Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Exhibition on Italy’s monetary unification

Follow the events leading up to monetary unification in Italy and Europe in this astounding and unique exhibition.


Lifestyle & Culture: Italy

Italy is a land endowed with a long and rich history. It has been the cradle of great civilisations, including the Etruscans and the Romans, whose empire shaped the course of Western history like no other before it ...


Financial Overview: Square Metre Prices - Italy Compared to Continent

Residential square metre prices published by the Global Property Guide are based on in-house research, using a simple method we systematically scan web advertisements, looking at offers for sale, and offers for rent, of resale apartments and houses.


House prices in Italy stable at pre-crisis levels

Unlike most countries in Europe, Italy did not experience sharp house price falls with the global financial crisis. After rising more than 70% from 1998 to 2008, the house price index has largely been unchanged since the crisis, falling 0.3% y-o-y to H1 2010 (the most recent data available), according to the Bank of Italy.


Friday, 11 March 2011

Explore Calabria with VFI Overseas Property ...

A Place in the Sun will be held in Earl’s Court, London between March 11-13.  The popular exhibition is organized twice annually- in March and October each year.

VFI Overseas Property had emphatically made its presence felt at the two editions of the event last year. The aesthetically pleasing booth, designed to the same high standards that characterize all of the company’s marketing efforts, was certainly the cynosure of all eyes.

The only company to represent Calabria/Italy at the exhibition, VFI’s booth showcased the beauty and attractiveness of Calabria as the ideal overseas property destination. Prospective buyers thronged the VFI booth, attracted no doubt by the amazing value property buys in a truly amazing part of the world. The idea of a fabulous quality of life that Calabria has to offer at a price that is a fraction of what living in some other parts of Italy or the rest of Europe would cost certainly resonated with the visitors.  With the VFI stamp of quality, reliability and excellence to back the promise, Calabria proved to be irresistible.

It’s certainly a matter of great pride that VFI Overseas Property's presence’s at this exhibition certainly enabled many buyers to find their own magnificent place in the sun – in Calabria.

VFI Overseas Property is inviting more buyers to experience the magic of living in the Southern Italian Riviera. What better time than now to come and explore Calabria and make the choice of a lifetime. Life will never be the same again!

A Place in the Sun Live This Weekend!

Europes biggest and best overseas property show takes place this weekend at Earls Court London, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

There will be 170 exhibitors from 40 countries showcasing thousands of properties from around the world. There are properties for sale from £20,000 to over £1million, so there's something to suit every taste and budget.

To make sure you have every opportunity to do your research thoroughly, there are 70 free-to-attend seminar sessions running throughout the weekend, covering everything from tax, legal and retirement options as well as specific advice on buying safely in lots of different countries.

The Main Stage is the centrepeice of the show and will feature live interviews and buying tips from the TV show's presenters Amanda Lamb, Jasmine Harman and Jonnie Irwin, as well as sessions from French property owner and Apprentice star James Max and property analyst Nigel Lewis from Prime Location.

The Buying Advice Seminar Theatre will have sessions on Cyprus, Turkey, Spain, Italy and alternative destinations, as well as a session on emigration for those who are thinking of making a permanent move overseas.

Brand new this year is The Florida Pavilion, where you can talk to the agents, view the propeties on offer or attend one of the sessions in the dedicated theatre.

The French Village returns to A Place in the Sun Live, in association with the experts on France, French-Property.com and sponsored by Halo Financial. There are hundreds of properties for sale from across France and a dedicated theatre with sessions covering everything you want to know before buying in this beautiful country.

The Portuguese Pavilion in association with the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce is the place to visit if you are thinking of buying a home on the Algarve or Silver Coast, meet the agents and use the opportunity to find out what living in Portugal is like.

Advance tickets to A Place in the Sun Live are £15 for two and include a free six-month subscription to A Place in the Sun magazine.

Written by: A Place in the Sun Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Antonio Velardo (VFI Overseas Property )

Antonio Velardo: Property Millionaire

VFI Overseas Property’s Antonio Velardo has something of a family background in the construction business – 400 years of it to be precise.

However, Antonio Velardo didn’t just restrict his own interest in the business to clambering over building sites as child – he went on to obtain a degree in Civil Engineering from the Loughborough University in the UK, one of the leading universities in this field.

Therefore, in setting up VFI Antonio Velardo not only brought tradition and expertise to the new company, but backed this up with an unrivalled knowledge of the Calabria region and its tax, financial and property laws.

This fits in well with his current responsibilities for overseeing the management of VFI Overseas Property, working closely with agents, developing land and stipulating contracts with builders all round the world.

His vision for the future of the company is encapsulated in its mission statement which proudly proclaims: “VFI will strive to introduce the most exciting markets in overseas property to our clients whether they are purchasing for lifestyle or for investment. It is our goal that everyone who invests with VFI today will reinvest their profits in our future developments”.

With this background Antonio Velardo together with fellow VFI director Harry Fitzsimons have built a company which, in three years has gone from zero to a sales revenue of €100 million, making them some of the most successful CEO’s in world business.

And the success story continues. VFI has now joined forces with Robert Fernando, a high respected retired Harvard university professor running his own property development company in Russia – a new move that sprang out of Prof Fernando carrying out a case study on Antonio Velardo’s concept behind the markting of VFI’s products.

We talked to Antonio about this enviable business growth.
Interview :

So tell me about the history of VFI?

