Abandoned villages in Italy are selling old houses at a symbolic price of 1 euro to save them from becoming empty ghost towns. The 1-euro homes initiative is bringing together several small administrators in Italy in a bid to save abandoned Italian villages like Sambuca and Gangi in Sicily, and Montieri, in the province of Grosseto, Tuscany.
Here in Montieri the mayor, Nicola Verruzzi, decided to save his town by putting some dilapidated and abandoned buildings up for sale for 1 euro. There is only one condition to be met: the buyer must pay to restructure and renovate the 1-euro houses within three years, under penalty of restitution. Here’s what Mayor Verruzzi had to say about the houses for sale for 1 euro:
In Montieri, can people really buy houses for 1 euro?
“Let's say that the reference 1 euro price is a reference to something symbolic. It doesn't have to be 1 euro, but the guideline of the initiative – in which the municipality tries to act as a mediator between supply and demand – is to encourage individuals to sell their abandoned real estate for symbolic amounts, through a contract of sale in which the buyer is contractually committed to remodel the property within three years, under penalty of having to return it to the original owner.”
Which properties are affected?
“We have identified the properties listed by reference to a series of requirements. They are objectively abandoned and dilapidated houses, with falling fixtures, flaking plaster, problems with the roofing, and no connection to electricity and water services.”
Why launch such an initiative?
“Firstly because it’s a new form of intervention, launching a campaign of this kind that allows us to have an important media presence, making our territory known throughout Italy. Secondly, it allowed us to create a virtuous process between supply and demand. We are investing in the redevelopment of abandoned villages and in the revival of tourism, so it seems unfair that those who do not intend to live here and to maintain the buildings can leave ruins in our historic centres.”
So most of the property owners don’t live in Montieri?
“No, many of the owners are not residents. Maybe they are heirs of houses that belonged to their grandparents. Now, though, we’re sailing in choppy waters and people have no money to invest. The municipal administration has therefore decided to come out with an original initiative, which has a concrete basis and which will be carried out in a serious way.”
How can people buy a house in Italy for 1 euro?
“First of all, the municipality has done the filing of the buildings. A dialogue was then opened with the real estate agencies. When parties interested in buying call the municipal offices, their telephone numbers are taken and it is ensured that the owner and the potential buyer meet with the guarantee of the presence of the municipality. At that point, a possible negotiation of sale is initiated.”
Is this a road that can bear fruit?
“There is interest in the scheme. This shows that people would like to come and invest and live here. In Italy everyone would like to have a house and it often represents a luxury. Basically, this initiative combines the desire of those who want a new home with the redevelopment of historic town centres. I believe administrators in marginal, peripheral areas should have a little dose of madness, but also of fantasy, trying to imagine ways of doing things a little out of the ordinary.”