Have you ever heard about houses for sale in Sicily for 1 euro? I think you have, but the matter is not as you want it to be. It is fully different. As a Sicilian who knows well her homeland, I followed carefully the history about Sicily houses for 1 euro. Can you really buy a house in Sicily and in Italy for 1 euro? The reply is in this article. Follow the subsequent paragraphs and you’ll discover all the truth about the houses for sale in Sicily for 1 euro.
Sicily houses for one euro. What are they?
The history of the houses for sale in Sicily for one euro is very long. The initiative was launched for the first time, in 2010, in my island, to repopulate and revitalize tourism in depopulated Sicilian villages. The first town that promoted this kind of real estate sale was Salemi (see the image), a small village in the province of Trapani. The mayor in charge of the municipality of Salemi was, at the time, art expert Vittorio Sgarbi, who decided to put several abandoned homes up for sale, for 1 euro, in order to rebuild the historical downtown of the village. Unfortunately, the initiative, called houses for one euro, failed because the homes were too ancient and ruined and risked to collapse. The project was hence abandoned and the mayor resigned. Since then, the project to put ruined homes for sale for one euro continued in other villages in Sicily and Italy. Among those ones, Gangi and Sambuca were the most relevant Sicilian villages which joined the initiative.
From Sicily, the idea to sell houses for one euro spread to other municipalities in Italy with the purpose to attract foreigners in villages which suffered a severe depopulation over the past decades. Indeed, foreigners went massively to visit the small Italian villages where were the houses for sale for 1 euro. The most interested were British and German people. Nowadays, those who want to buy property in Sicily and Italy for one euro come from all over the world. Some of them bought the homes, but, finally, they spent more than 1 Euro. That was, as a matter of fact, the symbolic price of an auction, where potential buyers made bids to buy old and uninhabited houses in the village that put them for sale.
Houses for one euro. Can you really buy them?
As said above, the initiative of the houses for sale in Sicily for one euro includes an auction launched through a public announcement. In the announcement, the municipality indicates: the date of the auction, the number and the description of the houses for sale and the sale price. The auction starts with the initial sale price of 1euro. Those who want to win the auction in order to buy the property must do an offer that must be higher than 1 euro. Usually, the offers start from 3,000 Euros. Remember that the properties for sale for one euro are ruined houses that need strong renovation (see the image). In Sambuca, for instance, for the purchase, you must also pay a deposit of 5,000 Euros and take the commitment to renovate the property. The deposit will be refunded as soon as you renovated the house.
Hence, if you want to be sure to win the auction, you should offer 10,000 Euros at least, which, with the addition of the deposit of 5,000 Euros, become 15,000 Euros. Even though the deposit will be refunded to you, you should spend further 15,000 or even 30,000 Euros to renovate a house severely ruined! If the house needs to be razed to the ground and rebuilt from scratch, keep in mind that you could also spend 100,000 Euros! And what’s about the cost to go to these Sicilian villages and attend the auction? Let’s consider further 3,000 Euros for travel and accommodation…
Hence, you can buy a home in Sicily, but not for 1 euro! Furthermore, the houses for sale in Sicily for 1 Euro are not for social housing, but to boost tourism in small villages which, otherwise, would have remained uninhabited. Older Sicilian houses can be turned into hotels and B&B, for instance, or into holiday home, to visit Sicily or other picturesque villages in Italy in your lifetime. The list of the towns selling houses for 1 euro changes often, because new villages every day join the initiative of houses for 1 Euro. But, what are these towns? Read the following paragraph to find the answer.
Towns in Sicily that sell houses for 1 euro.
The town that, currently, is selling houses in Sicily is Mussomeli (see the image). I have already mentioned Salemi, Gangi and Sambuca. In the first municipality, namely Salemi, the project failed, while in Gangi, the ancient houses for sale for one euro went sold out! The new owners must now present a renovation plan within six months or two years from the purchase. In Sambuca, the latest auction closed in April 2019. The other Sicilian town that joined the project of 1 euro houses is just the above mentioned village of Mussomeli, a municipality in the province of Caltanissetta.
