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PROPERTY

The best renovation properties you can buy in Italy for less than €50K

If you’ve always dreamed of having your own home in Italy, we’ve got good news. That place in the sun could be more affordable than you think - as long as you don’t mind some hard work.

The best renovation properties you can buy in Italy for less than €50K
A house for sale in Montefortino, Le Marche, Italy. Photo: D+G Design

When a small Sicilian town offered up dozens of houses for just €1 recently, it sparked an Italian property stampede.

But these houses need serious work. Buyers must pledge a minimum of €15,000 worth of renovations and, judging by the photos, the work needed would cost a lot more than that.

One of the houses for sale for a euro in Sambuca, Sicily. Photo: Comune di Sambuca 

Many of The Local’s readers, who know a thing or two about buying and restoring property in Italy, were baffled by the excitement in Sicily.

“What’s all the fuss about? Italy is full of cheap properties to renovate, especially in villages,” wrote one. And they have a point.

The Italian property market is filled with historic houses in need of renovation, and prices can be surprisingly low. They’re a perfect match for foreign buyers looking for a property in the sun to call their own – on a budget.

You might need a big imagination to take on a renovation property. But in Italy, you don’t need a big budget.

To get you inspired, here are just some of the Italian properties you can buy now for less than 50,000 euros. Some need complete renovation, and others just need updating.

Casa Nocera, a townhouse in Sicily with panoramic views

€8,000

80 sqm

Alessandria della Rocca, Agrigento, Sicily.

This four-storey house in a small Sicilian village is as rustic as it gets, and it needs to be completely renovated. But we still did a double take at the price.

If you're up for a challenge, it would definitely be worth it to have your own Sicilian bolthole complete with panoramic roof terrace. It’s in a small village just 40 minutes from the beach.

More details.

Independent stone house in Abruzzo

€16,000

San Valentino, Abruzzo Citeriore

It’s rustic, it’s charming, and it’s in need of total renovation. This two-floor property in a pretty village has stone walls, wooden beams and fantastic views. Although we’re not too sure if it has plumbing or electricity…

According to the independent property experts running the Property up to 50k website, the house is “structurally sound with a fairly new roof and for this price, the renovations could be well handled with a reasonable budget.”

More details

A house with mountain views in Tuscany

€20,000

Minucciano, Lucca, Tuscany.

We found lots of bargains in this Facebook group, including this beautiful detached house in northern Tuscany.

“The house needs a new roof, plumbing and electrics, but has eight rooms plus a huge storage on the lower floor that could be converted into a separate apartment,” wrote the owner, who is offering the property at a low price in hopes of a quick sale.

It has a small garden, and “breathtaking” views from its windows of the Apuane mountains.

More details

Stone farmhouse with land in Molise

€19,000

200 sqm

Agnone, Molise

Three bedrooms and more than a thousand square meters of gardens and land could be yours in the region of Molise. The house is “in a very habitable state and needs just your TLC to make it rather spectacular.”

It has plenty of character, with thick stone walls, fireplaces, beamed ceilings and big windows, The large rooms are “bright and sunny with some amazing views; lots of nice woodwork, and definitely dated finishes, sure, but that’s what makes for fun projects.”

More details

Casa Pompelmo, Abruzzo

€ 29 000 

80sqm

Rosciano, Abruzzo

In the heart of a historical village, this two-bedroom house is all on one floor, with a very large five-room cellar underneath which could be converted. There’s a kitchen-dining room with fireplace, and great views towards the Maiella mountains.

More details

Rustic country house in Pescara

€35,000

115sqm

Lettomanoppello, Pescara, Abruzzo

Another great property in Abruzzo. Complete with 1000 square meters of land, this two-storey house on a hillside near Pescara seems like the perfect renovation project. It has plenty of original features, natural light, terraces, a kitchen garden and even a few rustic outbuildings.

