Selling abandoned homes for crazy low prices is quickly becoming an Italian institution. Now, the town of Salemi in Sicily is the latest to experiment with this trend, auctioning off abandoned, dilapidated properties for just one euro (about $1.18). Following an earthquake in 1968, at least 4,000 residents left town, and the population of Salemi never quite recovered (around 11,000 people live there today). Domenico Venuti, the town’s mayor, hopes the initiative will help revitalize the town and contribute to population growth.
Venuti told CNN, “All buildings 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.”
The homes for sale date back to the 1600s, lie in the city’s historic center surrounded by ancient walls, and are built with sandstone extracted from the nearby caves. Most require significant repairs, though some are in relatively good shape. Selected houses will go up for auction at a starting price of one euro and be sold to the highest bidder. Potential buyers don’t have to be physically present in Salemi to make an offer but must send a detailed restyle plan to show they’re committed to renovating the property. One buyer can purchase multiple homes, but all buyers must pay a deposit of $3,545, which will be returned if the renovation is complete within three years.
Photographs of the houses will be available on the city council’s website once the project goes live.