Everyone I know tells me I should buy a 1 euro house in Italy. Buying a house through the 1 Euro Houses in Italy Project is easy, right? Find a house. Pay 1 euro. Move in. It sounds almost too good to be true.
In reality, there is a lot involved in buying a house in Italy, or any foreign county. Most of the available 1 euro homes are not in the best shape right now, so renovations are necessary. Luckily, many of the towns have someone to help buyers through the process.
In San Piero Patti, a small Sicilian town east of Palermo and west of Messina, there are many 1 euro homes available. Consuelo Damico, works for the comune to help outsiders buy homes there. We asked her to answer a few of our questions.
How many 1 Euro Houses are available in San Piero?
The number of homes available in the 1 Euro Houses Project. The number changes based on sales and registrations of new proposals. At the moment, we have about 15 properties ready to be sold.
Are there other reasonably priced houses there that foreigners can buy?
The 1 Euro Houses are often very old and abandoned, so they need major renovations, but the price of houses in San Piero Patti is still very affordable compared to the cities. You can easily find houses with low prices and that need only small renovations. We are around €10,000-15,000. There are practically new houses that just need a refresh that are around €50,000. It really depends on the size and the construction area. I personally deal only with the 1 Euro Houses Project. For the purchase of houses outside the Project, I collaborate with a real estate agency in the village, or I contact private sellers directly.
What is the approximate out-of-pocket cost to start the contract and what does it include? For example, what are survey and architecture fees etc.
The 1 Euro Houses Project was created to redevelop and repopulate some of the historic districts, for example the Arabite District, a small model of Arab urban planning. Small streets and alleys that climb up the entire front of the hill up to where the Castle of San Piero once stood. As per Arab tradition, the houses are arranged on the side of the hill overlooking the hinterland offering breathtaking landscapes and being facing south it is possible to enjoy the sun throughout the day.
The peripheral areas in Italy, but above all in Southern Italy, have suffered a strong depopulation in recent years. Many people have left for the north or for the big cities in search of fortune. Our goal is to incentivize the buyer by reducing purchase costs. With us, the house really costs €1. It’s a symbolic price. We don’t do auctions or the like. The cost of the house is €1.
After choosing the property, the deed of purchase must be stipulated with a notary within two months. The expenses for the deed of transfer (notary, land register, transfer, etc.) are obviously borne by the buyer and are related and calculated on the basis of the house to be purchased.
Is there usually a deadline to complete the house? What if there are construction delays?
The only constraint of the Project is the renovation of the building. The renovation project will be presented within a maximum of one year from the purchase. Once the authorizations have been obtained, the recovery work must begin within two months and will be completed within a maximum of three years. A surety clause for the amount of €5,000 will be stipulated with the Municipality of San Piero Patti, which is valid for five years as a guarantee of the concrete completion of the works. This will be fully returned upon completion of the renovation on schedule. In the event of default, the Municipality will retain the deposit.
Can the buyer use his own real estate agent, architect, contractor, etc?
The buyer can make use of his own notary, surveyor, architect, etc., or I can provide various names.
Who is available to help the buyer with the process if they don’t speak English?
We don’t have a translator, and nobody speaks English in the town hall. I, together with my imperfect English, follow and help buyers in the various processes of choice, purchase, etc. It happened that a lady who in the past worked as a translator helped me, but she is not always available in the village. For now, however, everything has always gone very well.
We have had Greek, Czech, Danish, Qatari, Argentinian, and other buyers go through the process without any problems. Furthermore, the Italian State requires by law a complete translation of the contract into English so that the buyer is protected in his own language. Before we started the project, I personally helped a distant relative of mine from Tucson to buy a house here in the historic center. Now she has been coming here every summer for a few years now. She’s currently waiting for her husband’s retirement to be able to move permanently.
How much work can be done while the buyer is out of the country, and who supervises it?
It depends on how the buyer wants to move. We had those who came every five-six months to personally check the works when there were major renovations. Others stayed here for a few months if there was just a little work to be done. There was a buyer who sent his company to do the work, and he interfaced directly with the site manager. Other people have videos/photos of the progress of the work sent by the companies in charge.
What is the approximate number of visits recommended to the buyer between purchase and completion?