“It needs updating and improving as it’s been empty for some time and it’s had, shall we say, some interesting ‘improvements’, but all that is very fixable, especially at this price,” say the independent property experts behind the listing.

“I would lowball an offer of 25k and try to get it for 30k, because it’s easy to point out the aesthetic issues.”

More details

Villa with panoramic view in Puglia

38,000

Cassano, Bari, Puglia

If you prefer the milder climate of the south, Puglia has lots of bargain properties including this countryside villa. Though it's in need of an update, and could be really spectacular with some work, it's already in good condition and is hardly a renovation property at all.

Set in a quiet residential area on two levels, it has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a patio complete with grill and panoramic views. And it's only half an hour from the coast.

 

Historic townhouse in Marche

40,000

Montefortino, Marche

Near the central piazza of a small town, this charming house is in good structural condition. It’s complete with vaulted ceilings, terrace, and incredible views over the Sibillini mountains.

Steps lead to a small terrace where a private entrance takes you into the living room, kitchenette, two bedrooms, bathroom and storage. Water, electricity and heating are already connected.

More details

Please note: The Local cannot help you to buy any of these houses. Please address all enquiries to the relevant estate agency. But do let us know if you decide to make an offer!

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PROPERTY

‘It’s so frustrating’: My 25-year Italian property renovation nightmare

When US-based Davide Fionda embarked on renovating his mother's Italian property, he couldn't have imagined the obstacles and the timescale in store.

'It's so frustrating': My 25-year Italian property renovation nightmare

Building a home in Italy was almost inevitable for Davide, as he’s been visiting the same area in the Le Marche region, where his Italian-born mother grew up, since he was five years old.

Although he lives in Boston, US, and speaks with a charming East Coast twang, he’s also an Italian citizen and has long dreamed of having his own place to stay for the summer.

He began making this dream a reality back in 1997, when a barn that had been in his mother’s family for generations, in the village of Schito-Case Duca, was damaged by an earthquake.

“My mother, who had both her mother and sister in Italy, decided that it would be really nice for us to build our own new home instead of relying on family to host us each time we visit,” Davide said.

“The goal was simple. I would acquire the barn from my mom, renovate it and move in for the summers, as I’m a college teacher and can spend time in Italy,” he added.

“Simple” the goal may have been, but the project itself proved anything but, as Davide came up against unforeseen bureaucratic problems, legal hiccups and personal disappointments.

READ ALSO: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

As a former entrepreneur in his professional life, he said he’s “used to getting things done”, owning five companies and selling three.

But conquering Italian property renovation is his biggest challenge to date: “Never in my life have I had so many complications as I’ve had with this house,” he told us.

The earthquake-damaged barn. Photo: Davide Fionda

“In the beginning, I knew exactly what I needed and the costs to carry out the project. My mother was, and is still, living in the United States: the project started when she was approached by her godson, who is a geometra (civil engineer), to help her rebuild this barn.

“I started with what I could control. I sat down with an architect and we created a design. I did research on furniture and fixtures. But then the problems started,” Davide said.

His mother wanted a simple design: an open plan house with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the mountains, spanning two floors – a ground floor and a first floor for the bedrooms.

When they went to look at the progress in 2004, he said they were “horrified” at what they saw.

Instead of windows across the front as we asked for, with views of the spectacular Gran Sasso mountains, he took the entire view with two hallways for entering the property and for the bathroom. The bedrooms upstairs were unusable,” he added.

Davide describes himself as “not a typical Italian”, at two metres in height ,and says he always looks for suitable showers and beds when visiting Italy.

It was one of the reasons building his own home was so attractive, as he could custom-make it to fit his needs.

READ ALSO: What taxes do you need to pay if you own a second home in Italy?

But when they viewed the build, he discovered the first floor had ceilings of just one metre and 40 centimetres – not liveable for most people, never mind someone with Davide’s towering frame.

