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‘We’re Covid-free’: Remote Italian village aims to tempt buyers with one-euro homes offer

The latest in a long list of depopulated Italian towns offering houses for sale for a just a euro also claims that new residents won't need to worry about infection.

'We're Covid-free': Remote Italian village aims to tempt buyers with one-euro homes offer
The town of Cinquefrondi in southern Calabria has had no Covid-19 cases, the town's mayor says. Photo: Comune di Cinquefrondi

As tourism gradually restarts in Italy, many of the country's depopulated towns are once again looking to sell off their dilapidated houses to foreigners for the price of an espresso.

With most of these towns being in remote areas, they have often also escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic – and the mayor of one small town in Calabria says that's exactly why people should choose to buy a house there.

A well as the scenery and local history, Michele Conia, mayor of Cinquefrondi in Calabria, pointed to the area's lack of confirmed Covid-19 cases as a reason for buyers to consider his one-euro house scheme.

READ ALSO: These are all the Italian towns offering houses for one euro

The rural southern region of Calabria as a whole was one of the regions least affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, with a relatively low count of 1,177 confirmed cases. 

Far from the tourist trail, Cinquefrondi is in a mountainous area between Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria in the very south of the country, on the toe of Italy's boot.

Screenshot: Google Maps

Like the many other towns making such an offer, Cinquefrondi has suffered from depopulation as younger generations have left in search of work. Italy currently has 5,800 villages with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants each, all at risk of becoming ghost towns.

As well as bringing new life to the town, mayor Conio hopes investors will beautify the currently crumbling parts of the historic town.

Photo: Comune di Cinquefrondi

Of course, the real cost of buying such houses is far higher than the symbolic one euro sale price.
 
While other towns selling one-euro homes require a deposit of up to €5,000 ($5,635) – which the buyer forfeits if they fail to renovate the house within three years – Cinquefrondi authorities instead request an annual €250 policy insurance fee until works are completed.
 
However, new owners are liable to be fined €20,000 if they do not complete the work within three years. 
 
“We're just asking for some kind of certainty once a new buyer commits to the project. The fee is very low and the cost of a restyle here is within €10,000 to €20,000, given the dwellings are cozy [and] tiny,” Conia told CNN.
 
The available houses are around 40-50 square metres in size.
 
READ ALSO: 
There are around a dozen old houses currently on the market for one euro, which once belonged to farmers and shepherds. Conia says up to fifty could be made available if demand is high enough.
 
“If we receive a huge demand, I can expropriate all other buildings which have been empty for decades and the old owners are nowhere to be found.”
 
And he claims that the town has already been inundated with enquiries from far and wide.
 
“We believed in it from the beginning, and soon our abandoned houses will be inhabited by many tourists,” Conia wrote on the town's Facebook page on Thursday. “Just today, hundreds of requests have arrived from those who see Cinquefrondi as a strategic place to live.”
 
Anyone interested in the offer can find out more on the town's official website or send an email to: [email protected]
 

 

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PROPERTY

Can you still buy Italy’s one-euro homes in 2024?

A lot has changed since Italy's 'one-euro' home offers first made international headlines, so are they still available - or worth considering?

Can you still buy Italy’s one-euro homes in 2024?

The prospect of buying a house in Italy for less than the price of a caffè normale at the local bar caused a sensation back in 2019, when news of one-euro home schemes hit the international headlines.

There was a property stampede in Sicilian towns in particular, with local mayors reporting being overwhelmed with enquiries in English and other languages.

MAP: Where in Italy can you buy homes for one euro?

Even sceptics couldn’t contain their curiosity: Was it a joke? What condition were these houses in? And how much was this really going to cost?

Several years later, we know that these schemes are legitimate attempts to breathe new life into depopulated areas and unburden local authorities of old, unwanted properties that would otherwise be left to fall apart. And in some cases, at least, it has worked – and proved very lucrative for the towns involved.

We know most of these houses are in a very poor state of repair, requiring major investments from their new owners. And we know the costs can be high, with reports of some international buyers spending hundreds of thousands of euros on renovations – many times more than the property’s potential market value.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about Italy’s one-euro homes

But we’ve also heard from some readers who tell us that, while these homes do of course cost more than one euro, for a sensible buyer they can be a worthwhile investment.

Not only are Italy’s one-euro home offers still going strong in 2024, but new towns are joining the scheme, while others continue to announce similar ‘cheap home’ projects such as the rental programme in Ollolai, Sardinia aimed at remote workers – one scheme that’s expected to take off following the introduction of Italy’s new digital nomad visa in 2024.

So what do you need to know if you’re curious about these Italian property bargains?

As ever, if you’re interested in buying a one-euro home you’ll need to meet certain requirements which vary depending on the local authority. After all, this is not a nationwide scheme but a series of small initiatives run by local councils in each town or village, so you’ll need to carefully check the terms and conditions of every offer you consider.

Generally though, the following will apply:

  • Foreign nationals can buy one-euro houses, whether they’re EU or non-EU citizens – but remember owning one will not give you any residency rights in Italy, and visa rules will still apply to non-EU nationals.
  • The prospective buyer can’t just make vague promises about doing the place up: you’ll need to present a renovation plan within 2, 3 or 6 months depending on the village.
  • Buying a one-euro home to turn into a tourist rental business is generally allowed, but you’ll need to let the local authority know your plans when you apply.
  • The cost of the house, all renovation costs, and all notary, legal, transfer and other fees are the responsibility of the buyer.

Some things have however changed in the past few years which make buying and renovating a one-euro home less affordable than it once was.

Many buyers in recent years were further tempted by generous state subsidies available to cover the cost of renovation work – most famously the ‘superbonus 110’ which covered up to 110 per cent of qualifying expenditures.

READ ALSO: What taxes do you need to pay if you own a second home in Italy?

Though the superbonus is now winding down and is no longer open to new applications, it has had a knock-on effect which means renovations in Italy generally take longer and cost more than they used to.

The superbonus scheme’s enormous popularity led to an ongoing shortage of building contractors in Italy, who were booked up months, or even years, in advance.

And as the popularity of these offers has exploded, the most viable properties in some areas now often become the subject of a bidding war, with the sale price rising from one euro to tens of thousands.

Find a map of the towns currently offering one-euro homes in Italy here.

Have you bought a property through a one-euro home scheme in Italy? We’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch by email or in the comments section below to let us know about your experience.

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