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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

How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

Buying a cheap home to renovate in Italy sounds like the dream, but it can quickly turn nightmarish amid restrictions, red tape, and bickering relatives. Silvia Marchetti explains some of the most unexpected pitfalls and how to avoid them.

How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

With so many Italian towns offloading cheap old properties for sale, lots of people have been tempted by the chance to buy a fixer-upper in a sunny, rural area and live in the perfect idyll. And most are oblivious at first of what risks the purchase might entail. 

The older the properties are, the more potential traps along the way.

READ ALSO: The Italian towns launching alternatives to one-euro homes

There have been several villages in Italy eager to sell €1 and cheap homes that have had to give up on their plans once hidden issues came to light.

Back in 2014, the towns of Carrega Ligure, in Piedmont, and Lecce nei Marsi, in Abruzzo, tried hard to sell their old properties off at a bargain price but just couldn’t get past Italy’s labyrinthine red tape, hellish property restrictions, and scores of bickering relatives.

Both towns’ mayors found themselves chasing after the many heirs of unknown property owners who had emigrated in the 1800s. All existing relatives, who technically owned small parcels of the same house (whether they knew it or not), had to all agree on the sale.

Under Italian law, over time and generations a property ‘pulverizes’ into many little shares depending on how many heirs are involved (if one single heir is not named).

You can end up in a situation where you agree with two owners that you’ll buy their old house, and then one day another five knock at your door saying they never gave their consent, nullifying your purchase. So it’s always best to check beforehand the local land registry to see exactly who, and how many, are the owners, and where they are. 

READ ALSO:

In Carrega Ligure and Lecce nei Marsi, families had long ago migrated across the world and the many heirs to some properties were impossible to track down.

But there were also other obstacles.

“We wanted to start the renovation project by selling dilapidated one euro houses, and then move on to cheap ones, but the tax office would not agree on the price – saying that the old properties had a greater value, that they weren’t classified as abandoned buildings but as perfectly livable houses in good shape”, says Lecce nei Marsi mayor Augusto Barile. 

This meant buyers would have ended up spending tons of money in property sale taxes.

“Even if these were just small houses, potential property taxes start at €700, and could have been much higher,” he explains.

“This would have been a nightmare for any buyer finding out about this at a later stage, after the purchase”.

Barile says the town hall had not made a prior agreement with the tax office to reclassify and ‘downgrade’ the value of the old buildings, which also required an update of the land registry. 

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

Council officials in the village of Carrega Ligure faced a wall of red tape when they tried to sell off abandoned properties. Credit: Comune di Carrega Ligure

Several potential buyers I spoke to back then said that when they found out about the tax office’s involvement by word of mouth (mostly thanks to village gossip at the bar while sipping an espresso), they fled immediately without even taking a look at the houses. 

The best advice in this case is to pay a visit to the local tax bureau ahead of any formal purchase deal and make sure that the old, dilapidated house you want to buy is actually ‘accatastata’ (registered) as such, or you might end up paying the same property sale taxes as you would on a new home. Hiring a tax lawyer or legal expert could be of huge help.

In Carrega Ligure, where old shepherds’ and farmers’ homes are scattered across 11 districts connecting various valleys, a few abandoned homes located near pristine woods came with a nice patch of land – which turned out to be another huge problem.

Old estates often cannot be disposed of due to ‘vincoli’ – limitations – either of environmental or historic nature, that do not allow the property to be sold, or simply due to territorial boundaries that have changed over time, particularly if the original families haven’t lived there for a long time.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s cheap homes frenzy is changing rural villages

In Carrega Ligure it turned out that “a few dwellings located in the most ancient district couldn’t be sold because of hydrogeological risks. State law forbade rebuilding them from scratch, as floods and mudslides had hit the area in the past”, says Carrega Ligure mayor Luca Silvestri.

Meanwhile, other properties were located within or close to the protected mountain park area where the village districts spread, and where there are strict rules against building to preserve the surroundings.

Another issue was that a few old homes came with a patch of land which was quite distant, on the opposite side of the hill, says Silvestri, making it inconvenient for buyers looking for a house with a back garden.

In this case, checking territorial maps, and speaking to competent bodies such as park authorities if there are ‘green restrictions’ in place, can spare future nuisances.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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