The results didn’t match the renovation plans that had been filed with the comune (town hall) – they wouldn’t have been approved otherwise, as Davide discovered Italian regulations deemed this height of ceiling in a bedroom uninhabitable.

He said he grew up with the geometra and knew him well, saying they were “best friends”. However, on raising the problems with him, Davide said the building professional “refused to fix the house”, adding, “he took my mother’s money and built a house with no bedrooms”.

He said his mother decided to stop construction after spending almost $100,000 on a house that they “could not live in”, adding that they “returned many times over the years to see the shell of the building that we thought we were going to call our home”.

READ ALSO: My Italian Home: How one ‘bargain basement’ renovation ended up costing over €300K

Faced with a stalled project and unsure what to do next, Davide tried to sell the property but got nowhere. He said the “market wasn’t right” for selling it, so he considered his options for fixing the botched renovations to date.

His Italian property project has been stalled for over two decades. Photo: Davide Fionda

Then, eventually, in January of this year he decided “he was sick of looking at it and it was time to act”.

He intended to use Italy’s Bonus ristrutturazioni (Renovation bonus), which allows homeowners to apply for a 50 percent tax reduction on carrying out renovation work.

On asking for professional opinions on whether the house qualified for this bonus, he said he asked five different people and got five different answers.

In the end, he discovered it was eligible and so he could, in theory, proceed with his latest plans.

READ ALSO:

The aim is to create his mother’s original vision – an open plan space with huge windows overlooking the mountains and bedrooms on the first floor – but habitable this time.

Since the beginning of this year, however, Davide has been stuck and hasn’t made progress.

Setbacks have included trying to get a permit to renovate the house, which has proved difficult since the first geometra reportedly didn’t update the changes to the building.

This thorny issue goes back to exactly who owned the house, as Davide told us it had been sectioned off and parts of the house were owned by various members of the family.

The building headaches roll on for Davide. Photo by Martin Dalsgaard on Unsplash

“Italian law makes you want to rip your hair out,” he said.

Getting the deed in his name has been a huge obstacle in itself, as his mother wasn’t the sole owner and some parts of the land that belonged to her were never recorded.

It’s meant months of waiting while archives have been searched and deeds have been drawn up and transferred, made all the trickier by coordinating it all from thousands of miles away.

Plus, the house category was never changed to a residential one, listed previously as farmland and therefore illegal to live in.

It’s just more unexpected bureaucracy for a project that seems to have no end.

“It has been months and months of all these twists and turns, it’s so frustrating,” he told us.

“This has been a 25-year nightmare,” he added.

A partly restored, but unliveable barn for Davide now. Photo: Davaide Fionda.

Although Davide had originally planned to sort out the more practical parts of the project by the end of May, with a ticket booked to Italy to choose the windows, he’s still stuck in the paperwork part and can’t move forward.

Nothing has happened since January. Three or four times I said, ‘screw this’. But it’s not in my DNA to give up,” he said.

Although he has a strong will, the house has taken its toll on him.

Every time we go, this house stares us in the face and it’s upsetting. Family always ask us, ‘when are you going to finish the house?’ It’s a real source of heartache,” he told us.

From this point, he hopes the paperwork will be completed by August and then he can meet with the contractors to get the process started.

That in itself was a tall order, due to the construction demand and shortage of building companies Italy is currently experiencing.

READ ALSO:

It’s a problem made even more challenging by the fact that he’s based in the States and had to find a company that would apply for the credit for the bonus on his behalf.

Despite it all, he’s hopeful that he will get the house they dreamed of by next August and says he’s learned a lot about renovating property in Italy.

For other would-be home renovators, he advised people to “adjust their timeframe expectations” and expect “anything to do with land or real estate to take forever”.

So what is his secret for not giving up, despite the rollercoaster of events and emotions?

It seems he’s holding on to his vision of blissful summers in il bel paese.

“The beauty of Italy is to be, sit in a town square and have conversations,” he told us.

“It’s a beautiful thing.”

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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