Italy’s one euro houses: Is this for real? How does it work?

Italy has garnered attention for selling off vacant houses for as little as €1, aiming to revitalize abandoned villages and stimulate local economies. With young Italians migrating to cities and leaving behind rural areas, many picturesque towns are facing depopulation. Some elderly residents have no heirs and bequeath their homes to local authorities, who then decide to sell them at nominal prices rather than letting them decay. Around 25 municipalities are participating in this initiative, offering homes for €1 to prospective buyers.

The scheme aims to attract new homeowners who will contribute to the local economy by purchasing local goods, hiring local workers for renovations, and potentially boosting tourism by converting properties into boutique hotels or bed and breakfasts. However, buyers should be aware that the houses offered usually require significant renovations and may not be ready for immediate occupancy. Renovation costs typically range from €20,000 to €50,000, and additional expenses such as legal fees and guarantee deposits apply.

Buyers must commit to renovating the property within a specified timeframe and adhere to certain regulations, which vary depending on the town. While the initial purchase price may be €1, some houses have been sold for higher amounts due to bidding wars. Prospective buyers must also meet financial requirements, provide renovation plans, and demonstrate their ability to complete the project within the stipulated timeframe.

Non-EU residents can purchase these properties as “non-residents,” but they are subject to higher taxes and residency restrictions. To apply for Italian residency, individuals must prove they can support themselves financially without employment in Italy.

Interested buyers can find listings on various websites and local government portals. Viewing properties in person is recommended to assess their condition accurately. Several regions in Italy, including Emilia-Romagna, Abruzzo, Campania, Sicily, Piedmont, Le Marche, Liguria, Puglia, and Sardinia, are participating in the €1 house scheme, offering opportunities for those seeking affordable homeownership in Italy.

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