Governments Look to Tackle Deficit with Sale of Assets

News has emerged that the Italian government is considering holding a great national sale of its islands, palaces and beaches in an attempt to reduce its spiralling national debt....

News has emerged that the Italian government is considering holding a great national sale of its islands, palaces and beaches in an attempt to reduce its spiralling national debt.

With an estimated combined value of more than 3 billion GBP, the sale of approximately 9,000 assets will barely contribute towards alleviating the country's growing deficit - which stands at 1.18 trillion GBP.

The idea has been mooted by Italy's Northern League party, who form part of the ruling coalition government.

A spokesman for the Agenzia del Demanio, the agency responsible for looking after 'national treasures', told the Daily Mail: "The complete list is still being drawn up but a provisional one has been made available to regional and local councils. The full list will be posted online at the end of July.

"Ultimately it will be up to the regional authority what they decide to do but selling off the asset would obviously go some way to reducing national and local debts."

Meanwhile, the latest figures relating to the Italian property market suggest that there is still some way to go before it enters full recovery.

Prices remain at a level well below that seen pre-crisis and values are not expected to rise again until the end of next year.

Indeed, according to the research carried out by research institute Nomisma, the number of residential properties sold in the first half of 2010 was 30 per cent lower than before the financial crisis began in 2008.

And in the first six months of the year prices fell 1.8 per cent compared to the previous period.

"Abroad, the market recovery has been felt for some months now, with investments resuming and prices picking up. The Italian market still appears to be far from a firm recovery in terms of both prices and sales," the Nomisma report says.

Italian business and consumer confidence fell in June as households grew more pessimistic amid the highest jobless rate in almost six years. Nomisma said the decline in confidence had ended a temporary pickup in late 2009, curbing the real estate market's rebound.

The decision to sell comes days after cash strapped Greece considered selling off state-owned assets to reduce debt.

Last month, the French government announced plans to sell off 1,700 state properties in a bid to cut the country's heavy debts.

The sale is to include castles and mansions which are regarded as "useless and unadapted".

What This Means for Property Investors

Wealthy property investors and developers are sure to be following the progress of the plans, with the sale potentially offering them some fantastic opportunities to get hold of prime real estate and land at a reduced cost.

Indeed, if recent global market predictions are to be believed, there is the potential for investors to realise some capital appreciation on any property which they purchase.

The latest results from the Worldwide Property Group real estate confidence tracker found that the majority of individuals questioned believe property to be the best form of investment currently available, with 75 per cent choosing it as their primary vehicle for building wealth.

Meanwhile, it has also been suggested that the decision to sell core assets could go some way to inspiring further confidence among investors.

Following the EU bailout measures, many individuals have been wary about looking at property in European destinations, with fears that any default on payments would spark another crisis.

However, commenting on the decision of the Greek government to consider selling its assets, Gary Jenkins, a credit analyst at Evolution Securities, told the Guardian: "It's a shame if it has come to this but it does at least demonstrate that Greece is prepared to take all actions necessary to try and meet its obligations."

One island which is expected to be sold by the county's government is Mykonos.

It is likely to go to a real estate investor who can not only afford the price of the sale itself but who is also willing and able to invest cash into developing a new luxury tourist complex on the island.ADNFCR-3415-ID-19903513-ADNFCR

- Monday 26 July 2010

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