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PROPERTY

UPDATED: These are the Italian towns offering houses for one euro

The number of Italian 'ghost towns' selling off abandoned homes for a euro is still growing. Here's a look at the new and updated list.

UPDATED: These are the Italian towns offering houses for one euro
Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP

For several years now, a growing number of Italian towns and villages have been announcing ‘one euro’ home schemes: selling off old properties for less than the price of a coffee in a bid to reverse depopulation.

And many buyers – mainly from outside of Italy – have already taken advantage of the offers.

The houses available usually need a lot of expensive renovation work and come with terms and conditions attached. But despite this, buyers insist they’re still a bargain – and that the scheme has allowed them to discover and become part of a small Italian community that they’d never have found otherwise.

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

After several years, interest remains high, with towns announcing these deals recently saying they’ve been flooded with enquiries from would-be investors and second home owners from all over the world.

If you’ve been tempted, you may find that there are so many towns in Italy competing to offload their old houses that it can be difficult to know where to start.

We’ve looked at all the offers available at the moment and selected some of the most interesting ones, which you can find listed below.

Plus, the interactive map below provides an extensive rundown of one-euro houses currently on sale throughout Italy.

If the one-euro home schemes aren’t for you, keep in mind that this is not the only way to snap up a bargain property in Italy – many foreign buyers are also benefiting from other types of ‘cheap home’ deals, which you can learn more about here.

Happy house-hunting – and please do let us know if you find your dream Italian home on this list!

Source: Case a 1 euro

Leonforte, Sicily

The latest place to try the one euro house scheme is the Sicilian village of Leonforte, putting up cheap homes on the market in its historic Baroque centre.

Based in the province of Enna, this old town is host to a mix of cultural and natural attractions, which the local municipality wants repopulate to preserve its social and economic future.

Leonforte’s one euro home project provides for the redevelopment of urban areas, intended to attract families, tourism and businesses.

If you want to find out more and apply for a bargain Sicilian bolthole, here’s the application form.

Pratola Peligna, Abruzzo

Just half an hour from the ski resort of Roccaraso and the same distance from the coastal town of Pescara is this small and charming municipality, in the province of l’Aquila.

Albeit a small area with some 7250 inhabitants, there’s a lot uninhabited space, so the authorities are hoping to lure in newcomers with some enticing real estate deals.

Italy’s building bonus: Can you really claim back the cost of renovating property?

Town mayor Antonella Di Nino said, “Our municipality suffered the indirect effects of the L’Aquila earthquake, so we immediately set to work to reactivate the necessary procedures to receive funding to rebuild individual buildings or building aggregates,” reported property and finance site Idealista.

Out of around 600 buildings, they found that 40 percent were abandoned.

They also discovered that many properties were sitting vacant as they couldn’t trace their owners. Some were still listed under the name of citizens born in the 1890s and in other cases, property owners had died and the inheritance had never been taken.

To reinvigorate the town and give people the chance to get their hands on a deal, they thought to offer these properties at a sale of one euro.

For the latest houses on sale at the symbolic price of one euro, check the municipality’s website.

Bivona, Sicily

A small town deep in the heart of Sicily, the local authorities want to enhance and recover the town’s neglected and abandoned buildings.

As in the other Italian towns and villages offering properties for next to nothing, Bivona’s young people have left in search of work elsewhere, leaving the area depopulated and in danger of soon becoming a ghost town.

The Sicilian town, which has just 3,800 residents, offers its one euro scheme with an added bonus.

To beat the competition from other towns offering the same deal, Bivona is easing buying restrictions and offering tax bonuses for those who buy one of a dozen empty and dilapidated properties in the town.

More information about the properties available and the buying requirements is available, partly in English, here.

OPINION: Bargain homes and fewer crowds – but Italy’s deep south is not for everyone

The terms and conditions buyers must agree to include paying a €2,500 deposit and declaring their intended use of the property, which can be anything from a family home to a holiday rental property, or even a craft workshop.

In the case of competing offers, you’ll get more points if you intend to speed up the restoration project and if you use renewable materials.

Bisaccia, Campania

This town is hoping to attract families and groups of friends to buy a couple of bargain properties between them.

The picturesque town of Bisaccia, in an inland part of Italy’s southern Campania region, is started to put dilapidated buildings on the market for a euro last year, in hopes of reviving the community.

