How to buy an entire village
FROM THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE TO CONNECTICUT, BARGAINS ABOUND
Why buy a house when you can buy the whole village? It is not as rare as it seems. A Yorkshire village in England, complete with more than 40 houses and more than 1,000 acres, has just been put on the market for £20 million ($37 million). Left untouched for 50 years, it is a time warp and a great opportunity to put on your own soap opera.
Recently, the Savills real estate group sold the hamlet of Little Rollright for an undisclosed sum. It had been on the market for $35 million. It has a manor house, built in the 17th century, five cottages, and sits on 509 acres.
The village chapel is not included in the price, as it is owned by the Church of England.
If the price tag of the abandoned villages in England seem a little steep, you can have an abandoned fort from the First World War — on the market for just $650,000. Located just off the Lincolnshire coast near Grimsby, it requires a bit of tender loving care.
But looking elsewhere might get you a much better deal.
THE ABANDONED SPANISH HAMLET: $325,000
In Galicia, northwestern Spain, a village complete with a cattle barn, bakery, orchard and six houses.
But selling O Penso, which comes with 100 acres, has been hard: a spokesman for the agent said that more than 500 people were interested, but its isolation and the huge amount of work it needs has proved a sticking point.
In 2014, a mayor in Galicia offered an entire 15th-century village free of charge to someone to redevelop it, as the municipality lacked the money. But the catch was they had to be the right candidate: the mayor would only accept offers from people with a plan to rescue every one of the houses there.
In Spain there are more than 3,5000 abandoned villages, and 125 of them are for sale, according to Elvira Fafian, an agent at La Inmobiliaria Aldeas abandonadas, which specializes in selling abandoned villages. Prices start at about $45,000 for an abandoned village.
THE AMERICAN GHOST TOWN: $3 MILLION
In Connecticut, an eccentric millionaire and aerospace tycoon named Raymond Schmitt constructed a 62-acre town that was originally built in the 19th century. It has been on the market since 2014.
Schmitt even built a gothic chapel in the nearby town, which was painstakingly taken to pieces, transported 45 kilometres down the road and reassembled in Johnsonville.
The village grew over the years and eventually became a working replica of a small Victorian town, including a post office, sawmill and barbershop, schoolhouse, general store and the original homestead of the mill owners. It also has a water- fall and a wooden dam.
It’s rumoured that his ghost still stalks the site, lamenting the fact that it never opened as a theme park as planned. The village was put up for auction on Halloween in 2014, but remains unsold.
THE ITALIAN HAMLET ON EBAY: $360,00
The drastic decline in population left many of Calsazio’s stone and timber houses lying empty. The solution: eBay.
The listing described the hamlet as “used,” and the Alpine hamlet which is at an altitude of 1,870 feet, has 14 houses that were snapped up online.
There are no roads inside the village, but just narrow, twisting paths and flights of wonky stone steps.
These mostly empty villages and hamlets are scattered across Italy.
“If the eBay auction awakens interest in our region, then it’s welcome,” said the local mayor, Anna Bonino.
“The problem with these tiny villages is that unless someone intervenes, they are at risk of disappearing altogether.”
In 2014, a mayor in the Sicilian village of Gangi gave away houses in the village for just $1.
IF THE EBAY AUCTION AWAKENS INTEREST IN OUR REGION, THEN IT’S WELCOME. THE PROBLEM WITH THESE TINY VILLAGES IS THAT UNLESS SOMEONE INTERVENES, THEY ARE AT RISK OF DISAPPEARING ALTOGETHER. — ANNA BONINO, MAYOR OF CALSAZIO, ITALY