This place is quite calm and less bustled than the other Sicily’s provinces. In addition to that, Mussomeli is only a few kms away from the charming beaches and the temples of Agrigento and lies on the natural environment of Platani River (see the image), surrounded by hills and the mesmerizing silence of the Sicilian evenings. There are other towns in Italy which are selling houses for 1 euro. You can find the most recent and current list on the website catered to the project of the houses for one euro: case1euro.it. However, before considering the purchase, you should also get information about how foreigners can buy property in Italy. Read the paragraph below to find this information.
Can foreigners buy property in Sicily and Italy?
For foreigners, it is not so easy buying property in Italy and Sicily. There are strict requirements to buy property in my Country. If you don’t live in Italy, the purchase can be a bit tricky. Foreigners who don’t live in Europe can buy property in Sicily and Italy only if their Country has an international agreement with Italy. Check if your country in the list of the international agreements with Italy on Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you country is on the list, yes, you can buy property in my loved Sicily, also, but you must always get the Italian tax code. Instead, if you are a foreigner staying in Italy for less than three years, in addition to the tax code, you must also have a Visa.
No problem instead, for foreigners who have been living in Italy since ten years and for those who coming from the European Union or from the SEE, namely: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway.
These foreigners can easily purchase a property in Italy as if they were Italians.
Before buying property in Sicily, you must also consider another side: property taxes. And here, we have a further room for another ultimate paragraph.
How much are property taxes in Italy?
Even though you will be succeeded with the auction to buy houses for sale in Sicily and Italy for 1 euro, you will have to pay property taxes. How much they are? In Italy, property taxes include two different categories of taxes:
- Taxes for the notarial deed of property transfer.
- Taxes for property ownership.
The taxes you must pay for property ownership are the so called IMU and Tasi. Imu is the Italian municipal tax; the rate is always applied by the municipality where you bought the property. In a small municipality in Sicily, in the province of Catania, for example, for 100 square meters, you pay about 250 Euros per year. Tasi is the junk tax. The rate is always applied by the municipality where you bought the property and depends on the size of the same property. You can pay 200 or 500 Euros per year. It is not possible to set a rate in advance, because as said, it is applied by the municipality where the house is. Fortunately, Imu and Tasi are never paid together. If you reside in the house, you’ll pay Tasi (along with electricity and water bills), if you don’t reside in the house, you’ll pay Imu.
About the taxes for the notarial deed of property transfer, you’ll pay a flat rate of 200 Euros if you buy the house from a company; the 9% on the value of the house, if you buy the house from a private seller; the 2% on the value of the house, if you buy your first house in Italy from a private seller. Keep in mind that the house you’ll buy in Sicily will always be your first home even though you have another property in your Country. However, to enjoy the benefit to reduce this tax, you must be committed to transfer the residence to the house you bought, within 18 months from the purchase; otherwise, Italy will claim the remaining percent you saved during the notarial deed.
As you can see, the myth of houses for sale in Sicily for 1 euro is attractive, but it is always a myth. Maybe you chased the depth desire of a house in Sicily to retrace your ancient Sicilian roots. To avoid troubles, I suggest that you look at cheap properties for sale from Sicilian private sellers. Usually, these houses don’t need renovation like the one for 1 Euro. The best solution would be the one to try a long term rental house, to see how you feel living in Sicily.
At the end, I hope this information will be helpful to you. For questions or opinions about this post, feel free to leave your comment or share the information you found, with your friends. Your interest will be greatly appreciated.
Photocredits in order of appearance:
Giampaolo Macorig Flickr
Mimmo Todaro Flickr
Bryan Keith Flickr
Carlo Columba Flickr
Michele Ursino Flickr