(CNN) — Buying a cheap home in Italy is an attractive prospect for many travellers, especially with the growing number of cities offering homes for next to nothing thanks to stimulus packages.
While some were brave enough to take the plunge and buy a house for between one and a few thousand euros in a rural Italian town, others were probably put off by the fear that something was wrong.
But are there any red flags that potential buyers should pay attention to when considering buying a home of this type? And how do you know if you’re walking on unreliable ground?
When it comes to offering valuable advice and tips on this particular subject, no one is better prepared than those who have already done so.
In January, the Italian town of Biccari made headlines when it began selling both dilapidated one-euro homes and ready-to-occupy homes in need of minimal repairs, the latter being the most successful.
Mayor Gianfilippo Mignogna chose to donate the houses in an attempt to revive the battered town, whose population has shrunk over the years as many residents have left to seek work in Italian towns or abroad.
Below, three of those who have purchased or helped to purchase one of the turnkey homes share their experiences.
Mariano Russo, an Argentinian of Italian descent, bought a comfortable 55 square meter two-storey house in Biccari for 7,000 euros (about $7,800).
Russo’s house was renovated when it was sold, even the walls were freshly painted, and it has a panoramic terrace, while the entrance is located in a picturesque alley in the historic center of the city. In addition to the purchase price, the notary for the deed of purchase cost him an additional 3,000 euros (US$3,400).
“It’s already habitable. Spolo needs to modernize the running water and heating system, and maybe repair some parts of the floor,” says Russo, director of Argentina Per Il Mondo, an organization that brings together Italian-Argentines of the whole world. .
“The structure is solid, although it is an old house, there is no mold on the walls and the ceiling is in perfect condition.”
According to Russo, the purchasing process went very well thanks to the support of the local surveyor in charge of the project.
“It’s essential to have someone to guide you along the way, we were lucky to have this agent,” says Russo, who plans to live in Biccari with his wife and two daughters for a large part. of the year.
“He prepared the papers for us and helped us pay the property taxes. He made sure the house was free of any previous debts, which you don’t want to know after buying it.”
Russo, however, almost found himself trapped in the labyrinthine nightmare that others have found themselves in when buying multi-owner Italian property.
This house had two owners, sisters who lived in different towns. The two had to agree first on the sale, then on the final price.
Luckily, the sisters were on good terms and things turned out well. But it’s not always like that.
According to Italian law, even if a property has 1,000 different owners, each must agree to the sale, otherwise it cannot take place. And let’s say that in Italy there are quite a few quarrelsome parents.
Therefore, buyers, with the help of the forum, must avoid the risk of an unknown heir appearing out of nowhere to claim the property sold.
Russo points out that it’s also important to make sure there’s no current mortgage on the property and that any minor repairs or renovations done by the previous owners have legal permission and the cost has been paid. Otherwise, the new owner will have to fix it or face legal consequences.
Buyers should also be aware of any third party damage that may have been caused by the previous owners of the home before signing the deed of purchase.
For example, if a damaged water main flooded a neighbor’s kitchen, or if a fallen roof cracked a building adjacent to the property.
Even earlier renovations could be problematic if not properly approved or authorized after the fact through the so-called building amnesty.
“One of the sisters couldn’t be there on the day of the deed, so she delegated the other to sign on her behalf,” Russo explains.
“We made sure everything was fine with the sale. The sisters had remodeled the house in the past, knocked down a wall to join two rooms, but the building amnesty was settled.”
“It all needs to be on paper, before the sale. Nobody wants last-minute issues.”
If this revision has not been communicated to the forum, which is a legal obligation, the new buyer could find himself in a situation where the act of purchase, and the sale, are cancelled.
The right broker
Finding an effective agent was a key factor for Rolf Bauer, a retired engineer from Germany, when choosing a Biccari bargain house.
“I like the atmosphere of the village, I think fate sent me here. This summer I went to Puglia to choose a house and this was the first village where I stopped. It was perfect”, says Bauer, who paid 30,000 euros 34,000) for his renovated house.
“I immediately found the surveyor’s office, which was great. Having the right person to help you choose the right home for you is very important.”
Bauer chose to buy in Puglia rather than Sicily, where houses sell for one euro in several towns.
“Sicily is too far south, and I never wanted a one-euro house,” he explains. “It takes too much work.”
Bauer, who owns other properties in Europe, said the agent’s fee – less than 500 euros ($560) – was much lower than what he had to pay in other countries.
Having chosen Biccari for his residence, Bauer does not have to pay property taxes, which is another advantage.
“I realized that you have to do something with money, use it to relax and enjoy life,” he says. “I am a house collector, and in Biccari I found a warm place where I can live for several months of the year. I hate the cold, here I probably don’t even need to turn on the heating.”
Their 150 square meter house is spread over three floors, with panoramic views, and features vaulted ceilings, an open kitchen, a large wine cellar and a stone staircase leading to the main entrance.
Bauer did some of the minor work himself, such as installing new porcelain, upgrading the electrical system, and installing a new shower head. He plans to convert the upstairs bedroom into a porch.
Unlike most buyers, Bauer didn’t buy furniture, appliances, or even light bulbs. Instead, he shipped them from countries like Germany, where he says the prices, and sometimes the quality, can be better.
“It depends on what you want, and if you have contacts with suppliers elsewhere like me. It’s always good to take a look and compare,” he says.
Bauer, who is an avid squash player, has been living in his new home in Biccari for two months and is thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Although the language has been something of a barrier as Bauer does not speak Italian, he has so far turned to translation apps, finding that locals often make an effort to try to understand if they are interested in speak with him.
The process of buying a cheap house in Biccari was a little more complicated for Aksana Klimavets, a Russian interpreter living in Italy who helped a Moscow businesswoman buy an old house here for 15,000 euros (about $16,800).
Tucked away down a narrow cobbled lane, the three-story house was completely renovated at the time of the sale, with freshly painted white vaulted ceilings, marble staircases and a panoramic terrace overlooking a small square; the previous owners even left behind a forgotten stroller.
But, according to Klimavets, finding an available notary to witness the signatures on the deed was incredibly difficult, and the sale process took several months.
“When we managed to find a notary, they told us that we had to transfer the money just before the deed, which is impossible given the strict Russian rules on international payments which take several days,” he explains. -he. “The bank has to verify and authorize, and that delayed the sale.”
To speed up the process, Klimavets’ client decided to transfer the money to the notary well before the postponed meeting to sign the agreement, which meant buying the house without seeing it.
Once this was agreed, the client flew from Moscow to sign the deed and discovered that the notary had the wrong address.
“Luckily we double-checked, otherwise we would have ended up buying someone else’s property,” adds Klimavets.
When she and the buyer met with the owners, they discovered that the house not only had five heirs, but had been inherited multiple times.
“This house has a very long history, during the deed of sale, the notary read us the list of the former owners and now we are in contact with an heir to transfer the invoices”, he explains.
After overcoming this obstacle, the new owner had to go through the process of opening a bank account in Italy, which can be particularly difficult for those coming from Russia, before she could pay bills or enjoy her retirement. vacation.
But despite these difficulties, Klimavets says his client fell in love with Biccari’s clean streets and pristine surroundings.
“For Russians, Puglia is a destination of choice,” he adds. “Does the airport [internacional] from Bari and the tomb of Saint Nicolas, which is a place of Russian Orthodox pilgrimage.
The buyer, a businesswoman, is eager to make the most of her new property and plans to add more windows and another fireplace.