The centrality of the GE Property Finder, the importance of the constant virtual assistance, the professionalism of Roberto Biggera… This and a lot more in the interview with Maria and Gerald Dunleavy, the new owners of “Podere Acquaviva”, in the hills between Todi and Orvieto.
- Welcome, Maria and Gerald! Would you like to tell us something about you?
I’m from New York, of Italian descent, and Gerald is from London, of English & Irish descent. Retired now, our careers were in commercial office construction for over 30 years. We met in 1998 while working on a large construction project at 2 World Trade Center in Manhattan after Gerry transferred to the US for work.
We married in 1999 and lived in New York until 2015 when we relocated to Los Angeles for Gerry’s work. For many years I’ve supported The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, first as a charity triathlete and then as a manager in Los Angeles for four years before fully retiring.
I still love triathlon and have competed all over the world. Gerry is a fabulous musician (played with a band in London for many years), and a wonderful photographer.
Additionally, we both love old cars and riding motorcycles. We plan to pursue our hobbies fully in Italy!
- Why did you decide to purchase a home in Italy?
We both love to travel and have been all over the world. For the last ten years, we have been searching for the perfect location to retire.
We’ve considered various states in the US, different locations in the UK, and even looked at real estate on the island of Gozo in Malta! We both LOVE Italy (I’m particularly proud of my Italian heritage and citizenship), and two years ago while vacationing with friends in Tuscany and Umbria, decided to look at a property for sale outside Panicale. It was then that the idea of moving to Italy really started.
About a year ago we got serious about making a move to Italy a reality.
- How did you discover Great Estate and Roberto Biggera, your trusted consultant?
After deciding retiring in Italy could be the perfect solution, we planned a vacation to house hunt. We narrowed down the area we liked to Umbria.
We like its central location with access to large cities and beautiful small towns. I began an on-line search in the US and noticed that Great Estate Group represented many of the most beautiful and interesting properties.
Out of the properties we liked on-line, we narrowed our list to three real estate companies and sent emails to set up viewing appointments during our 2019 house-hunting trip. Roberto promptly emailed and called me in response to my inquiry and immediately stood out as knowledgeable, professional, and organized. We met Roberto in person in October of 2019 and spent several days viewing properties.
By the end of the week, we decided to work with Roberto and Great Estate Group exclusively to find our dream home. Roberto worked incredibly hard scheduling appointments, listening to our concerns, asking questions about our requirements and preferences, and guiding us through the house search process.
We know that two were the fundamental elements to realize tour “Italian dream”: the signing of a Property Finder and the continuous assistance received from Roberto during the lockdown and through Meet, Zoom, and WhatsApp.
- Why did you decide to entrust yourself to Roberto for the research of your ideal property?
Whether by remote communication (phone, email, Zoom) or in person, Roberto provides an exceptionally high level of service. Roberto has incredible insight into the local property market relative to available inventory, pricing, and negotiating.
He is highly experienced, communicative, and service-oriented in the specialized field of international real estate transactions. Additionally, and importantly, Roberto is trustworthy and very patient. After spending time viewing properties with three different real estate agencies, Roberto was clearly the best choice.
- Which were your impressions on this agreement in October/November 2019?
The agreement to exclusively use Roberto and Great Estate Group for our house search was fair and easy to execute.
Having the agreement in place with Roberto dedicated to our property search provided great clarity of focus.
We were happy to enter into the contract as we were confident in Roberto and Great Estate Group as the absolute best choice.
- Did Roberto propose this contract to you? And what are your current impressions with that agreement, some days after the official purchase of “Podere Acquaviva”?
Roberto proposed the contract to us after proving his ability and trustworthiness and we did not hesitate to sign.
Looking back to October, we consider ourselves very lucky to have found Roberto and Great Estate Group and are absolutely sure it was a great decision.
- Based on your experience, what were the advantages you have been able to obtain by signing up for a Property Finder agreement?
Choosing Roberto and Great Estate Group as our exclusive representation through the Property Finder agreement was absolutely a great decision and the perfect solution for our international property search and purchase.
Roberto was completely focused on our needs and as our single, professional point of contact provided dedicated, excellent service throughout the entire process.
We highly recommend using the Great Estate Group Property Finder agreement which provides a focused and professional single point of contact to ensure the successful outcome of your property purchase.
Good. Now we would like to know your opinion regarding the assistance and advice received from your consultant Roberto Biggera, and in general from the whole GE throughout the search for your ideal property.
- Coming from the United States, at the beginning of your adventure did you think that buying a property in Italy could be so complex?
We had a feeling that buying a property in Italy would present some challenges, but truly did not know the process, timing or pitfalls.
