One euro Sicilian village property offer sees thousands of willing buyers

Published:  31 Jan at 6 PM
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If you’ve ever dreamed of finding an incredibly affordable property in a charming Sicilian village, now’s your chance!

The offer earlier this week of 17 dilapidated, traditional homes in Sicily’s picturesque mountain village of Sambuca for just one euro each resulted in a property stampede as thousands of would-be buyers rushed to secure the property bargains of the century. The reason for the sales was to save the village from total depopulation, as most of its inhabitants have either died of old age or left for jobs in nearby towns. The offer swiftly made its way to a CNN travel channel news broadcast, resulting in a flood of emails and phone calls and a very bemused deputy mayor.

The catch is that each purchaser must commit to spending €15,000 or more on renovating their properties, some of which seem to be about to fall down, and a security deposit of €5,000 is also required as is a three year time limit on the restorations. Unsurprisingly, hardly any of the prospective would-be expat purchasers are being put off by the requirements. Enquiries have arrived from the UK, USA and a number of other countries, and a team of New York lawyers representing a US-based company are desperate to meet up with Sambuca’s local government officers. Other interested parties include a New York businessman and a wealthy Dubai woman who’s intending to buy and do up all the properties, but who’s unwilling to reveal her name.

The village isn’t the only one to attempt to persuade potentially expat foreigners to help deal with its depopulation by offering bargain-priced properties, with one local mayor in Liguria recently offering a financial incentive of €2,000 to those willing to relocate. He received 17,000 international phone calls, after which he pulled his post whilst saying the offer was just an idea. A year ago, Ollolai town in Sardinia offered 200 uninhabited homes at a price of one euro each, and the Sicilian village of Gangi has had one-euro homes on offer for five years.

It’s a sign of the times, as the younger generation in Italy is unwilling to follow in their parents’ footsteps as they’ve discovered via the internet there’s a great big world of opportunity outside the confines of traditional village life. It’s also more fun in the towns and there’s a chance of getting a real job with a regular wage coming in. Perhaps Airbnb has a better idea with their scheme to save yet another dying Italian community by sponsoring four people to live for three months in the tiny village of Grottoli. The idea is to experience the authenticity of rural life, but it’s not just a conservationists’ favourite summer holiday as the four are expected to help renovate the village’s historical centre and act as tour guides for visitors.
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