“I’m leaving”, Rubia Daniels told her husband before her first-ever flight to Sicily, just three days after reading about €1 houses in Italy on CNN.
She was only half-joking; the bargain home scheme certainly sounded enticing enough to run away for.
Rubia decided she had to make the trip to Mussomeli, a small town 40 minutes from coastal Agrigento in the southwest of Italy’s biggest island, to see for herself if the promised deal – a slice of Sicily for the price of a gelato – was too good to be true.
Read more: Italy’s one euro houses: who can buy one and how does it work?
The California-based Brazilian, 49, contacted an estate agent at the start of 2019 to schedule a tour of the town’s abandoned properties that were on sale for the unbelievable price of just over €1 each. “When I went that first day, I was the only person on the tour. It was something completely new and I had this incredible catalogue of 150 houses to see,” she tells The Independent.
How it works
The Italy-wide “Case 1 Euro” initiative was launched in 2017 in a bid to reclaim derelict properties and attract investment and residents to breathe new life into poorly populated rural areas.
Increasing numbers of young people have been leaving the Italian countryside in favour of city life in recent years, forcing elderly relatives to leave vacant homes to the local authorities. Second-home owners often do this too, in order to avoid the taxes attached to owning a property in Italy.
These abandoned houses and buildings are then put on the market for the negligible sum of €1 – although there are usually strings attached to the purchase, which vary between destinations.
Conditions that buyers must abide by might include planning and completing the refurbishment of the property within a set timeframe, and committing to live there for a minimum length of time.
In Mussomeli, buyers must restore the exterior of the property to its original façade. However, the inside of the house is yours to do with as you choose. But time is of the essence: failure to renovate the shell of the house within three years results in a fine of €5,000.
Although the houses on offer cost almost nothing to purchase, buyers should be…
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