How Italian villages are helping foreign buyers find their dream €1 home

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
How Italian villages are helping foreign buyers find their dream €1 home
The town of Mussomeli, Sicily, is trying to make it easier for foreign buyers to move there. Photo: Comune di Mussomeli

If you've dreamt of snapping up one of the €1 houses advertised for sale in Italy, these towns are trying to make the process easier.


Italian towns and villages regularly announce that they're selling off old properties for less than the price of a coffee in a bid to reverse depopulation.

And unsurprisingly, plenty of people are captivated by the idea of living in a remote Italian village and are eager to take these local mayors up on the offer.

But once word gets out, Italian officials with limited English soon find themselves struggling to deal with the deluge of calls from around the world – or to explain the terms and conditions that mean the houses really cost a little more than advertised.

When international media reported that the Sicilian town of Sambuca was selling off houses for a euro, the deupty mayor said he couldn't sleep for weeks afterwards and was trying “not to go nuts” after eeceiving tens of thousands of emails and phone calls in just a few days.

READ ALSO: €1 homes offer causes property stampede in Sicilian village

Maybe learning from Sambuca's experience, other towns now say they're taking a more organised approach.

In Zungoli, a tiny rural village in the Campania region near Naples and the Amalfi Coast, mayor Paolo Caruso told local media he'd assembled a “task force of young volunteers” to handle enquiries from abroad before announcing the houses being sold for next to nothing on the council'swebsite.

He said lts of Italians and local residents had got in touch about the deal, as well as "from the rest of Europe, and some from Russia, America and India.”


Photo: Comune di Zungoli

If they're interested, would-be buyers are encouraged to download and complete an application form, at which point they need to pledge to renovate the house they want “within three years” and give details of what they'll do with their new property.

The good news is that there are tax deductions available of up to 85 percent for renovation work.

But of course, there's a catch. You'll need to be able to get started within just a few months, and pay a refundable €2,000 security deposit.

And Mussomeli, a larger town in Sicily, has made it even easier for prospective foreign buyers, by creating a new multilingual estate agency to process its own €1 home deals.

The unusually modern website features an interactive map that has detailed information on each building – and even more surprisingly, it's all in English. The houses on offer are mainly abandoned stone cottages, in varying states of disrepair.

One of the houses for sale in Mussomeli.

If a new life in Campania is calling you, you can email the agency letting them know which of their houses you're interested in and they'll take it from there.

Again, there's a deposit - €5,000 this time - plus a a €400 fee payable to the estate agency if a house is purchased.

For that, the agency will take you on a tour of the homes and the local area as well as organising the paperwork.

Even if you don't want a tour, the agency writes that you'll still need to fly over as the purchase cannot be completed remotely.

Most of these deals are in the rural south. But if you've got your heart set on moving to another part of Italy, you still have plenty of options.

More than half of Italy's small towns are destined to become deserted in the next few decades as their populations dwindle further.

A quick search on any Italian property website, or a visit to an Italian estate agents, will reveal that there's n'llo shortage of unloved old houses on the market, many of which are proving very difficult to sell.

While they'll cost more than a euro, they don't come with any terms and conditions attached. If you're considering buying a property to renovate in Italy, here's what you can get for under 50,000.

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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