- Sambuca, Sicily, has successfully sold a series of abandoned homes after starting auctions at €1 ($1.12).
- Press coverage of the picturesque town’s bargain home sale created an influx of interest from foreign buyers after it was announced earlier in the year.
- According to The Guardian, 16 properties were sold by the municipality at prices averaging between €5,000 and €10,000 ($5,620-$11,230).
- A further 50 houses have been sold privately to foreign buyers.
- There was a catch, obviously – the properties were in dire need of renovation, and buyers had to commit to spending at least €15,000 ($17,200) on improvements within three years of purchase.
- Sambuca is just one of an increasing number of rural, Italian towns opting to auction off homes for as little as $1 in a bid to encourage repopulation.
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Paradise lost? Not if the town mayor has anything to say about it.
Earlier this year, the picturesque Sicilian town of Sambuca announced that it would be auctioning off abandoned homes for as little as 1 euro ($1.12) in a desperate bid to save the rapidly depopulating community.
Naturally, there was a catch.
The properties, which ranged from 40 square meters to 150 square meters (430 square feet to 1,600 square feet), were in dire need of renovation, and buyers had to commit to spending at least €15,000 (about $17,200) on improvements within three years of purchase.
Fortunately, this seemed like a small price to pay for the foreigners who flocked to Palermo this week for the auction of the first 16 houses owned by the municipality.
According to The Guardian’s Italy correspondent Lorenzo Tondo, the cheapest property was sold for €1,000 ($1,120), the most expensive went for €25,000 ($28,080), and the rest averaged between €5,000 and €10,000 ($5,620-$11,230).
Cacioppo added that a further 50 houses had been sold privately to foreign buyers.
“Between private homes and houses owned by the municipality, we have received investments totalling €1 million [$1.2 million]. It is a real treasure for a small city like ours,” the deputy mayor told Tondo.
One of the homes was even purchased by the Discovery Channel, who intend to document renovations on the property and life in Sambuca. The show will be presented by the actor Lorraine Bracco.
Cacioppo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the influx of foreign investment was “an invasion – but a positive one!”
Nicknamed “The City of Splendor,” Sambuca boasts an enviable vicinity to the coast, stunning views of Mt Etna, wine-producing vineyards, and a rich Greek, and Arabic, history.
Sambuca isn’t the first or last commune in Italy to encourage repopulation this way as residents continue to move to urban areas.
In January 2018, the Sardinian town of Ollolai announced that it was selling 200 houses for €1 to attract new residents.
Locana, in northern Italy, went a step further and actually offered to pay people €9,000 ($10,200) to move there – as long as they had a child and a salary.
Most recently, Zungoli in the Campania region, and Mussomeli, in Sicily, also announced they would be selling homes for just $1 – as long as residents committed to refurbishing their properties.
If Sambuca’s success is anything to go by, Italy’s rural housing sale could be a model for the rest of the world to follow.