Homes in one Italian town are being sold for as little as €1 in an attempt to revive its fortunes. But, following the mantra of ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’, there is a big catch.
Dozens of properties in the Sicilian hilltop town Sambuca have been put up for sale on the cheap to boost an area that has undergone significant depopulation in recent years.
While anyone interested can more and less buy a home immediately, according to local officials, there is a sizeable caveat. New owners must agree to renovating their homes within three years, at a cost starting from €15,000 (£13,200). In addition, they will need to stump up a €5,000 security deposit – although this will be returned once the refurbishment has been completed.
Most of the homes in question are in a state of disrepair – run-down and ramshackle – which makes refurbishment a must. Officials are attempting to lure people back to the rural city after a mass exodus of locals to other, larger cities.
The prospect of stunning views across the Mediterranean island, a slower pace of life and the chance to experience Sicily’s world-famous culture and cuisine will no doubt have appeal to many investors. With this in mind, it’s little surprise that 10 of the properties have apparently already been snapped up.
It helps that the two-storey homes – which feature courtyards, arcaded entrances and palm gardens - are available to anyone because they’re owned by the city hall itself.
“As opposed to other towns that have merely done this for propaganda, this city hall owns all €1 houses on sale,” Giuseppe Cacioppo, Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councillor, told CNN. “We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you’ll get it [in] no time.”
Cacioppo insists buyers will get plenty from their purchase. “Sambuca is known as the ‘city of splendour’,” he said. “This fertile patch of land is dubbed the ‘earthly paradise’. We’re located inside a nature reserve, packed with history. Gorgeous beaches, woods and mountains surround us. It’s silent and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay.”
Since the news was broken by CNN last week, the response has been spectacular. Cacioppo said he’s been unable to sleep and has been trying ‘not to go nuts’ after reportedly receiving tens of thousands of emails and phone calls in just a few days, with particularly strong interest from the US and UK. This has included businesspeople, tourists and prospective second-home owners.
Those interested in a home in an idyllic wine-producing region with views of Mount Etna on a clear day can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. But you may have to act fast as competition for the homes is proving very fierce.