But unlike other towns offering such deals for people committing to renovations, Bisaccia’s officials say its tightly-clustered buildings would suit more communal projects. Find out more on the official website listing the bargain homes.

Mussomeli, Sicily

This larger town in Sicily focused on making it easy for prospective foreign buyers to find their dream one euro home, by creating a multilingual estate agency to process its own one-euro 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.

READ ALSO: How and where to find your dream renovation property in Italy

One of the houses for sale in Mussomeli. Photo: Comune di Mossomeli

Again, you’ll be responsible for all the fees associated with purchasing a house and you are obliged to renovate the property.

The agency will take you on a tour of the homes and the local area as well as organising the necessary paperwork.

As one of the fist towns to offer one euro homes Mussomeli has previously received thousands of email enquiries, so you might need to be patient if you have your heart set on this area.

There are currently six one euro homes listed on their site.

READ ALSO:

Cantiano, Marche

The historic town centre of Cantiano in the province of Pesaro has joined the one euro scheme, with the aim of reviving abandoned old buildings and encouraging residents, tourism and businesses.

Anyone who buys a one euro house in this area will need to pay fees for the transfer of ownership of the property and all other home buying costs, such as notary fees and taxes.

Once the sale has gone through, you must start works within one year and complete the project within four years. For details on how to apply, see the municipality’s website.

Cammarata, Sicily

Most of these towns are in Sicily, and another option on the southern island is Cammarata, a town of 6,000 in the province of Argingento, which started advertised properties on sale for €1 in 2020.

Here’s an English-language website which facilitates the sale of the houses in this area.

Sambuca, Sicily

The deputy mayor of this small Sicilian village got more than he bargained for after announcing the town was selling off 17 houses for one euro each.

He said he was “trying not to go mad” after receiving calls around the clock from potential buyers – many of them in English, which he says he has a limited command of.

Since then, the scheme must have done so well that they’ve doubled the house prices – it’ll now set you back €2 for one of their properties.

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

Some of the houses for sale in Sambuca, Sicily, for just €1. Photos: Comune di Sambuca di Sicilia.

For the list of €2 houses in Sambuca, click here. To read the FAQs, click here. There are currently 16 available at the time of writing.

New owners must commit to refurbishing their property within three years with costs starting from €15,000 (£12,800), plus a €5,000 security deposit.

Sambuca’s official website gives a glimpse of the thousands of queries the village says it has been fielding ever since its offer took off, for example: “Do I have to be an Italian citizen to buy real estate?” (No.) “Must I transfer residency to Sambuca after buying real estate?” (No.) 

The FAQs also state that if more than one buyer wants the same property, the highest bidder gets priority – which suggests that you could find yourself stumping up a lot more than €2 if you want to secure your Sicilian home.

See the full list of Italian towns currently offering houses for sale for one euro here.

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!

Member comments

  1. I love The Local. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without you guys.

    When I see CNN (they don’t half of what you know about Italian real estate) run absurd articles about happy one-euro homeowners, I always have to bite my tongue. At least The Local makes reference to the drawbacks as well as the plusses. I did much the same in this article, which I wrote as a rebuttal to CNN’s malarkey.

    https://cappuccino.substack.com/p/why-those-buy-a-house-in-italy-for?r=kbmi7&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

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PROPERTY

Nine things we’ve learned about claiming Italy’s building ‘superbonus’

Two years after it was introduced, Italy's popular renovation discount scheme continues to cause headaches for homeowners trying to access it. Here's what we've learned so far about claiming the so-called 'superbonus 110'.

Nine things we've learned about claiming Italy's building 'superbonus'

In May 2020, as the pandemic gripped Italy in its first wave, the government introduced a new building bonus programme to kickstart the country’s sluggish, Covid-hit economy.

This emergency response, known as the ‘superbonus 110′, came as part of the government’s Decreto Rilancio (Relaunch Decree), which offered a tax deduction of up to 110% on the expenses related to making energy upgrades and reducing seismic risk.

Other types of building bonuses existed before – and continue to be available.

However, none had offered quite so high a value to those looking to make home improvements on their property.

In fact, not only did the new measure incentivise people to upgrade their existing properties, it encouraged people to buy old, abandoned properties, making previously unfeasible renovation projects, in financial terms, a genuine possibility.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s building ‘superbonus’ has changed in 2022

We counted among those taking the plunge to buy a crumbling and uninhabitable building, with the intention to carry out extensive works thanks to funds from the superbonus.

