The innovative real estate scheme offers cheap houses in Italy with prices starting from 9,000 euros.
We’ve all read the stories about the villages in Italy that want to sell you a house for a euro. But that’s the Instagram-versus-reality fantasy, since those homes are usually so decrepit that it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix them up. Now, a forward-thinking town in Italy is not only selling run-down houses for €1, the town is also trying to lure new residents with a creative offer than makes so much more sense: It is selling unoccupied houses that are turnkey-ready at bargain-basement prices. Think rates starting as low as €7,500 ($9,000) and going up to €13,000 ($15,778).
The town is Biccari and it is located in southeastern Italy in the attractive Puglia region. Set at the foot of Monte Cornacchia (which has a view from the peak of the nearby Adriatic Coast), Biccari is surrounded by rolling hills and forests, olive groves and a lake. It’s known for an unusual white pizza sprinkled with chili powder, extra-virgin olive oil made from trees planted by ancient Greek colonizers and a delicate Cacioricotta cheese that is made from goats that wander in the nearby fields. The closest major city is Rome, which is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive away. The town made news in 2019 when it announced plans to build a series of bubble rooms that would allow travelers to sleep under the stars; there are also charming little treehouses for rent.
The innovative new real estate scheme is the brainchild of the town’s mayor, Gianfilippo Mignogna, who wants to bring his hometown back to life. Back in the Middle Ages, Biccari was a flourishing place, and in the 1950s, the town’s population peaked at 5,000 residents. But over the years, the younger generation has left to find jobs in other, more populated locations (including the United States). Nowadays, barely 2,000 residents remain.
“Depopulation is an open wound, a steady phenomenon,” Mignogna told CNN. “Locals keep leaving and while most used to come back during the summer to visit, now they no longer do so. Many habitable houses are empty and are falling into oblivion.”
Mignogna says the idea hit him one day when he was wandering through Biccari’s old center and noticed how many cute homes in perfect shape had been shuttered for years with for-sale or for-rent signs. Right now, there are about 20 beautiful move-in-ready houses available, plus about a dozen €1 fixer-uppers, but there could be as many as 100 homes in need of new inhabitants.
Most of the turnkey houses are second homes owned by emigrant families who have maintained the properties but no longer use them. Some have views of the spectacularly beautiful surrounding hills. One downside is that they are small—measuring about 538 to 753 square feet—but for prices as low as $9,000 and the chance to live a dolce vita on the cheap, who is complaining? The €1 homes need a lot of work and are mostly set in the ancient town center, where there are also some more expensive houses available.
Source: The Forbes