Buying a property in Italy sounds rather extravagant but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it’s possible to find a stone house in a hilltop town with panoramic views for the symbolic sum of 1 euro (US$1.13).
What’s the catch? The properties on offer have been abandoned for decades and require major restructuring. However, in most cases the cost of renovation is relatively low, from 20,000 euros to 50,000 euros (US$22,630 to US$56,570) depending on the size of the house.
What You Need To Know About Italy
In the last few years, many towns and villages across Italy have offered houses for sale for 1 euro in an attempt to revive communities. Small Italian municipalities have no funds to maintain abandoned properties falling into a state of disrepair, so they are happy to find buyers for them.
Potential buyers, Italians or any other nationality, have to submit a form online and explain their plans for the property. In most cases, preferences are given to those who want to open a bed-and-breakfast, hotel, or artisan or other type of business that will benefit the community and attract visitors.
When all legal documents are signed, the new owner is required to submit the renovation project within 2 to 12 months (depending on the town), start work within 1 year, and complete it within the next 3.
However, do not assume that you will only be paying 1 euro. Legal fees for buying a house can add up to 3,000 euros. Some local authorities also require a guarantee fee to demonstrate that you are serious about your plans. This fee ranges from 1,000 euros to 10,000 euros depending on the town and the cost of the renovation project.
Using local builders is not always required, but an intent to do so would certainly make your application stand out. As all of these houses are located in historic parts of towns, you will have to follow regulations for restoring old buildings (e.g. using local materials, not altering the facade, etc.). After five years, you will be allowed to put your restored house up for sale on the private market.
Where To Find 1 Euro Houses
You can snap up a former Dominican monastery for 1 euro in the historic town of Modigliana, only 50 kms from Bologna. The property consists of three buildings and over an acre of land. The town authorities entrusted an estate agent to handle the sale, so English-speaking staff would be available to help you.
As the buyer, you will be required to present a renovation project to the town council within a year of the purchase date, and start the work within two. A further three years can be allowed to complete the restoration, and, if necessary, a further extension may be given. It is not a project for the faint-hearted but it is certainly a bargain, as historic properties like this one rarely come on the market for 1 euro.
The town of Modigliana is dominated by glorious ruins of an ancient castle and brims with character. It attracts many tourists, so converting the property into a boutique hotel or B&B could bring a steady income.
The picturesque hilltop town of Casoli has an imposing 11th-century castle, narrow cobbled streets, stunning views, and olive groves and vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. It is lively, with a population of over 5,000 people, many bars, restaurants, shops, and other amenities, but the town’s old historic center is full of abandoned, centuries-old houses that are slowly falling apart.
One house with a 1-euro price tag is an early 20th-century, 200-square-meter house with four floors. In the basement, you can still see fragments of the medieval wall that once surrounded the old town. Although the house hasn’t been lived in for decades, the roof was repaired a few years ago.
This town council put a point system in place for evaluating applications. The highest scores will be awarded to those who:
- Intend to finish the restoration quickly, within 6 to 12 months from the day of the purchase;
- Comply with the authority’s guidelines for restoring an old building in a historic center;
- Use local tradesmen;
- Become residents in Casoli.
The municipality also requires a guarantee fee of 5,000 euros if the restoration project’s costs amount to 50,000 euros, and 10,000 euros for projects exceeding that cost.
Zungoli is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and has plenty to offer. You’ll find bars, restaurants, two supermarkets, a butcher store, an artisanal ceramics studio, hotel, and several B&Bs. Naples and beautiful beaches are only a one-hour drive away.
The town comes complete with a local marquis family who live in the majestic castle that was constructed in the 11th century to protect the village from Byzantine invasions. Italian tourists flock to Zungoli for a quiet, rural escape, but foreign visitors are rare.
The houses on sale for 1 euro range from 50 to 100 square meters and can be bought separately or in blocks. Families, and buyers who plan to open hospitality businesses or artisanal activities, are given preference. You would have to start the renovation within three months from the day of the purchase and finish not later than three years after that.
The buyers are also obliged to pay 2,000 euros to the town council as a guarantee that you will go through with your project and observe the rules. According to the local council, old houses in town can request tax deductions, which vary from 50% to 85%, for improving energy ratings, anti-seismic structures, and other improvements.