Is proptech in Italy an upcoming sector that can be as strong as the fashion industry from Italy, the jury is divided. Italy is a country that offers an exceptional quality of life as well as a diverse landscape, with coastlines, highest mountains in Europe, rivers, lakes and even ancient villages. This immense wealth of landscape also offers an immense variety of types of real estate (and great opportunity for proptech in Italy, some of it which is very well preserved with a rich architectural-cultural heritage built up. Italy has always been a country which is rich in real estate, especially luxury properties.
It is also the fifth most visited country in the world, with more than 58.3 million foreign visitors in 2017 alone. This offers immense opportunities for proptech in Italy to grow and flourish. While there are other factors that determine the scope of proptech in Italy, real estate growth and an increase in its needs and demands is one of the prime factors.
Proptech (Property technology) in Italy is still a newbie sector that is governed by a number of factors. We aim to understand the real estate as well as technology scope of Italy in this article to fully understand what is the market for proptech in Italy.
The Real Estate in Italy
Over centuries, Italy’s mild climate and diversity of landscape has made it the perfect place for construction and development of luxury real estate, one that is built with great cultural and artistic value. One can observe the first examples of luxury villas or housing here from the Roman Empire, and most of the castles and fortresses here are from the Middle Ages. Who would have thought that proptech in Italy would be able to utilise these ancient properties too!
It is interesting to note that there are no restrictions on foreign nationals buying property in Italy and the tax regulations have also been relaxed to attract more foreign investment from high networth individuals. This being stated, the current trend in Italy (and effects of it can be seen worldwide) is of temporary rental homes rather than investment in large investment permanent homes. So while the luxury vacation rentals segment has grown significantly, sales of seaside, lakeside or mountain villas and luxury residences have struggled to take off again. This is one of the main factors of rise of proptech in Italy, to provide for the new needs of visitors as well as local Italians.
The Italian residential market saw major slowdown after the financial crisis in 2011 but has since then picked from 2015 onwards. Consumer prices in Italy rose by around 1% in February 2019. As for the luxury real estate market here, sales prices are a reflection of the scarcity value as it is difficult to build new developments in this pre-historic towns and art villages. Sales prices have not yet returned to pre-crisis levels, but could see an increase due to the effects of an increase in demand generated by Brexit and the significant fiscal-benefits package passed by the government in favour of HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals).
The average sale prices here are also significantly lower as compared to other European cities, making Italy a lucrative option for investment as well as temporary habitation. In Q2 2017, nearly 4 billion was invested in the Italian real estate market, bringing the mid-year volume to 5.8 billion, 58% higher than the same period last year, and setting the record for real estate investments recorded in Italy in a single semester. As per duffandphelps.com, the Italian market is all set to grow for the fifth consecutive year.
Interestingly, Italy is also giving away more than 100 castles for free, to entrepreneurs who promise to transform the locations into tourist destinations. This move by the government run State Property Agency is to give a new lease of life to its disused public buildings. This goes on to show the renewed interest of the government for revival of Italy’s real estate as well as tourism sector. This makes the proptech in Italy or #PropTech market very hopeful.
THE TECHNOLOGY SCENARIO IN ITALY AND ITS IMPACT ON PROPTECH
To fully understand how technology is changing or advancing proptech in Italy, we need to dive deeper to see how Italy is becoming a prefered destination for technology startups. Not just for proptech, Italy is also gaining traction as a powerhouse for fintech and edutech startups.
The fourth largest economy in Europe, Italy was one of the worst hit during the financial crisis and this led to increased mistrust by large companies operating here. This was the period when locals and the youth flocked to starting up for more sustainable and profit making lives. From 2015 to now, Italy has also enjoyed increased venture capital interest and funding for its innovative tech startups. One can also see increased government backing for Italian startups with a group called Invitalia, owned by the Italian economy ministry, created to fund innovative projects across the country. The tech success stories of here include Talent Garden in Milan (TAG is now Europe’s largest coworking provider), Yoox (that recently merged with Net A Porter), Musement and Shopfully (backed by Zappala).
After understanding the real estate as well as the technology markets of here, one can safely say that proptech in Italy is sure to rise. While it is still at its nascent stage, there are some interesting startups for this space. Italy’s leading real estate website is Immobiliare it that is front runner in the proptech of here and is the largest website for discovering, buying and selling of properties in Italy. You can search across residential and commercial properties and view a large number of listings across the country.
The other interesting offerings in the proptech in Italy is of connecting foreigners with real estate agents to Italy to facilitate property buying. GreatEstate.it is the Italian real estate agencies’ network specialized in the purchase of farmhouses, villas, farms, villages and luxury castles.
A subsidiary of the Zillow group, Trulia.com is also another Italian startup that is working in the proptech arena in Italy. It is a mobile and online real estate resource database, and it helps users make informed choices about their property selections by giving information like rentals that hit the market, data on affordability and home price history, and insights on what it’s really like to live in a neighborhood ‘ including crime scores, school ratings, and commute times.
These are few of the special startups in this proptech space, the others are mostly classified cities with concentration on a particular location in Italy. Most of the Italian startups are concentrating on the home decor segment, this stems from their artistic flair and globally renowned designers.
Casavo was founded in 2017 with a mission to simplify home buying and selling. Many homeowners have bought and sold homes with Casavo. The site empowers you with the freedom to move whenever you want, on your terms. For sellers, they help you to sell your property at a competitive price in 30 days, eliminating the hassle of showings and months of uncertainty. For buyers, they make it incredibly easy for you to find and purchase the perfect home.
This startup brings connoisseurs everywhere from Italy with a series of wonderful handmade products crafted by exceptional artisans. One can explore the varied worlds of home décor, jewelry and fine art as they change in character from region to region, and observe each artisan in his workshop as he describes his process and worldview. From Venice to the Amalfi coast, from Florence to Milan experience the history of ancient traditions through the passionate eyes of creators and delight in their talent, genius and flair.
Founded in 2012, this startup aims to help everyone make the most of Italian design inspirations: from top notch brands to the smallest artisan excellence. They have more than 7,000 products made with love by more than 270 producers. LOVEThESIGN offers flash discounted deals up to 70% as well as the best exclusive design around selected by a team of design addicted cool-hunters.
CoeLux was founded in 20019 and recreates the sun and the sky to produce a real-like outside experience while being inside through a combination of three fundamental elements. These are a high-brightness, custom LED projector that reproduces the spectral characteristics of sunlight; sophisticated optic systems to direct the sun rays so that the observer perceives the sky and the sun at an infinite distance; and a nano-structured material that creates the Rayleigh scattering diffusion process that happens naturally within our earth’s atmosphere.
Talent Garden hosts innovative coworking spaces, the Innovation School, Talent Garden’s digital educational branch, geared towards both post-graduates and corporate training, the TAG Café, a contemporary bar and bistro, as well as welcoming hundreds of events every year. The campus hosts more than 450 coworkers daily and is a member of the Google for Entrepreneurs’ network.
THE WAY FORWARD FOR PROPTECH IN ITALY
Italy is a very interesting example of a growing country in terms of proptech in Italy. Currently, the platforms are mostly based on classified listings and advertisements and there is a huge scope for technology to change the way the traditional market works. While the technological development will take time, and adoption gestation, it is touted to become big and participate equally in the global debate for a technologically advanced real estate sector. With a growing startup scene, the next few years will be interesting as one can predict a rise in the proptech in Italy, or its #PropTech.