Italian town now selling homes for 3 euros

Italian town now selling homes for 3 euros

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Italy’s ghost towns are pulling out all the stops to attract new residents, and the charming town of Sambuca di Sicilia on the island of Sicily is no exception.

Famous for its wildly popular 1-euro home deals, Sambuca is gearing up for a third round of sales, this time with houses starting at just 3 euros — which is a little over $3.

“We just want to make it clear that by numbering these batches, more sales will likely follow in coming years,” newly elected mayor Giuseppe Cacioppo told CNN in an interview. “Foreigners are flocking to buy our homes, it’s been a hit so far.”

The charming town of Sambuca di Sicilia is selling a third round of houses, starting at a little over $3. Denise Serra – stock.adobe.com

Potential buyers are encouraged to visit Sambuca to check out the 12 homes up for grabs.

“The timing is perfect,” Cacioppo told the outlet. “Tourists and interested buyers currently traveling to Italy, and those planning a trip in spring and summer can come take a look.”

These homes, in the historic Saracen district, are as “structurally stable as those so far sold,” but do need some work to make them habitable.

Sambuca shot to fame in 2019 when it offered 16 houses for 1 euro apiece. Two years later, another batch went for 2 euros. This fire-sale strategy attracted buyers from as far away as the Middle East, pumping 20 million euros (around $21.8 million) into the local economy.

“The two batches of houses, owned by the town hall, revitalized the private real estate sector,” said Cacioppo. “People rushing to grab one at auction but didn’t make the final cut bought a cheap house instead. So far, 250 homes have been sold.”

Sambuca’s secret? The town owns the abandoned homes, unlike other depopulated Italian towns struggling to get permission from their absent owners.

Sambuca shot to fame in 2019 when it offered 16 houses for 1 euro each. Two years later, another batch went for 2 euros. Universal Images Group via Getty Images

After a 1969 earthquake in the Belice Valley, locals fled, leaving empty homes behind.

“Rome’s government back then approved a specific law for Sambuca’s revival that granted the town hall ownership of the abandoned homes, so we can dispose of these as we wish, and there are no middle agencies,” Cacioppo added.

This streamlined process means no delays between owners and buyers. The homes on offer this time include two- to three-bedroom houses, built with golden-brown stones and spread over one to three floors.

Picture iron-wrought balconies overlooking cobbled alleys, panoramic terraces, and original green-painted wooden doors with decorated arches and windows. Some even boast tiny internal courtyards with lemon trees and painted tile floors.

This fire-sale strategy attracted buyers from as far away as the Middle East, pumping 20 million euros (around $21.8 million) into the local economy. Denise Serra – stock.adobe.com

However, most are in desperate need of repair, filled with forgotten items and dusty furniture.

Restyles usually start at €30,000 (around $32,500) for a simple makeover, but can soar above €200,000 (roughly $217,000) for a luxury retreat.

One American couple even installed an internal elevator in their bargain home. Many buyers who snagged homes in previous rounds ended up purchasing more properties, often combining attached homes into one large estate.

Locals, eager to cash in on the demand, are also selling off garages and old attics.

Most new residents are Americans, creating a “Little America” in this remote Sicilian spot. Salvatore – stock.adobe.com

Most new residents are Americans, creating a “Little America” in this remote Sicilian spot. “Foreigners may have been a rare sight here before 2019, but they’ve become part of the landscape now,” Cacioppo said.

The town hall has even opened remote-working spaces to attract digital workers, offering free stays and boosting wireless internet access in the narrow alleys. “Our town is now definitely on the map,” Cacioppo said.

In this latest auction, homes will be sold to the highest bidder, with bids placed in sealed envelopes and opened in front of a judge.

Buyers must complete renovations within three years after purchasing the home, or risk losing their deposit. Pictures is an old church in the town. imagesef – stock.adobe.com

A 5,000 euro (around $5,430) deposit is required to participate. If you lose the bid, your money is returned immediately. If you win, the deposit becomes your guarantee.

Buyers must complete renovations within three years or risk losing their deposit, although the town hall has been flexible due to the pandemic.

Previous sales saw homes sell for between 1 and 25,000 euros (roughly $27,133), with most going for between 5,000 euros (around $5,426) and 10,000 euros (around $10,750).

Interested buyers can find photos, descriptions, and application forms on the town hall’s official website.

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