Roberto and the Great Estate team expertly guided us through the intricacies and detailed requirements every step of the way.
Thanks to Roberto working tirelessly on our behalf, clearly communicating all detailed requirements and deadlines, and going above and beyond, we were able to buy our dream house.
· In this regard, what are your observations regarding the consultancy constantly received by Roberto not only via e-mail, but also through the conference calls between you on the Zoom platform, and through WhatsApp?
After our initial house-hunting trip in October of 2019, all of our contact with Roberto was done through phone, email, What’s App, and/or Zoom platforms.
Roberto was always available to us (despite a nine-hour time difference between Italy and the US West Coast), and all the remote communication worked flawlessly.
Even a pandemic did not stop Roberto from providing the highest level of service and being accessible to us around the clock.
· We know that various professionals (technicians, lawyers, notaries) sometimes participated in the aforementioned conferences, who have been introduced by our Group. We know that you have assigned a particular and very “meaningful” nickname to that Group, are we correct? And why you have branded this Group with this name?
We call the extensive group of professionals assembled by Roberto our Italian DREAM TEAM!!! And Roberto is the DREAM TEAM CAPTAIN!!!
They are our DREAM TEAM because they are a remarkable, knowledgeable, patient team of professionals who worked together tirelessly to help us achieve our dream!!!
- Do you think they have played an important role in simplifying the purchasing process to your benefit?
Roberto connected us with a variety of service providers (engineer, insurance agent, notary, lawyer, tax consultant), scheduled remote meetings, and participated as our advocate to obtain answers to all our questions and concerns.
These experts, each one an important member of our DREAM TEAM, have been integral to the success of our purchase process.
We could not have achieved this successful outcome without them.
· And we come to your new and spectacular property: “Podere Acquaviva”. We know that you visited it for the first time in autumn 2019: what emotions and sensations did you feel on the day of the inspection?
Upon entering the gates to Podere Acquaviva, we were thrilled by the spectacular beauty of the grounds and the gracefulness of the house and annex, all maintained at the highest level. It was love at first sight!
Surrounded by serene mountains and olive groves, Podere Acquaviva has a storybook quality. It was absolutely enchanting, fantastic and magical!
· When did you make the decision to buy “Podere Acquaviva”? And why did you prefer this property to the others?
Podere Acquaviva was our favourite property from the moment we viewed it. In addition to its beautiful appearance, it meets all our requirements for size, location, and layout.
We love the separate annex to be used as Gerry’s music studio and that the pool and annex are close to the main house. Having a garage (as part of the annex), is a major bonus!
The property has been maintained at a high level, with high-level finishes and fittings and little to no work to be done. It has beautiful architectural features authentic to an Umbrian farmhouse.
We love the tranquil setting without the property feeling too remote.
Of course, its price was at the absolute high-end of our budget, but thanks to Roberto’s expert negotiating skills, we were able to purchase it within budget!
· You have been living in your extraordinary property for some days now, enjoying it to the full: what sensations are you experiencing?
We’ve lived here for one full week now and feel like we are in a wonderful dream. Each morning we walk the beautiful grounds and visit the Koi in our lovely pond.
We check on our olive trees that were recently harvested, thank them for a job well done (as we are enjoying the oil recently pressed), and encourage them to do well again next year.
We explore the remarkable house and the annex, and each day learn more about how things function with the help of our incredible caretaker (who has been wonderful), and I marvel at how lucky we are to live in this fabulous house in this wonderful country.
· To conclude, you would like to recommend the Great Estate group, and in particular our Property Finder contract, to other Italian and international buyers who, just like you, are looking for a prestigious property in Italy. If so, for what reasons?
Whether you are an Italian or international buyer, we highly recommend the Great Estate Group, Roberto Biggera and in particular their Property Finder contract which ensures you the most professional, expert, focused, service-oriented single point of representation available.
Our decision to work exclusively with Roberto and his team streamlined the intricate search and purchase process from start to finish and made the purchase of our dream home possible.
We are truly thankful for the incredible support and guidance Roberto and Great Estate Group has provided, and continues to provide on our great adventure!
Roberto, we send you and the entire Great Estate Group a HUGE thank you! We could never have achieved this outcome without you! In addition to your expertise, we are truly grateful for your kindness and truly lucky for your friendship.
Maria and Gerry, we warmly thank you for your availability and for welcoming us to your new property: we wish you to spend wonderful and unforgettable moments of life at “Podere Acquaviva”.
Maria and Gerry, we really thank you for the time you gave us: we wish you all the best for “Podere Acquaviva”!