House Hunting in … Italy

This three-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom villa is on a steep hillside in central Capri, the small island off the west coast of Italy known for its verdant cliffs, Roman ruins and tourist resorts.

The two-story house was built in the early 1900s, in a traditional Mediterranean style, with tall arches, white plaster walls and three large terraces overlooking the Gulf of Naples. The property is three-quarters of an acre, surrounded by a stone wall with Roman columns, and includes a one-bedroom guesthouse as well as gardens with lemon trees, rose bushes and a vineyard.

“In Capri, almost all the gardens are vertical pine forests, while this garden is flat, and it is on three levels, and there is a mix of Mediterranean greenery,” said Sabrina Majello, senior sales manager for the regional office of Italy Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.

The home was renovated 10 years ago, with the addition of marble floors, updated bathrooms and custom furniture, Ms. Majello said, and the entire house was painted last year.

The entrance, which features an installation of old ceramic tiles, leads to a living room with vaulted ceilings and glass doors; beyond are the kitchen, two bathrooms (one full, one half) and two broad, furnished terraces. There are marble and tile floors throughout the house, Ms. Majello said, and most of the custom-designed furniture is included in the price.

There is no formal dining room, but there is room for a table in a raised, semicircular space in the living room, Ms. Majello said. Off the living room, a large covered terrace with a brick floor and Roman columns doubles as a dining area as well. The narrow kitchen has professional-grade appliances.

The three bedrooms are on the garden level, below the main floor. Each has an en suite bathroom and direct access to the gardens. On the roof, a third terrace offers panoramic views of the sea, the local marina and the town of Capri.

The one-bedroom, one-bathroom guesthouse has walls and floors covered in mosaic tiles, a thatched roof and a glass door that slides open to the gardens.

The four-square-mile island of Capri, about three miles from mainland Italy, includes two towns: Capri on the east side and Anacapri on the west, with a combined population of about 13,000. The most popular area of the island is the south side of the town of Capri, where there are views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Faraglioni rocks, said Augusto Castellano, the owner of House in Capri, a local real estate agency.

The property is about a 10-minute walk from the shops and restaurants in the center of the town of Capri. There is only one road open to traffic on the island, and the house is a short walk from the road. The nearest international airport is in Naples, about 50 minutes away by ferry.

Sales in Italy have steadily increased since 2013, said Maurizio Pezzetta, the owner of La Commerciale, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. Lower prices, wider inventory and low interest rates have fueled activity, he said.

Capri, which has been a popular getaway for affluent Europeans for generations, was minimally affected by the post-2008 downturn, local agents said. The island “never followed the national trend,” said Cristina Carrani, an agent with the real estate company Engel & Völkers in Capri, who noted that many homeowners chose to rent rather than sell at depressed prices after the global downturn.

Construction of new homes is generally forbidden on the island, which helps maintain the value of existing homes, agents said. “This makes houses much more valuable than anywhere else, and it makes the market more stable,” Ms. Carrani said.

There are only a few dozen transactions a year on Capri, Mr. Pezzetta said. While there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in sales in recent years, “the fact that the downturn has basically stopped represents a big signal for the market and for the recovery,” he said.

Tracking prices and valuations on the island can be difficult, agents said. “Most villas have distinctive and unique features,” said Dimitri Corti, chief executive of the Italian agency Lionard Luxury Real Estate. Penthouses with sea views priced from 1.5 million to 3.5 million euros ($1.7 million to $4 million) tend to sell the quickest, Ms. Majello said.

There are plenty of properties on Capri available for less than 1 million euros ($1.14 million), but most buyers are looking for larger villas and apartments, she said.

About 60 percent of Engel & Völkers’s clients are foreign, most of them from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, England and the United States, said Thomas Zornow, an agent who works with Ms. Carrani in the company’s Capri office.

Many buyers are investors targeting Capri’s thriving tourism market, Mr. Zornow said. “Rentals in Capri can be very high, and the annual gain makes a difference,” he said. “Both foreign and Italian investors are also interested in hotel structures, since the tourist season here is really long.”

At the high end of the market, nearly all the buyers are from outside Italy, Mr. Corti said, adding that about 87 percent of Lionard’s clients on Capri with a budget higher than 3.5 million euros ($4 million) are international.

About half of Ms. Majello’s clients are foreign, she said, including one recent buyer from Australia. In the past few years, she has also seen an increase in clients from northern Europe looking for a second home or a place to retire.

There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Italy. “The usual buying process is quite simple,” Mr. Corti said, and consists of the presentation of a written offer backed by a deposit, “subject to a full technical due diligence.”

To start the process, noncitizens must set up a tax account. A notary handles the documents and ensures that there are no liens on the property.

There are a few potential land mines in the process, agents said. Mr. Castellano stressed the importance of buyers checking the building permits and restrictions on a house. Properties with historic significance or proximity to environmentally sensitive areas might also have restrictions.

“It is essential to verify everything and proceed with the maximum attention in order not to have any surprises,” Mr. Pezzetta said.

Mortgages are available to foreigners, but are expensive and can be difficult to obtain, agents said.

Italian; euro (1 euro = $1.14)

Foreign buyers should expect to pay an additional 10 percent of the sales price in notary fees, taxes and broker fees, Mr. Zornow said. (Foreigners who are permanent residents will pay lower fees.) The broker fee, which can be 3 to 6 percent, is typically divided between the buyer and seller, he said.

The stamp duty and taxes are based on the “cadastral” value of the property, set by the government, which is “usually much lower than the purchase price,” Mr. Corti said.

The annual property tax on this home is about 5,000 euros ($5,700), Ms. Majello said.

Sabrina Majello, Italy Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-39-06-7925-8888; sothebysrealty.com

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