How would you like to own a house in an idyllic Sicilian village? You could have it for just one euro.
No kidding. It’s like the Godfather’s offer, one you’ll find hard to refuse, but without any Mafia-style threats.
That comes to around US$1.35 or HK$10.50, less than what you’d spend for a glass of iced lemon tea or just about what you’d pay for an MTR commute to the office. For the price of two cinema tickets and a bag of popcorn, you could buy a dozen.
The place is called Gangi, a medieval hilltop town set amid the rolling wheat fields and wooded valleys of central Sicily, according to The Telegraph. Indeed, it’s a locale that will remind you of one fond, familiar song: “Wine-colored days warmed by the sun, deep velvet nights when we are one…”
The local council wants to sell around 20 run-down houses which were abandoned by their original owners who had no money to renovate them. The village has a population of about 7,000.
There are some conditions attached to the deal, however. Buyers must pay a €5,000 guarantee to the Gangi council to ensure that they renovate the decrepit structures. They can redeem the money once the homes are restored.
Owners are given five years to bring their homes to habitable condition, which is estimated to cost around €35,000.
Aside from that, buyers will have to pay the costs for the legal transfer of the property to their names, which can run up to €6,000 per property, depending on its taxable value.
That’s not too bad, is it?
The council launched the garage sale of homes a couple of years ago, but since none of the officials could speak English, not too many people outside the village had heard of the deal. So they turned to Marie Wester, an English-speaking Swedish property consultant who lives in Sicily, for help.
Through a newsletter she sends out to clients, Wester was able to drum up interest for the properties.
“The people of Gangi want to attract foreigners to the town because they want to bring in new life,” Wester tells the newspaper.
For those who have watched too many gangster movies, the Sicilian village may bring up thoughts of the Cosa Nostra. But Wester says foreign buyers need not fear.
“The Mafia exists, of course, but they are operating at a different level — they are interested in multimillion-euro construction projects, not restorations like this,” she says. “Some people think that if you come here you’ll see them walking down the street with guns, but it’s not like that.”
Since Wester got involved in the sale, there has been enormous interest in the properties. “I think it’s a good deal,” she says.
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