24 December, La Repubblica
It’s an occasion to make a good bargain for some, but it means a lot of sorrow for some others. In Genoa, in countertrend with the rest of northern Italy, there has been an increase of houses bought at auction in 2017.
This trend has been going on since 2014. For two reasons. The first, common to the whole country, is a sentence by the Constitutional Court. Before the sentence, in fact, the taxation on properties bought at auctions was much higher than those bought on the market, limiting the convenience of buying houses at auctions. It’s not like that anymore since already three years, and the effects of the sentence are tangible in Genoa and in Liguria.
But more importantly, this boom of houses bought at auction is due to the fact that people have never had so much debt. Houses are the last resource for small business owners, or it might be the case of privates that cannot pay anymore their loans, invoices, or cope with the costs of a small business, or with household bills. The house is the last asset to take when all the others are gone when there are no more other investments or resources to take.
This trend is not good news for the city, even though it represents an opportunity for whom has the financial resources to make a real bargain. The Court bankruptcy reports that “in Genoa, it’s the norm to have two or three confiscated apartments in a building”.
In most of the cases, it means that who used to live there, a tenant or the owner, hasn’t paid the utility bills for months: electricity, water, lift bills etc. In the case of a potential buyer looking for a house in that neighbourhood, who would buy in such a problematic area?” It means that there is very little hope for the whole building.
The boom of auctioned houses is the clearest sign of the disappearance of the so-called middle class. Because Genoa is still a wealthy city, but this wealth is just for a few people and it originates from years of savings. On the other hand, unemployment is still growing (over 7 thousand people) and the good performance of tourism doesn’t translate into new jobs. Finally, and this is perhaps the most worrying fact, small businesses in the city are stuck.
Source: La Repubblica
Translator: Cristina Ambrosi