Our property search completely changed due to the scheme and we planned on taking advantage of the generous sums of state aid.

After looking around and viewing properties for months, attracted by adverts that claimed a property was eligible for restoration with the superbonus, we found an old farmhouse – which had become a derelict wreck – in the lowlands countryside outside Bologna, near where we are already located.

(Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP)

In our case, we had to demolish the old property and rebuild a home from scratch – it couldn’t be restored due to earthquake damage in the area, rendering it far too unstable and destroyed to ever be habitable again.

READ ALSO: Why we decided to build our new house in Italy out of wood

That wasn’t a disappointment as we had the opportunity to design our own home instead, choosing every angle, material, layout and floorplan we wanted. It would have been beyond our means to take on a project like this without the superbonus, but with it, we thought it was possible.

Incredibly, the small print of the incentive permits this too, as the government intended to reinvigorate the nation’s many old, damaged and inefficient buildings and recover lost land – including using existing plots to build new homes if the property was too damaged, as is the case for us.

So, we ploughed all our savings and the money from the sale from my husband’s apartment into a collapsing set of bricks, filled with junk and debris from years gone by.

Although daunting, the figures stacked up and meant that we could create our own country home with a manageable mortgage for around 15 years.

Since I’m now 37, that seemed to work well and it all looked reasonable.

READ ALSO:

But it was just the beginning, before the superbonus spiralled into delays, bureaucratic quagmires and fraudulent claims, which all contributed to making accessing the funds a stalemate for many homeowners.

18 months into our project, we have got as far as a concrete shape in the ground, the old farmhouse demolished, but no sign of our future home still – and a budget that has blown out of proportion, changing our financial future considerably.

18 months ‘ progress looks like this on our Italian property renovation project. Photo: Karli Drinkwater

The clock is ticking with deadlines too, albeit briefly extended, to access the bonus in time.

Since its inception, here’s what we have learned about (trying to) claim Italy’s superbonus 110.

1. Demand slowed down starting renovation projects

Within its first year, interest in the scheme was so high that building companies were overwhelmed and projects piled up in a queue.

Many firms stopped taking on new clients, as they battled to push through projects that were already delayed by months and some homeowners abandoned their plans altogether as a result.

As the backlog built up, firms increased their construction quotes and material prices rose – driven by a worldwide boom in cost increases and also most certainly not helped by Italy’s superbonus-fuelled building boom.

Photo by Bill Mead on Unsplash

The situation has continued to worsen due to the war in Ukraine, which has impeded the import and subsequently driven the cost of raw materials.

It was this demand that also saw us sit and wait, watching on while absolutely nothing happened and we continued to be stuck, all the while watching the project cost continually rack up.

READ ALSO: How to stay out of trouble when renovating your Italian property

It had taken four months just for the sale of the wreck to go through, so we were on the back foot already as far as the bonus is concerned.

We were ready to get going in May 2021 after putting in our offer on the property in the January, but in the past year, very little has happened.

We’ve since had to move out of our apartment, as the new owners understandably wanted to move in and we’re now effectively camping out in a part of my husband’s parents’ new house.

As they, too, are trying to access the superbonus, our life has been packed into boxes while we our living area and office is all squeezed into a garage.

I write this surrounded by scaffolding and orange construction barrier tape, now heavily pregnant, and trying not to lose hope that we’ll have our own place to go to.

Our building project has got no further than knocking down the old wreck and laying down the concrete foundations. One year on, there’s not even the bones of a structure.

READ ALSO:

So is it still demand for the bonus and materials that’s causing the delay?

Yes, but also a huge part is down to how you can claim the bonus.

2. Credit transfer problems stopped the banks lending

Another recent cause for a further slowdown is the change in how people could access the bonus and the increasing difficulty of obtaining credit.

There are a few routes to obtaining Italy’s superbonus. The option of offsetting tax from income is likely only financially viable for high earners, as any unused tax discount gets lost.

Image: moerschy / Pixabay

Let’s say your renovation costs come to €100,000, which are tax deductible at 110 percent for five years.

So, if you have a tax break of €22,000 every year for five years, therefore, but your tax bill from your income tax, known as ‘IRPEF’, falls short of that, you lose the deduction and will end up footing the rest of the renovation bill.

READ ALSO: Do you have to be Italian to claim Italy’s building bonuses?