It depends. I recommend at least three visits—the first to view and choose the preferred property and in the case of interest, carry out the entire first part of the documentation; the second to begin the renovations; and the third to agree on final adjustments and finishes (paints , flooring, bathroom fixtures, furniture, etc.). There have also been buyers who only came once and then moved in Other buyers rent houses to personally follow all phases from purchase to renovation.
What does the buyer get after the job is done, such as the title?
The buyer can decide, if needed, to take up residence in the Municipality of San Piero Patti, only if he belongs to one of the European countries.
If the buyer wishes to move to San Piero permanently or for at least three years, thus living consecutively for at least three years in the purchased property, there is a bonus of €5,000 to be used for the renovation.
What are the ownership conditions? For example, the property can be used as a vacation home, remote corporate office; or are there any restrictions on how and when it can be put up for sale?
The house can be used as a main house, a vacation home, an office, etc. It can be resold, but the only requirement is the completion of the renovation…therefore the closure of the guarantee stipulated with the Municipality.
Tell us about the city. (a) There is wi-fi; (b) access to public transport or trains to reach larger cities; (c) is easily accessible by car, etc.
San Piero Patti is a small hill town, quiet and with no traffic, in an excellent position because it is close to everything. About 15 minutes away, there is the sea and Patti Marina with its very long beaches (for the most part free). Mt. Etna is 45 minutes away. Messina is one hour away. Catania airport 90 minutes, and Palermo airport two hours. The train station of Patti is 20 minutes by car from San Piero. We advise having a car, but there are local public transport buses. Unfortunately, they run very few times. Unfortunately, the poor connections with public transport are a problem in all small towns. There is public wifi (fiber internet), and almost the whole town is covered.
Our readers are searching for “authentic Italy”: describe the beauty of San Piero Patti and why someone would want to live there.
I can answer in an “authentic” way. I chose to come and live here after being born and having lived 35 years in Milan.
San Piero is that place that you see in videos and advertisements that speak of Sicilian tradition. Children play in the streets and alleys without any fear. It’s where you find the elderly ladies sitting on their chairs outside the front door talking to each other or embroidering…who always greet you when you pass, ask how you are, and offer you coffee. It is where, when you meet the farmer, he gives you fresh eggs or freshly picked fruit or vegetables because leaving you without leaving anything as a gift “is a sin.”
Always the same, but always different.
Everywhere I look everything is always in bloom, all green, always, 12 months a year. Passing from a city to this view makes you wonder every day, even now after many years. If you look north the hills open up, and you can see the sea…you can see the Aeolian Islands. It is a show that is always the same but always different, 365 days a year. Here the air is always very clean, there is no smog and there are no big companies that pollute. It is a wonderful place to raise children.
Sicilian cuisine is now famous all over the world. Here, all the products found in the shops in the village come from our countryside. Everything—the meat from the butchers comes from the local pastures; the animals are free on our hills. We know what we eat unlike when in the city I had to buy supplies from large retailers. Here in a hamlet of San Piero, five minutes from the centre, we also have one of the best trattorias in Sicily, Trattoria da Luciana. It is the winner of many awards including the Slow Food Award. For people like me who love food, this is one of the places we go every two-three months because the menu changes continuously according to the seasons and the ingredients of that period. Around the town, there are many paths and mule tracks for walking while remaining completely immersed in nature.
What do citizens think of foreigners and of this project?
Citizens welcomed the project positively especially after seeing how many benefits it brings to the country. The repopulation of any inhabited center brings tangible benefits in terms of economy and work. A buyer is opening his own working company here in San Piero. Other purchasing families, finding themselves welcomed, have brought other contacts who are buying houses. We only see benefits from this important project.
How long do you expect the 1 Euro Houses or cheap houses to be available?
I expect this project to go on for quite some time. There are really many properties to be allocated to this project. The bureaucracy is a bit slow, but we plan to continue working to always have new availability as it has been up to now. If I can make an estimate, in my opinion, we have sold less than half the houses! It is also my hope.
Most importantly, what is the contact information. Ideally, we’d like a telephone number, email address, physical (office) address; website.
As answered above, I am the only contact who speaks some English. My telephone number is +393355355015. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my name is Consuelo Damico.