Sicily: Growing demand for top properties on Italian island

Demand on the Sicilian residential property market continues to rise, especially in the luxury segment. Thanks to its rich cultural heritage, Mediterranean climate and unique scenery, Italy’s largest island is attracting a growing number of international buyers alongside domestic buyers. “Sicily’s real estate market continues to see positive growth. One of the main drivers for this is the consistently strong demand from abroad. Besides private residency, more and more second homes are being used as a source of income for the owner through rentals,” says Christoph Feigenbutz, Country Manager of Engel & Völkers Italy.

Hamburg - Holiday homes becoming increasingly popular with international buyers.

Palermo and Cefalù

The stretch of coast between the island’s capital Palermo and Cefalù is a particularly popular location due to its numerous historical sites and various beaches. Domestic and international buyers share the market here. Italian clients tend to be fulfilling their dream of buying a home, while buyers from abroad – most of them from Switzerland, followed by Germany, Belgium, England and the USA – tend to buy properties here as investments. Prime locations include the city centre of Palermo and the historic centre of Cefalù. The coastal city is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the island and is therefore particularly desirable. Villas have been sold here for up to 2 million euros. 

Catania

Residential properties in the city at the foot of Mount Etna are growing in popularity every year. A rich cultural life, views of the largest active volcano in Europe and convenient transport and flight links make Catania so interesting for buyers. National buyers dominate the market, at 94 percent, but an increase in international demand can be observed. “Catania and the surrounding area appeal primarily to first home buyers. The most sought-after types of property are apartments with terraces near the ‘Corso Italia’ or villas with views of the sea and Mount Etna,” says Luca Venora, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers in Catania. Engel & Völkers forecasts that demand will grow in the rural region around the city in the coming years.

Taormina and Mount Etna

Its spectacular location between the mountains and the sea makes Taormina one of the most popular holiday regions on the island. Some 70 percent of buyers here are Italian citizens. The remaining 30 percent consist of prospective buyers of German, Swiss and Swedish origin who are looking to buy a holiday property. Local residents also invest in second homes here. “Buyers in Taormina are primarily interested in villas near the sea and in high-quality apartments with a garage or parking space in the old town,” says Antonio Carnazza, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers Taormina-Etna.

Ragusa

The Ragusa-Modica region in southern Sicily remains a popular location for real estate investments. Prospective buyers are drawn here by the scenery, as well as by the region’s rich history and architecture. The city of Ragusa was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 due to its impressive 18th century baroque buildings. International clients account for 70 percent of the buyer base, originating mainly from Switzerland and the UK. Many spend the winter months here, taking advantage of the warm climate. The remaining 30 percent are domestic buyers, most of whom come from northern Italy and are looking for a holiday home by the sea. Buyers are particularly interested in large country estates and manor houses, as well as modern villas with a garden and pool close to the sea.

Syracuse

Another popular holiday destination is Syracuse on the island’s southeast coast. The beaches here are among the most beautiful in the whole of Italy. Over 60 percent of buyers here are Italian nationals. Most international buyers come from the UK, Germany and France. The most sought-after properties include apartments in Ortigia with terraces and sea views, as well as villas located directly on the coast. At prime addresses in Ortigia, the historic centre of the city, prices can reach up to 6,000 euros per square metre. Engel & Völkers forecasts further price rises in the coming months due to the high level of demand.

Outlook: Prices to remain stable

Property prices on Sicily are set to stay stable in the coming months. With the stabilisation of Italy’s economy, demand for first and second homes will continue to rise in the second half of 2019. “Real estate on the Mediterranean island will remain a good investment in the future,” says Christoph Feigenbutz. The most sought-after regions remain Taormina, Etna and Cefalù.

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