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House Hunting in … Italy

This three-bedroom house is perched on a hill in Pantogia, a bucolic residential area on the northeastern coast of the Italian island of Sardinia overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Built in the early 1900s as a farmhouse, called a stazzu, the home was restored and expanded in the 1970s into a 1,399-square-foot, cottage-style villa by the prominent French architect Savin Couëlle, said Julia Bracco, head of sales for the Costa Smeralda area at Immobilsarda, which has the listing. Set on a third of an acre delimited by a traditional rock wall, the property includes a swimming pool, a flower garden, and olive and juniper trees.

The original stazzu is now the first-floor master bedroom, which has field-rock walls, terra cotta floors and a traditional ceiling of bamboo cane and juniper beams, Ms. Bracco said. The remainder of the two-story villa, made of rock, wood, wire and plaster, was designed by Mr. Couëlle in his distinctive style, which reflects the Costa Smeralda area as well as the history of the property, she said. The home’s furniture is included in the price.

“The chimney, that’s a signature of Couëlle,” Ms. Bracco said of the home’s peaked structure. “There are three or four main architects here on Sardinia, and you can recognize the architects by the chimney.”

A stone pathway from the two-car parking area winds through a garden and leads to a door opening to the kitchen, which has walls of stone and plaster, along with barrel-vaulted ceilings with juniper beams, all painted white. The floors are marble, as is the backsplash, and the sink and counters are made from a solid slab of granite. One side of the kitchen has a built-in shelving structure with a floor-to-ceiling glass window behind it.

All the doors, shutters and built-in cabinets were designed by Mr. Couëlle, who filled the home with his hallmark “niches,” Ms. Bracco said, such as a curved wall bench in the kitchen that wraps around a wood dining table.

The living room has a wood-burning fireplace that was the stazzu’s original bread oven, Ms. Bracco said. A door opens to a tree-shaded patio and pathway to the swimming pool. Beyond the living room is a hallway leading to the master suite, whose bathroom has marble walls and floors.

The granite staircase ascends to a second-floor hallway, with a reading nook on one end and a door to a terrace with sea views on the other. An external bougainvillea-draped staircase descends from the terrace to a patio near the kitchen entrance.

A bedroom on the second floor has a rare traditional cork ceiling, Ms. Bracco said, along with a hexagonal window and built-in wardrobe. The en suite bathroom is inside a cubby within the bedroom — another signature of Mr. Couëlle, she said.

Pantogia is about a mile from the upscale resort community of Porto Cervo, the closest area for shopping and entertainment. With about 400 residents, Porto Cervo is the epicenter of the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, a 35-mile-long region offering sandy beaches, golf clubs, expensive hotels, marinas and other luxury services. This home is close to several beaches, recreational activities, and ancient ruins such as tombs and Bronze Age stone structures called nuraghi that can date back some 3,000 years.

Olbia, a city of about 60,000 residents 20 miles to the south, has the closest international airport and a seaport with ferry service to mainland Italy. The Sardinian capital of Cagliari is 190 miles south.

The housing market on Sardinia — the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, behind Sicily — has reflected the global market over the past four years, with home prices rising, though certain markets are stronger than others, said John Bracco, a co-owner of the local brokerage Waterfrontaly, and Julia Bracco’s brother.

“The most appealing areas are the ones that offer exclusivity, high-level services and uniqueness in terms of scarce availability,” Mr. Bracco said. “Sardinia, with its strict environmental laws, has shown a great strength, as no new buildings are allowed on the coast since 1975.”

The 35-mile Costa Smeralda is the most prestigious area on the island, and by some measures, the most expensive in Europe. The dearth of available properties has kept prices high, though in recent years that has begun to thaw, brokers said.

“We are facing a change of generation, which means owners who have had their properties 30, 40, 50 years have passed away,” said Giancarlo Bracco, the founder and chief executive of Immobilsarda, and Julia Bracco’s father. “They have children who maybe aren’t interested in keeping the property.”

Foreign home buyers most often seek residences on the coast and within an hour’s drive of Olbia’s airport, John Bracco said. In the past decade, though, buyers have increasingly looked inland in the Gallura region of northern Sardinia, brokers said.

“The characteristic home of this area is the stazzu Gallurese a rectangular house with thick walls, made of blocks of granite and traditionally on a single floor, cool in summer and warm in winter,” said Melania Borrielli, the owner of ResRei Real Estate Sardinia.

Further inland, regulations limiting plot size keep the density of new homes low — another check on development, brokers said. Home buyers are also beginning to explore less-expensive areas in southern Sardinia, Ms. Borrielli said. “Chia and Santa Margherita, and the area of the Sarrabus, which includes Villasimius and Costa Rey, are destinations where the number of sales is constantly increasing,” she said.

There is a wide range of home prices on Sardinia, where seaside homes on the Costa Smeralda can stretch into the tens of millions of euros, said Daniela Ciboddo, a partner with Engel & Völkers in the Costa Smeralda area. A stazzu, typically less expensive than a newer home, could sell for as little as 600,000 euros (about $670,000) or as much as 3 million euros ($3.35 million), depending on location, plot size and sea views, she said.

Prices for seaside homes outside Costa Smeralda range from 2 million euros ($2.23 million) to 10 million euros ($11.2 million), Ms. Ciboddo said.

Most of the foreign home buyers on Sardinia are from Northern Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands, England, France, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries, John Bracco said.

There has also been significant interest from American and Canadian buyers in recent years, Ms. Bracco said, pointing to consumers’ interest in a slower European lifestyle and the island’s location in the heart of the Mediterranean, with easy access by plane to the main European capitals.

While high-net-worth Russians were buying many of the most expensive seaside homes on the Costa Smeralda just a few years ago, they’ve recently given way to Middle Eastern and Asian buyers, brokers said.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Italy, though nonresidents can buy property only if their home countries have reciprocity agreements with the Italian government. The United States and Italy have such an agreement.

Transactions are conducted by a notary, who represents both the buyer and seller, so the typical home purchase does not necessitate a lawyer, brokers said.

Transaction costs, which include taxes and fees, can range from 5 to 10 percent of the property’s purchase price. Agent fees, ranging from 4 to 8 percent, are typically split by the buyer and seller. For the home featured here, transaction costs would be about 25,000 euros ($28,000), plus the agent’s fee, Ms. Bracco said.

Ms. Ciboddo said that homes in the Costa Smeralda area pay an annual fee to the Costa Smeralda Consortium that is calculated based on home size.

Banks are currently offering mortgages to foreign clients at 50 percent loan-to-value with a fixed rate of 1.7 percent, Ms. Ciboddo said.

Italian; euro (1 euro = $1.11)

Annual taxes for this property are about 3,000 euros ($3,300), plus an annual fee to the Costa Smeralda Consortium of about 2,500 euros ($2,800).

Julia Bracco, Immobilsarda, 011-39-0789-909-000

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