Are Italian €1 homes a Good Deal

By on September 1, 2020
€1 homes

Italian homes on the market for less than the price of a coffee have been grabbing headlines for some time now. However, are there better deals available when the true associated costs are taken into account? €1 homes are a good deal. But, not the best deal.

When you dig down, there are better options. You’ll need to renovate or even rebuild your €1 home but your dollars actually stretch further buying a fully renovated home on the regular resale market. Sure, there’s something irresistible about a free giveaway. So it’s not very surprising to see the popularity of Italy’s “free” (or €1) home giveaway explode.

When I first heard the news that the town of Gangi in Sicily was giving away homes less than the price of an espresso drink, I hopped on a plane right away to check it out in person. In reality, there are much better deals in Italy than €1 homes. The average €1 homes turn out to be more like €30,000 homes once you are done with restoring them. The €1 homes are a good deal, but you can get more bang-for-your-buck if you skip the step of taking on all the renovations yourself.”

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Gangi, Italy

Gangi was the first Italian town to host one of these giveaways. To this day, it remains the most successful. Since then, there have been almost 30 more—not just in Italy’s less- affluent south, but in the north too. These towns have turned to such measures because their populations are dwindling. These are often beautiful, historic towns in stunning places, but no work for the younger families. The old town centers are crumbling, and in the interest of revitalizing them, they’re selling off buildings on the cheap, with the caveat that they must be renovated. (and in some cases lived in).

Cinquefrondi, Italy

Cinquefrondi, in the southern region of Calabria, is the latest to join the trend. It’s right at the toe of Italy’s “boot.” Located in the hills, it’s surrounded by the Aspromonte National Park and set between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian coasts with dreamy Italian beaches on both coasts, around a 15-minute drive in either direction.

All of Cinquefrondi’s €1 homes will require extensive renovation. The town’s mayor estimated between €10,000 and €20,000, but that’s coming from a connected local with an agenda. I’d estimate higher. I’d put the number at more like €25,000.

Instead, look for resales of bigger, more spacious, and high-end historic homes in those same towns. In Gangi, for example, I found three tiers of homes: low, mid, and high. The high-tier homes had bigger windows, high and ornate ceilings, and views to the valley. The low-tier were cramped and had odd shaped doors that I often had to bend down to get through. The €1 home typically falls into the “low” category. But I found great renovated mid-level homes for €30,000…and super high-end homes for around €100,000.

Rural Italy

Provincial Italy is a treasure trove of bargain properties. From rural villas to medieval homes in hilltop towns. For less than €100,000, sometimes even less than €50,000, there are stunning turnkey properties. And there’s no better time to start looking than now.

Italy’s economy has been fragile and debt-laden since the 2008 crisis. The toll of the COVID-19 crisis has exasperated any hope of recovery. Already high, unemployment has skyrocketed. Emigration and household consolidation (kids moving back in with parents and vice versa) will increase. This puts downward pressure on real estate prices, particularly in marginal areas of the country.€1 homes

Not far from Cinquefrondi—where we have the latest €1 home offer—I found a restored, three-story home on the market for just €35,000 ($39,412). Situated in Santa Domenica Talao’s old town, the two-bedroom house comes turnkey, with a cellar and a balcony with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Stromboli, an active volcano 75 miles south.

The village is small and traditional—famed for its medieval window and door arches—and its spectacular view of the Tyrrhenian coast from the main piazza. Stroll the ancient streets and you’ll meet friendly locals selling hand-woven baskets, olive oil, and local wine. And you’re just five miles from the beachside town of Scalea.

Increased Budget

Up your budget, but still staying under $100,000, and you can get something very special. In the center of the historic town of Lizzanello in Italy’s southeast, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 1,055-square-foot historic home is on the market for $94,530. Set around a typical Salento courtyard, the rooms have magnificent vaulted ceilings, beautifully restored, a perfect canvas to create your ideal bolthole.

Lizzanello is located less than four miles from the nearest beach and about 30 miles from Brindisi airport, which connects with 24 major European hubs. To be clear: I haven’t visited these particular properties in person, nor did I do any due diligence on them. I don’t recommend these as properties you can make money from. These are simply little pieces of paradise that you can own for a song.

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Are Italian €1 homes a Good Deal