For sale: About $2 billion worth of Italian real estate

The country is looking to unload properties to help cut debt

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

Italy is looking to sell up to $2.1 billion worth of its real estate in an attempt to rein in its debt.

The country’s finance ministry is identifying state-owned properties that could be sold, including army barracks, hospitals and office buildings that are no longer used, according to Bloomberg. Figures released last month show that the country has fallen into its first recession since 2013, and economists forecast that growth this year will be far below the government’s 1 percent goal.

The country’s public debt hit an all-time high of 2.35 trillion euros in November, which was second only to Greece among countries on the euro. Italy’s budget plan, approved in December, featured a goal of receiving 950 million euros in revenue from real estate sales in 2019 and 150 million euros in successive years. The country owns properties that are worth 283 billion euros overall.

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The first properties could hit the market before the end of the year and discussions on how to package them are ongoing.

This is not Italy’s first attempt to raise money by selling property, but past efforts have not been very successful thanks in part to difficult rezoning procedures. Stefano Girola, a portfolio manager at Milan’s Alicanto Capital, said he did not think this time would be different.

“Italy still has an excess of real estate assets to digest,” he said, “and I don’t see much demand on the market for more.”

However, it could see some interest from Americans, as a 2018 Knight Frank report found that Americans are increasingly looking to Italy to buy a second home. [Bloomberg] – Eddie Small