Note – the latest changes specify tax deductions for the superbonus will be spread over four years, not five as previously.

Little surprise, then, that the other two options to access the funds – transferring the credit (cessione del credito) or discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura) – have been more popular.

It effectively means you either trade the tax credit for cash to an Italian financial institution, such as a bank, for the credit transfer, or directly to your contractor or supplier for the discount on the invoice.

Using the credit transfer system means you’ll get cash back that you paid, directly in your bank account.

It’s a slightly riskier route than a discount on the invoice, as the latter means the the supplier recovers the bonus on your behalf, taking a slice of it as a fee.

So, you get less of the bonus but you don’t have to deal with the paperwork and the contractor takes the burden of getting the credit.

“The easiest option is the discount on the invoice,” tax expert Nicolò Bolla of Accounting Bolla told us.

“It takes care of the credit transfer. If you deal with the bank yourself, it takes some expertise and requires a little knowledge of technology and the system, such as downloading and uploading invoices.

“Contractors have multiple sales, so they are more trained to do that,” he added.

However, billions of euros of fraudulent claims led the government to introduce stricter laws, blocking being able to access credit for months, putting the bonus – and renovation projects – on hold.

Our builders were using credit from financial services provider Poste Italiane, who reduced the threshold of credit. This pushed all the building jobs back by months with no word on when works would start.

In that time, they had to search for another bank willing to fund the bonus, while home construction sites lay dormant.

3. Banks blocked and refused credit halfway through projects

Some homeowners faced extra setbacks when they encountered not only delays, but an outright cancellation of prior agreed credit.

Peter (not his real name) told us that he had got the green light to access one of the other building bonuses that can be used in conjunction with the superbonus – the Renovation Bonus (Bonus Ristrutturazioni).

READ ALSO: Budget 2022: Which of Italy’s building bonuses have been extended?

It allows homeowners to apply for a 50 percent tax reduction on carrying out renovation work in both individual properties and condominiums.

The maximum limit on expenses of €96,000 and the 50 percent offset to taxes is divided into annual instalments for 10 years. Or you can apply for the invoice discount or credit transfer.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

He applied and was approved for credit transfer for works on his home in Modigliana, Emilia Romagna. After buying a property with his partner in December 2020, they began renovations in January 2021, based on credit approved by Italian bank UniCredit.

He told us they carried out €60,000 of works for a new floor and underfloor, electrics and plumbing throughout, a new boiler, replastering walls and installing a new bathroom.

That means that €30,000 credit was due from the bank, but Peter told us they are now refusing to pay out.

“The excuse from the bank is that we didn’t sign with them, however they didn’t ask us to sign anything when they opened the portal for us at the beginning,” he told us.

So, while the bank registered the renovation jobs for them on the government’s portal in order to be able to claim the bonus, they now refuse to return the credit as originally agreed.

“The thing that upsets me so much with UniCredit is we made about 10 payments to builders and suppliers costing €7.50 a time (in administration fees) to make it, and taking the time to go into the bank especially, to get it registered correctly. And to be let down by them now, really is pretty bad,” he added.

Taking this route is “harder” according to Bolla, as “banks prefer to deal with larger businesses than to give credit to individuals,” he said.

For Peter, he now has the option of deducting the tax from his annual income tax bill or finding another bank to take on and transfer the credit.

4. Finding other solutions to open up the credit transfer system

As accessing finance slowed down and projects ground to a halt, the government intervened with yet another regulatory change to the superbonus.

Along with extending the deadline of 30 percent completion of works for single family homes by three months – to the end of September 30th 2022 – the authorities also looked at how to make accessing the funds more straightforward.

The reason for so many changes stems from how the superbonus originally started.

“Two years ago, it was the Wild West. Anyone could get credit to use the bonus – a person, company or business. Due to that, the authorities lost track of sales and plenty of fraudulent claims slipped through the net,” according to Bolla.

“Everything stopped. Then they regulated too much, creating more bureaucracy and delays. So now, they’ve deregulated a little to reopen the transfer of credit,” he added.

Understanding why there were delays to accessing the bonus are complex and manifold. Along with the reasons above, banks also faced rising inflation, which in part caused them to stop lending.

“Somebody needs to offset the tax at some point. Many banks wanted to buy the credit and resell it to larger banks, but any credit that couldn’t be offset in their taxes got wasted.

