Why home buyers are flocking to Italy
It was an invasion — but a positive one!” That’s how Giuseppe Cacioppo, deputy mayor of Sambuca, Sicily, described the sale of his town’s abandoned homes to foreign buyers, the auctions of which started at just one euro (Rs 78).
Sambuca succeeded in selling off 16 historic but derelict stone homes to buyers from the United States, China, France, Britain, Russia, and Argentina.
There is, of course, always a catch. The properties for sale are almost always in a dilapidated condition, and towns stipulate that buyers must commit to spending thousands of dollars in restoration and renovation to make them habitable again.
In Sambuca’s case, for example, buyers must agree to spend at least 15,000 euros (Rs 11 lakh) on renovations, and hand over a 5,000 euro (Rs 4 lakh) security deposit, which is refunded as long as
the conditions of the purchase are met.
None of the homes actually sold for a euro. In May, the homes were sold in a blind auction where bids started at one euro, and the 16 houses ended up selling for prices between 1,000 euros (Rs 79,000) and 25,000 euros (Rs 19 lakh).
On top of the 16 owned by local government, a further 50 properties were sold on the private market.
Gary and Tamara Holm from California were happy to have ultimately missed out on the houses at auction, though not by choice.
“We picked one and we bid 5,050 (Rs 4 lakh) euros on it,” Gary told me. The house ended up going for 10,000 euros — a price that Gary thought was ‘way too much.’
“When it was a euro — absolutely. But when it became a blind auction, it made it a little more challenging to get what the investment should be,” Tamara explained. Gary and Tamara eventually paid 19,000 euros (Rs 14 lakh) for their home, which they bought from a private seller.
Now if a home for $1 sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. After an earthquake in 1968 killed more than 200 people, many residents in simply cashed in on their insurance and built new, modern homes just down the road. If you’re willing to accept that the perfect home doesn’t exist, then the one euro homes still seem like the best investment.
Italy’s abandoned homes have been purchased by foreigners, on the promise that they will renovate