15 Nov Taxes and investments.
by Simone Casiraghi
‘Real estate is still a good investment. There is a definite risk right now of a sort of persecution complex about property taxes with cries of “Wolf! Wolf!” which can only end up with the realisation that the wolf doesn’t really exist. It’s a fact that bricks and mortar is not something that can be hidden from the Inland Revenue which can impose property taxes at free will. And it’s also true that property investments don’t give the same high returns they once did a few years back, but it’s even truer that returns on property investment are still going up, slowly but surely.’ These estate agent consultants are dismayed that the fear of high property taxes seems to be having more effect than their professional and expert advice on whether or not to buy a property. Stefano Noseda, joint owner of Immobiliare Noseda in Como, understands the general concern about the Inland Revenue making exorbitant tax demands on property owners, but drives home the point that more profound reflection is needed on this issue, especially when comparing possible investments, and how much money can be made in real terms for the investor. ‘I fully support a campaign against high property taxes which understandably put clients off buying, especially for your first home,’ says Mr Noseda, ‘but we have to be careful that such a campaign doesn’t have the knock-on effect of putting all potential buyers off completely. Otherwise, how on earth should we react to the current situation on the Stock Exchange, for example, or to the fall in returns on Bot and Cct?’ Noseda analyses the financial aspects further by bringing up the current financial market. ‘There’s a kind of euphoria that’s gripping investors on the Stock Exchange due to the quick gains to be had, and this has resulted in fewer investments in the property market. The current mindset seems to be “It’s better to make a quick profit rather than waiting for the slow returns you get on property investment”. Yet recent developments have clearly shown that, in the short term, there are no guaranteed gains to be had on the stock market. Investing in property, on the other hand, is a great move in the middle to long-term (10 to 15 years).’ How about the issue of property taxes? Again, Noseda’s response to this is to pour oil on troubled waters: “It’s true that there’s more than one tax related to property, and that means there’s more fiscal pressure on property owners, but we also need to bear in mind that Ilor doesn’t exist anymore, Invim is paid every ten years, and the rubbish collection tax is paid by everyone, including tenants. If you take all this into account, at the end of the day you realise that there aren’t that many taxes on property. Personally, I don’t believe that it’s a good idea for people to rent and invest their money elsewhere rather than buy their own property. Take the fact that the average rent in Como starts from 900 thousand liras a month for an apartment of 60 square metres. This shows that it makes more financial sense to buy rather than rent. In the past in Como, property used to increase in value up to a million liras per square metre every year. This is a comforting thought. It clearly shows that the home is an asset which doesn’t fluctuate in value. While there are no longer the increases in house prices we saw in the past, property is still a solid investment, with slow but steady returns. So let’s not always shout “Wolf!” because if we do, we’re risking transforming this fixation with property taxes into some kind of contagious disease. But it’s a skewered vision of reality.’