“Having a consultant who works with the client in this way, as Hariet did with us – is exactly what house purchasers need”. Those are just a few of the touching words said by Mr and Mrs Shepherd, the new owners of “Rosso Mattone”, the property they purchased with the support of Great Estate and Hariet Nijhuis. The interview.
Welcome Mr Shepherd and Mrs Kaja, thank you for your time. Why did you decide to purchase a property in Umbria and, to be more specific, in the countryside near Castiglione Del Lago? Did you already know this area? What do you like the most about it?
We decided to buy a home in this area because we already have a holiday home here – bought 13 years ago – and we know the Trasimeno area very well indeed. We looked further afield – still reasonably close to the lake, but decided that we had to be as close to familiar places as possible because this area feels like home to us.
We love the countryside around here – the hills in the distance (Cetona and Amiata) make for a very distinctive skyline. We love the towns and villages with their bars, restaurants and interesting shops. It’s also a fantastic area for cycling, and my husband is a keen cyclist. Most of all, we like to sit by the lake and just enjoy its beauty.
Why did you decide to do this purchase? How will you use your new home (main residence, holiday home, etc.)?
We have moved to Italy permanently, so this house will be our main – our only – home. Hopefully, we will also be able to run it as a business-like in our last home – I run sewing classes and holidays, and design/make things to sell, and my husband plans to organize cycling holidays.
We decided to buy this house because of Brexit… We have always said that one day we would like to live in this part of Italy but were living happily and successfully in France, and if it wasn’t for the looming deadline of 31st December this year, we’d probably have stayed there for a few more years before moving here to retire.
How did you discover and contact Great Estate?
I discovered Great Estates by chance a few years ago, probably via Greenacres, possibly from either Idealista or Immobiliare.it “A few years ago” because knowing I’d want to move here permanently one day has meant I’ve always kept an eye on what’s available.
I contacted Great Estates this spring to ask a question about the price of a property and was very impressed with the helpful and personal response from Hariet.
Your GE trusted consultant was Mrs Hariet Nijhuis. Why did you decide to entrust yourself to her for your research?
We came across Hariet Nijhuis quite by chance, when I emailed Great Estates about a particular property, and received a reply from her.
Often if you ask about a property, Immobiliare ask what sort of property you’re looking for, and then bombard you with info on very unsuitable properties, so I usually just say “I’m ok to thank you, I’ll look myself”.
However, Hariet wasn’t at all pushy and from the start – via her emails – was both friendly and professional, which is something I value highly.
When we finally met she was exactly the same in person – very friendly, very efficient and organized, and incredibly helpful – and useful! – when we were shown around properties.
She listened to what we wanted, she knew which rooms we’d like and which we wouldn’t, she had great ideas for things we could do to various properties; so many immobiliares come up with completely impractical ideas and constantly distract you while you’re trying to assess a property.
Hariet never once did this. The fact that she speaks English so perfectly is also a huge plus.
I’ve never had a consultant before, when purchasing property – and I’ve purchased 8 in total, in 3 different countries, so it was new to me – to have the same person visit various potential homes with me.
It’s certainly a service I’d recommend.
Let’s talk now about the property you have recently purchase: “Rosso Mattone”. What did you like the most about it? Why did you finally decide to purchase it?
We like the style of the property because inside it is very like our holiday home in terms of the style and quality of finish.
It is renovated in a way that suits our lifestyle – everything is clean and fresh and there’s so much character, but it’s not luxurious – it’s simple and homely.
We like the setting – we are used to living in the countryside surrounded by farmland, and we like the outdoor space, the land, which will be great for our dogs as well as for us.
Of course, also the location – around 15 minutes from Trasimeno Lake and overlooking Chiusi Lake, in the distance.
Do you remember your first visit at the property? Which were your first impressions about it?
Oh yes, we remember it very well.
It was a Friday afternoon and there was a dreadful storm, and it was pouring down. It had been gloriously sunny for weeks so it was a bit of a shock, but it didn’t put us off the house.
Hariet showed us into the room at the back first, overlooking the garden, and the first thing we both noticed was just how similar in style it was to our holiday home; so, it immediately felt homely and almost familiar.
What do you expect from your future in “Rosso Mattone”?
We hope we will be able to enjoy living in the house as much as we’ve enjoyed our time in our holiday home.
We also hope we can establish our business here – moving it from France to Italy will not be easy! We hope that we can be part of the local community in some way – and finally, be able to call Castiglione del Lago our home.
How was the negotiation? Did you find any particular problem?
To be honest, we did find the negotiation stage quite stressful. There were a few issues related to the agricultural land, and the building rights, which slowed things down because the seller had to communicate with the Comune. I think it took about 3 weeks from putting in our offer to having a version of it accepted, and that was the longest time in any house negotiation, for both myself and my husband. We do understand why things were slow, but knowing this did not lessen the stress of the situation!
How would you rate the consultancy you received by Mrs. Hariet and the whole Great Estate team?
Hariet has been superb – we could not ask for more.
She has been there throughout, with answers to our (many, many) questions, proactive in suggesting things and guiding us at each stage.
She has a very calming manner, and if you feel a little concerned about something, just a simple chat with her makes you feel assured.
She is, in fact, the most professional person we have ever dealt with when buying/selling a property and we are very grateful to her.
Everyone we have dealt with at Great Estates has been excellent.
In short, what do you think about your experience with Great Estate?
Great Estates is a very professional Immobiliare and I’d say that purchasing a property through them has been a very positive experience.
What do you think about the advertisement, communication and multimedia tools that Great Estate uses to keep its clients updated?
The Great Estates website is excellent, the photographs superb, the descriptions clear, well written and informative.
In terms of communication, it’s always been incredibly fast, and that in itself is both unusual and very much appreciated.
To conclude, would you recommend Great Estate to other national and international clients who, like you did, want to purchase a prestigious property in Italy? If so, why?
We would most definitely recommend Great Estates to others – it is an incredibly supportive and trustworthy agency and the personal touch from all staff is so refreshing.
The service offered – in particular, having a consultant who works with the client in this way, as Hariet has done with us – is exactly what house purchasers need.