Struggling towns in Italy are selling off abandoned homes at bargain prices in a bid to reverse a trend of depopulation. The picturesque town of Salemi in Sicily is the latest to offer up dilapidated properties for less than the cost of an espresso.
A few crumbling dwellings and old buildings will go up for auction with a starting price of just €1 (about R19) over the next month, which according to the town’s mayor, Domenico Venuti, will hopefully breathe new life into Salemi. The dilapidated homes will be sold be for next to nothing on the condition that buyers renovate the properties, CNN reports.
Town of Salemi in Sicily ready for ‘next step’
More than 4 000 residents fled the tiny town after a devastating earthquake in 1968 rocked Sicily’s Belice Valley and Salemi has been half-empty ever since.
The town’s mayor, Domenico Venuti, says all the buildings up to for auction belong to the city council, which speeds up the sale and reduces red tape.
“Before launching the scheme we first had to recover the old parts of Salemi where the houses are located, upgrading infrastructures and services from roads to electric grids and sewage pipes. Now the town is ready for the next step.”
Similar schemes launched across Italy
Similar schemes have been introduced in several Italian hamlets, among them Cinquefrondi, a community in the southern region of Calabria, and Mussomeli, also in Sicily. Salemi carried out thorough maintenance works to secure the risky crumbly areas in the town before offering the buildings up for auction.
Several selected houses will go up for auction with the €1 starting price and will be sold to the highest bidder. The same method was used by the Sicilian town of Sambuca, where dwellings were sold to the highest bidder and at least one buyer purchased a house sight unseen.
Venuti says that potential buyers aren’t required to visit Salemi to inspect the homes before making an offer, but they will need to send a detailed restyle plan to demonstrate their commitment to the project.
Interested buyers can view photographs of the available properties, as well as maps showing their whereabouts. They can then download application forms on the city council’s institutional website once the project goes live.
A single buyer can purchase more than one house, but all buyers must pay a deposit guarantee of €3 000 (about R57 000), which is to be returned if the restyle is completed within three years.
If buyers miss out on the first lot, Venuti says there are at least another 100 dwellings in the town that could potentially be sold in a second lot.
Find out more about the homes due to be auctioned off in Salemi here.