“It made the banks less willing to buy credit, which in turn slowed down companies’ and individuals’ ability to access it,” he added.

Now, to keep better track of works being done, Italy’s Inland Revenue Agency (L’Agenzia delle Entrate) has introduced better tracking systems in its latest ruling. These will follow the trail of where the money is going, with the aim of cutting down on time lost to bureaucracy.

5. You might – legally – be left with a half-finished house

Depending on what you’ve agreed with your construction company, you may be taking a gamble with the superbonus no matter what, even if works have begun and the system has eased the bottleneck on claiming the funds.

Our builders would only go ahead with the project if we signed a document, in short saying that we understand the project won’t be finished if the funds aren’t available in time or if works roll on past the deadline.

Photo by Filiz Elaerts on Unsplash

The firm wasn’t going to be liable for paying for the construction of our home (and others’ projects too) if they continued to get caught in delays.

In this case, we had no choice. Sign it and hope for the best or lose the €200,000 that has already gone into the works and wreck purchase so far.

6. There are added fees to account for when claiming the superbonus

If you’ve ever sold or bought property in Italy, you’ll know there is an abundance of hidden costs associated with it.

From agency and notary fees, taxes to legal costs, buying a property in Italy can incur another ten percent of the purchase price. For a list of the hidden costs to watch out for, see our guide here.

When it comes to restoring properties using the superbonus, you’ll need to fork out for various certificates, including an energy certificate known as ‘Certificato Energetico APE’ to prove that the property would benefit from energy upgrades using government funds.

This will also need to be done afterwards to prove that the property meets the requirements of the superbonus and has jumped up at least two energy classes.

You may also incur charges from your local town hall or comune for making changes to the property. In our case, as it’s a considerable project, the administrative fee just for submitting our house plans to review cost €12,000.

In total, the cost of fees on our project – before any restoration works using the bonus have taken place – have come to €30,000.

7. The amount you claim and pay continues to rise

Since the superbonus began, the scope of house restoration projects has changed significantly.

The noted demand pushed up construction quotes and material prices continue to rise, vastly increasing the scale of a project’s budget.

It will come as a blow to home renovators who thought they were potentially getting considerable sums of money from the government and therefore making huge savings.

In fact, there will still be large pots of funds to come from the government, but the problem is the price you pay will track the increases and rise too.

Our particular home renovation project has almost doubled since we began.

We initially accounted for a final cost of €450,000 for all works, using the superbonus for almost half of that.

Instead, the quote we received in November was over €700,000 (on top of what we’ve paid for the wreck) and we were told this is unlikely to be the final cost, rising in line with continuing material price rises when works do finally get underway.

The impact of this is life-changing. In our case, it means we’ve had to apply for soaring monthly repayments for 25 years instead of 15. And that’s only if the bank agrees to grant us such a huge financial commitment – which it has, as yet, not done.

8. You might have to pay taxes if you sell your house after claiming the superbonus

At least for a while, you may have to stick with the property you’ve renovated using the superbonus.

Once you’ve claimed this building bonus, essentially you can’t sell it on for another five years if you want to avoid paying capital gains tax.

Tax expert Nicolò Bolla said that this depends on when you bought the property, however.

If you already owned the house for more than five years and took advantage of the superbonus, you can sell it on with no capital gains tax.

On the other hand, if you just bought the property to benefit from the bonus, and therefore have only owned it for under five years, you’ll be liable for the tax – that is, if you make a gain on its sale.

If you bought an old wreck and renovated it, for instance, it’s likely that you will.

For more advice on selling your property after using the superbonus, remember to check with professionals beforehand.

9. It continues to be popular and set back by delays

Despite the recently extended deadline, homeowners continue to wait in queues for their projects to begin or be completed.

Tax expert Bolla told us he gets “daily requests” for the superbonus, but issues a word of caution about the incentive.

“It is a long journey and you need to have some money to renovate your property with the bonus. It’s an expanded timeframe and there are still supply chain issues,” he said.

Despite this, though, Bolla believes it’s an “amazing” scheme. “We have a lot of energy dependence, so this is a good way to upgrade. Normally, the way we deal with our reliance on energy is to punish those who pollute more with higher energy bills, but those are always lower income people.

“Higher energy costs just punish the poor – this, instead, is a good way to solve the problem.”

See more in our articles about property in Italy on The Local.

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