. “However, in Florence, apartments in the historic center tend to offer excellent rental yields, especially if they are located near major tourist attractions. The high demand for tourist and student housing makes these properties very attractive.”

“As for single houses, they can be an attractive option for those seeking a long-term investment. These properties can offer a sustainable return, especially if they are located in prime residential areas.

Commercial real estate, on the other hand, can offer high returns, but is also associated with higher risk, especially in an uncertain economic climate. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the retail sector, making this type of investment more uncertain than in the past.”

In conclusion, each type of property has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on the investor’s goals and risk tolerance. It is always advisable to consult experts, such as real estate agents from Ideas & Real Estate , before making a decision.

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