A house for one euro. This is what has been happening in Sicily in recent years attracting buyers from other countries, especially the United States. In 2019, the Sicilian city of Sambuca began to raise the interest of foreign buyers with the first offer of 16 houses at 1 euro each. Then in July of 2021 it put another 10 older properties on the market for an index of 2 euros.
The second bidding period ended with hundreds of applications from interested buyers, almost all from the United States. The city council decided to auction the properties off to the best buyer. The prices ranged from 500 to 7,000 euros ($530 and $7,550).
The houses, however, had some drawbacks: they were old, abandoned and, in many cases, almost on the verge of collapse. But its sale value was lower than an espresso. They became very attractive to adventurers on the other side of the Atlantic.
The city’s deputy mayor, Joseph Cassioppo, told CNN that many buyers offered to buy online without having to look at the property in person. “Almost 80 percent of the people who wrote, inquired and participated in this second auction were from the United States or Americans,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest, thankfully, it’s not slow.”
One of the latest buyers is chef Daniel Patino, co-founder of New Food Chain in the United States. He took a single three-story building and a spacious terrace, and offered to pay €2,500, which no one won. Patino did it all remotely. A local woman from Sambuca contacted him through city hall and sent him a video and enough photos of the property to give Patino an idea.
“It had an outside little rustic patio. I could not see what the inside was like because it might have been dangerous to walk in, so I guess it will need quite a lot of remodeling,” he explained to CNN. Patino could use the property as a vacation home or as the Italian branch of his restaurant chain. He said that someday the dream will come true.
The Italian lifestyle is about living without going a hundred miles an hour, like we do in the United States. It’s about taking time to relax and not always worry about workDaniel Patino, co-founder of New Food Chain
The experience was a little different for 57-year-old Australian Danny McCabe, who bought an abandoned house in Italy for €1 but warned those who wanted to do the same because it entailed a lot of work.
In statements given to iNews, McCabe recalled that abandoned properties require a substantial investment of time and money. “The €1 plan is not for everyone. That’s because you’re purchasing something that has been abandoned. The roof is falling off or the water is leaking,” he said of his home in Muzomale, Sicily.
“Don’t think you’re going to get a bargain, then sell it cheap. Be prepared to work hard and be willing to spend money on a house that needs a lot of renovations,” the Australian added.
Young people in these cities are more likely to choose cosmopolitan jobs over rural and social occupations. Villages are abandoned and end up with elderly people, who sometimes leave their homes in the hands of local authorities.
A spokesperson for the municipality of Mosomeli said that houses are sold for one euro because for some people do not want to pay property tax. “Many Italians own more than one property and pay the maximum tax to the government, so they prefer to sell their house for 1 euro, rather than pay extra.”
According to The Independent, officials believe new homeowners will stimulate the economy by buying local products, hiring local construction workers, paying for local sites and attractions, and improving hotel or airbnb tourism.