UELI SCHNORF AND PHILIPP PETER, OWNERS OF WETAG CONSULTING, UNDERLINE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LUXURY MARKET AND WHY THIS HERITAGE MUST BE DEFENDED AND ENHANCED IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO MAKE TICINO ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD.
Over the course of 2017, we have published several articles examining the concept of luxury applied to the real estate sector from different perspectives, with particular reference to the Ticino market. In a nutshell, what are the main elements to be taken into account?
"As we have repeatedly emphasised, the concept of luxury is a complex one that is determined by a number of different elements, and consequently cannot be considered an absolute value, but must be contextualised with reference to the territorial context and the real estate market in which it operates. Thus, for example, a luxury residence in South Africa has a starting price ten times lower than in Beverly Hills in California. Ticino also occupies a precise position, with prices for luxury residences starting from 3-3.5 million dollars. Precise distinctions must also be made with regard to the types of luxury market. We are talking about a primary market that includes homes located in large cities where people live and work. Think for example of London, Paris or New York. The second market is the so-called resort market and includes homes located in areas typically used for holidays. This is the case in the Caribbean islands where people buy luxury homes for longer or shorter stays. Finally, there is a Life Style and Jet Set market where those ever-fashionable destinations are located where people can reside but also spend periods of holiday: Montecarlo or Marbella. Ticino, and this is its absolute strength, summarises all these different markets. There are people who choose to live there permanently throughout the year, others who only spend a few periods there, and others who spend their holidays there".
In light of these considerations, why is the luxury property market in Ticino set to grow further in the coming years?
"The luxury market is a market of small numbers, so in Ticino we are talking about a few dozen sales each year. However, on the one hand it represents an extraordinary opportunity because you can direct your property proposals to a highly qualified public that expresses well-defined needs and that must be understood and followed at every stage of negotiations. On the other hand, it implies greater professionalism, as it is necessary to draw up a precise profile of potential buyers, analysing in depth their real availability and expectations".
From your privileged observatory and based on your many years of experience, what are the real estate objects on which most attention will be focused?
"Over the last 10 to 15 years, there has been a profound transformation in the demands of customers, some 60% of whom come from abroad and the rest mainly from inland Switzerland. While villas and period residences, of which there are still magnificent examples along the shores of the lakes in the Insubria, were once in great demand, today the trend is towards recently built, modern, functional properties with all the necessary comforts, including technological ones. As a result, residences built in the 1950s and 1980s are finding it harder to find a place on the market.
What are the main risks - economic, political, fiscal, etc. - to be avoided so that this thriving market does not slow down or stagnate?
"Generally speaking, it should be pointed out that there is hardly any awareness in Switzerland of how important this market is for the Swiss economy. In fact, there is a lack of detailed analysis of the effects that could result from a contraction of this luxury market. On a cantonal level, it is no better. Very important for the next few years will be the measures taken at federal and cantonal level regarding the "legal framework": the limitation of the possibilities of purchasing real estate by clients from abroad, taxation, and measures to maintain or improve security".
Finally, would you like to list once again the excellent reasons that make Ticino one of the most attractive regions in the world?
"Those who come to Ticino choose to take advantage of the traditional advantages offered by this region, which represents an ideal combination of Swiss political and economic-financial stability and the Italian style of the "dolce vita". The pleasant Mediterranean climate, the lush green nature, the lakes of Lugano and Maggiore together with the surrounding mountains, have made this area, for decades, the main destination for tourists and buyers from Northern Europe. Moreover, when one considers the political, legal and financial stability, the low level of crime, the excellent health system, and the high level of educational and public facilities and services, Ticino is an ideal place to live".
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