This long-standing center of fashion and design has a new look due to sleek developments among the city’s historic buildings.

Milan Updating Its Look

“After 40 years of nothing,” said Marco Sorbara, sales director with Engel & Volkers Milan, “Milan is revising its look.”  With new developments in the Porta Nuova district, once one of Milan’s largest railyards, and in the CityLife district with residential, shopping and business offerings built on former fairgrounds, the face of Milan has changed.

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Sorbara said that new development is spreading outside the city center into borders of the suburbs as well.  “We (used to have) vertical development in the city.  Now we are developing horizontally, and this will be the trend for the next five to 10 years.”

Several well-respected architects are credited with providing innovative and connective building creations and with the refurbishment of Milan and its environs.  The world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects created the 44-story Generali Tower, a 2017 office building that twists as it rises into the air as a” vertical forest”, anchors the CityLife District.  The Diller Scofidio + Renfro design studio, one of the creators of New York City’s High Line, is creating another “vertical forest” project in Porta Nuova, just two miles east of Milan’s city center.

Housing Market Update

Across Italy, an estimated 710,000 housing units sold in 2021, an increase of +28%, according to a market report by Engel & Volkers.

In March of 2022, the average home price in the greater Milan metro was approximately $500/square foot, an increase of +5.6% y/y, according to, the country’s largest listing portal.

Prices are highest in Milan’s historic center, including the districts of Quadrilatero, Castell and Brera.  The average price for renovated properties (neoclassical townhomes and artisan workshops on cobbled streets) ranges from approximately $800-$1,500 sq. ft., but can go up to $2,096/sq. ft., according to Engel & Volkers.

Increasingly, however, buyers are interested in new buildings with services and access to greenspace.

Sorbara said that Milan’s housing market is likely to get a boost when it hosts the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Who’s Buying?

Foreign buyers, now that pandemic lockdowns are over, are drawn by Italy’s flat-tax incentive program that was introduced in 2017.  Non-residents who buy or rent in Italy pay a flat tax of 100,000 euros ($108,000) annually on all non-Italian sourced income.  Spouses can be included for an additional 25,000 euros or $27,000 annually.

As of 2019, foreign retirees are, in addition, eligible for a flat 7% tax on all income (including pensions and annuities) from outside Italy.

Most foreign buyers are coming from Switzerland, Germany and France; a few foreign buyers are coming from the Middle East.  Sorbara said that Milan is seen as a “desirable place” to invest in an apartment, to have as “a little trophy asset.”

The Basics

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Italy.  Buyers must get an Italian tax code prior to submitting an offer on a residence.  Independent notaries oversee the contract process and record title transfers.

New construction has a value-added tax of 10%; new properties classified as luxury residences have a value-added tax of 22%.

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Thanks to The New York Times.

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