Well, despite the fact that the company is now so successful, it really is just over two years old, and came about following a meeting between myself and my now fellow CEO, Harry Fitzsimons. However, whilst that history is a short one it is also a dynamic one and, although we only started with just two people, were able to grow the company to turnover levels of €100 million in less than eight months. We are confident that track record must make VFI one of the most dynamic companies in existence.

What are the reasons behind VFI’s success?

To start with I really think I owe much of the present success of the company to my background and to my forbears who have given me such a solid grounding in property development. And we’re not just talking about a generation here. In fact, my father was a developer, my great grandfather was a developer and even my great great grandfather was a developer . So as you can see I’ve not only come from an amazingly long line of people with experience in this business – but I’ve also got something to live up to!

But to be really successful in today’s constantly changing economic climate you need more than just skill and tradition. This is where I really feel that my first meeting with Harry Fitzsimmons was so propitious. We were down in the Cape Verde islands at the time where Harry was a client of mine and I knew he had experience in the property market. At the time the selling price from properties was in Cape Verde of €3000 to €3500 euros per square meter. We knew this was to high to allow any growth in that market, but decided we could work together and set up a good business by moving into Italy, and into Calabria specifically.

Of course this move and the initial growth of VFI was helped by my contacts here in Italy – which gets us back to my history. But it certainly worked because, in less than 3 months we sold over 600 units. The key to success is timing, you need to get your timing right and your marketing right.

What do you feel are your achievements?

Looking back over the last couple of years I honestly feel that one of our most important initial achievements was to bring a higher level of professionalism to the whole business of property sales in southern Italy. When we first came here Harry and I realized that most of the local companies really didn’t have much experience in this area. No one seemed to understand the concept of buying ‘off plan’, and even if they did, the computer generated images of planned properties were poor so that buyers couldn’t imagine what they would be like to live in. As a result Harry and I had to spend a lot of time and money on research, better rendering systems to produce good images, and a lot of hard work putting together good sales and marketing projects. But, as an achievement, this paid off and we were able to sell most of the units on our first sites before any of the construction even started.

You know many people think that VFI is successful because of its €100 million turnover. But what I believe is more of an achievement is to have sold properties with nothing on site, but simply using our own effective sales and marketing skills. I have to say that I am proud of that, on behalf of both Harry and myself.

How has VFI contributed to the development of southern Italy?

What we have been able to do is to turn the potential of this beautiful and underdeveloped part of the country into a tangible financial success, which in turn has brought money and employment to this area.

It’s not too difficult to see why areas such as Calabria had remained in a backwater – the local people knew what they had a real gem here, but through lack the right skills or drive, failed to do anything to develop and sell it. In my view, if you have gem, but don’t make the most of it, it’s no longer a gem.

In financial terms it is not difficult to see what the effect has been on the local economy of building 3,000 units with a value of €350 - €400 million and selling these on the open market, not just to Italians, but to English, Irish and Russians. We have brought their money into a poor region and helped to develop it, thanks, yet again, to professional marketing – something that was completely lacking before we started. In fact so effective has this been that many of our customers have come back and bought second properties.

I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I honestly feel that VFI has done more for Calabria in the last three years than the state has in the last 50 – and Harry and I are very pleased about that.

You are only 31 and you are amongst the richest people in Italy, with a proven track record in creative real estate development. What would be your advice for struggling developers in southern Italy?

What they need, in one word, is confidence. That is what I had, and you can see the result. Or, to put it another way – it’s all about a vision of what can be created if you go about it the right way.

And really, this is where so many of the existing local developers fall down. They get bogged down with too much detail when they should be looking at the bigger picture of what can be achieved with the right effort and skills. Identify the market – find out what it wants – put in place high quality marketing right from the outset – and then build the properties people want to buy.

A typical example of the way they get things wrong is when a local developer starts on the bricks and mortar without understanding what the market really wants. Then, when the properties fail to sell they halt the construction, and the result is an ugly mess which ruins the beautiful countryside and won’t interest anyway. You have to do your homework first and ensure that you have sold a significant number of properties before the first brick goes in place.

At the end of the day it boils down to a failure, by local people, to see the bigger picture, to work out in advance what the market wants. They seem to think they can put up any sort of property and sell it. Not so. This part of southern Italy is exceptionally beautiful and the clients who are going to buy here want top quality houses that reflect the style which our country is world famous for.

What are the new challenges for VFI?

Our vision for the future is to take VFI further up-market and to build on our success with new developments that take us into the multi-millionaire bracket.

We have already started on projects at this level in Sicily and Tunisia, areas which we feel are as ripe for quality housing development as Calabria has been, and we are confident we can do as well in both those places as we already have done in Southern Italy.

You like to achieve your goals with lightning speed, how long will it take before you become a billionaire?

If VFI can keep up its current rate of sales – and I see no reason why it shouldn’t – then Harry and I should certainly be joining the Forbs listing in less than five years.

But the bottom line is that no one ever became a millionaire just by thinking about the money. It’s what the Americans call ‘a vision thing’. No vision, no future, no money, simple as that. So there’s the challenge for Harry and I for the next five years if we are to achieve that enviable status. I’m completely confident that we can do it, just like my ancestors were doing for hundreds of years before me!

Interview with journalist John Sansom: John Sansom runs Presslink, a travel, leisure and property specialist news and picture agency. He has previously worked on local newspapers, local radio, national newspapers, and the UK’s leading travel industry newspaper TTG. He has regularly appeared on national radio and TV programs in the UK talking on travel and property investment.