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Following the economic-financial crisis of 2007 and after a long phase of expansion supported by low mortgage interest rates, the Italian real estate market began facing difficulties as a result of a major decrease in both the purchase of housing and in real estate prices.
The housing vulnerability is linked to the worsening of certain macro-trends including the fragility of territories in relation to natural disasters, migratory flows and population ageing, and is a problem that strikes an increasing number of families, whose composition is translating from a model based on numerous families to one featuring homes for a single person or a single family.
In recent years the evolution of lifestyles and the needs of different sectors of the population has led on the one hand to the young, albeit numerically continuously less relevant, having unprecedented momentum, while on the other hand, the elderly have increased both in number and in terms of life expectancy. A productive class is added to this which must reckon with greater income fragility, a higher degree of insecurity and a growing push to mobilise within the territory.
In the face of these dynamics, the peculiarities of the Italian real estate market - which has an ownership rate of over 80% - have made the ability to articulate a prompt and effective response to the changes in individuals' expressed living needs particularly complex.
THE NEW DIMENSIONS OF LIVING
This framework reveals the profound need to rethink the residential market as a whole, through a genuine change of paradigm within which the "house as an asset" recovers a functional role for the development of society, and solutions should be devised that can address a varied spectrum of recipients.
In light of these considerations, the Italian real estate offer must change its single-product archetype to cater to the different needs of the new housing demand in the perspective of economic and environmental sustainability, in such a way as to also contain the phenomenon of urban sprawl. However, the affirmation of a model that is different than the classic one opposes the rigid attitude of the Italian real estate market that discourages the renovation of buildings.
In this sense, the redevelopment of the national building patrimony (whose value is equal to about four times that of the Italian GDP) can offer appreciable and "smart" solutions, pursuing the objectives of energy efficiency and the reduction of homes' management costs.
In this context the experience of real estate funds, for example the Integrated Funds System (SIF) which includes the fundamental role that the Fondo Investimenti per l'Abitare, or FIA (a fund that invests in local real estate funds to build social housing units), plays therein, has contributed to the development of investments in the social housing market, with the offer of housing at controlled prices or sales at special prices increasing in Italy. This new housing paradigm has made it possible to propose solutions at affordable costs that not only comply with high-quality standards, but focus on the quality of life.
The success of these initiatives, which can intercept the needs expressed by a demand in constant evolution, depends on the real estate market's ability to undertake a virtuous path of innovation and evolution to project it into an important role in the national economy.