Sicilian Properties For Sale For €1
News Posted On: 01 September 2014
A village in Sicily that has watched as young people leave for big cities, never to return, while the remaining population dwindles away, has come up with a solution that might transform rural Italy – and could be used to transform rural Europe.
Italy has suffered in the post-2008 depression, lumped in with the ‘poor south’ of Europe and propped up by German cash – while forced to endure EU-mandated austerity drives too. Yet, the country’s natural assets, its scenic beauty and its houses and villages, remain a tourist attraction. It’s been suggested that property is Italy’s ‘family jewels,’ the irreducible core of the country’s hopes for a future integrated into the world economy. Boil that down, and what does it mean? What does Italy have to sell? Italy.
The people of Gangi, a hilltop town set amid the rolling wheat fields of central Sicily, have taken that idea absolutely literally.
The local council is planning to sell around 20 of the village’s houses, many of them derelict, for one Euro each.
That’s not a misprint. If you’d like a small detached house in a 12th century Sicilian village with a castle, access to hiking trails in the surrounding countryside and less than an hour’s drive from the famous Cefalu holiday resort, stump up your 80p and you’re in.
Conditions of Sale
That price does come with conditions attached – of course there’s a catch – but it isn’t a particularly serious one. The village isn’t interested in selling homes to absentee investors who will sit on the deeds til the chance to make a fast buck comes. They want people to live there. So you’ll be asked to make a €5, 000.00 deposit with the local council, your bond that you’ll renovate and live in the home. Once you do, you get your €5, 000.00 back, and you have five years to do it in, so it’s a far from unreasonable stiupulation. Be warned, though: the homes are typically in a state of serious disrepair, so though they’re not actually derelict, they’re going to cost a few Euros to put right. On average, we’re talking about an estimated €35, 000.00 here. And finally, you’ll have to pay the legal costs associated with property changing hands in Italy. That’s another €6, 000.00 or so, depending on the property’s taxable – not sale or nominal – value.
So the real cost will be about €46, 000.00, spread over 5 years, €5, 000.00 of which you’ll get back at the end of that period. OK, €46, 001.00. That’s £36, 800.00, or £7, 360.00 a year. When you consider that commuting to work by car costs an average £5, 000.00 a year, it’s tempting…
It’s not a new deal. The village council began working on the deal a couple of years ago, but lacked PR expertise and spoke no English, so news of the offer didn’t travel. Now it’s in the hands of Marie Wester, a Swedish property consultant who lives in Sicily and is helping the village to market the deal worldwide.
‘The people of Gangi want to attract foreigners to the town becaue the want to bring it new life,’ Ms. Wester summarised, adding, ‘since I got involved in the sale, there has been massive interest’ from British couples, as well as Swedes, Americans and Russians. ‘The only downside I can think of is that the village is not near the coast, but it is a lovely medieval town, it’s very clean and well-kept and the people are friendly.’
Ms. Wester’s final word? ‘I think it’s a good deal.’
Written by Les Calvert
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