- September 1, 2018: Vol. 12, Number 8

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Optical illusion: Has Italy undergone a real estate renaissance or is it all just a mirage?

by Marek Handzel

When you buy a car in Italy, the first thing you have to do is legally register it. This slight inconvenience is made more bearable by the fact that you don’t have to look very far to find someone who can rubber-stamp your purchase for you. With the highest percentage of notaries per inhabitant of all the OECD member countries, there’s one on almost every Italian street corner.

The requirement is a consequence of Italy’s heavy regulatory environment, which acts as a protective blanket for a number of professions. And in the case of real estate, the red tape goes up another level.

Carmelo Benigno, an asset manager from BNP Paribas Group Asset Management, illustrates how frustrating the system can be. He and his colleagues spent almost two years in discussions with local authorities in Rome over a building conversion — to obtain a building permit.

In the retail sector, property operating licences can sometimes be held by tenants rather than property owners

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