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This Italian city is struggling to sell its empty homes for one euro.  because?

This Italian city is struggling to sell its empty homes for one euro. because?

(CNN) — In recent years, houses selling for one euro have aroused great interest Italywhere dozens of people chose to take over abandoned properties in some of the country's most populous cities.

But while cities like Mussomeli in Sicily and Zongoli in Campania have managed to sell many abandoned homes to foreigners eager to live the Italian dream, others have faced difficulties selling their empty homes.

Among them is Pattricia, a remote medieval town of just 3,000 located south of Rome, where more than 40 abandoned properties were left to rot at the beginning of the 20th century.

Situated on a rocky plateau overlooking the Sacco Valley in central Italy, Patricia is an idyllic place, but life here was not easy for the locals in the past.

Abandoned houses

The Italian town of Patresa, south of Rome, is struggling to get rid of its abandoned homes.  (Credit: Patrika Municipality)

The Italian town of Patresa, south of Rome, is struggling to get rid of its abandoned homes. (Credit: Patrika Municipality)

Many left in search of a better future, leaving their homes empty for decades.

In an attempt to revive this dying city, the city's mayor, Lucio Fiordaliso, tried to emulate the success of other Italian towns that put their empty homes on sale for one euro, or just over a dollar. So far it has had little success.

“Initially, we identified all the abandoned houses and made official contact with the original owners to invite them to hand over their destroyed family belongings, but we were able to sell only two houses for one euro,” Fiordaliso told CNN.

Although local authorities in cities abandoned by earthquakes and other natural disasters have the authority to put abandoned houses up for sale without the permission of their owners, this is not the case in Patrica and other similar cities.

“We first need the will of the homeowners, or their heirs, to get rid of their old homes,” Fiordaliso says.

“Only then can we offer these properties for sale with their approval, which makes the process very complicated. Almost impossible.”

Fiordaliso explains that the municipality received a “positive response” from 10 owners after sending “a general appeal to involve them in our one-euro housing project,” but they withdrew at the last minute. The rest never responded.

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Public tender

Many families left the town in search of a better future, leaving their homes empty for decades.  (Credit: Patrika Municipality)

Many families left the town in search of a better future, leaving their homes empty for decades. (Credit: Patrika Municipality)

Fiordaliso believes those who changed their minds may have done so because of problems with other relatives who owned shares in the same property.

Abandoned buildings in old Italian cities are sometimes divided between several heirs who own only part – such as a bathroom, a balcony and a kitchen – and nothing can be sold without the written consent of all the heirs, according to Italian law.

In the past, it was customary for children to inherit parts of the family home, including plots of land, wells, and orchards.

But this does not always guarantee that relatives will remain on good terms and/or in contact years later.

“The sale of potential €1 houses faced a dead end, as most of the relatives sharing the same property were at loggerheads with each other for personal reasons or could not agree on the sale, and some of them barely spoke to each other. Or knew each other. Others were living In distant cities and even abroad,” explains the mayor.

In some cases, homes were not formally distributed among heirs in the past, so the property line was broken along the way with no clear indication of the identity of the current owner.

According to Fiordaliso, locating descendants of owners who had emigrated abroad long ago, mainly to the United States, Canada and Argentina, who may have had different surnames, or who may have transferred their Italian property to foreigners without notifying the municipality of Patricia, was found to have been a task. Very laborious.

“It's like looking for a needle in a haystack,” he adds.

The only two abandoned houses Patricia was able to sell under her €1 plan were 100% owned by two local residents, so no need to contact fourth cousins ​​or great-grandchildren, and they were able to sell without complicated ownership.

Family ties

The remote medieval town has a population of about 3,000.  (Credit: Patrika Municipality)

The remote medieval town has a population of about 3,000. (Credit: Patrika Municipality)

In cases of family conflict, relatives may decide not to sell their share due to legal issues related to inheritance disputes, or even as a form of revenge.

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Original owners who have lived elsewhere for many years may fear revealing themselves to local authorities, potentially being hit with back taxes on their property and waste disposal fees of up to 2,500 euros (about $2,730 annually), in addition to unpaid utilities. Invoices).

Another reason for the non-implementation of the one-euro plan in Patrica may be the condition of abandoned houses.

Some are too abandoned to be sold, even if their owners were willing to do so.

Gianni Valico, Patrica's neighbor, and his two brothers decide to put their parents' abandoned house up for sale to see what happens, but they soon discover that the house is completely undesirable.

“We thought: why not try it? Even if it was just one euro, we would get rid of a lot of useless stones,” says Valjko. “We were curious to see if anyone might be interested in buying it anyway.” .

“We were aware that after half a century our parents' house was in rubble, completely destroyed, as if it had been completely destroyed.

“The roof and most of the walls have collapsed, leaving an outdoor room covered in grass and shrubs. Only a plot of land remains, an ugly garden in the historic center.”

According to Valico, a neighbor was using what was left of the house to get rid of his old belongings.

“Then we realized no one would buy it,” he says. “It is a bad investment that requires a lot of money to rebuild the house. It is better to buy a country house in the surrounding area.”

Fortunately, not all of the abandoned houses in Patrica, which can be sold for one euro, are in such a terrible condition, and some have sparked the interest of potential buyers.

“A few foreigners came to see the abandoned houses for one euro. There was a lot of interest, but unfortunately we had nothing to offer them,” the mayor explains, adding that those interested came from the United States and Europe.

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Meanwhile, Fiordaliso has come up with new ways to increase the city's appeal in hopes of attracting newcomers.

New plan

Recently, the municipality funded the renovation of the exteriors of some old palaces, encouraging many residents to completely redesign their old family homes and give them a new use after decades of neglect.

Alessandra Pagliarossi went further and transformed the mansion she inherited from her husband in the 1950s into an elegant bed and breakfast called the Patricia.

“We restored the roof, which was practically no longer there, and the interior. The mayor's move finally gave us a good excuse to renovate the entire property, which had been sitting there unused,” says Pagliarossi, who took advantage of the new tax breaks. By the municipality to revitalize the local economy.

Those who decide to start a business, such as a B&B or an artisan shop in the Old Town, will be exempt from paying taxes on waste disposal, advertising and use of public spaces for 10 years, and will be given tax breaks for restructuring costs.

“In the case of a small B&B, this means a tax saving of about 1,200 euros per year, which is a significant amount,” explains Pagliarossi.

Foreigners who plan to settle in Patrica and open a small business can also benefit from tax benefits.

So far, two new guest houses and a restaurant have been opened.

Many Americans from immigrant families have recently visited Patricia to view properties, says real estate agent Ilario Grossi, who runs the Immobile Lipini real estate agency in the nearby Chicano town.

But move-in ready homes, with two bedrooms priced from €20,000 (US$21,832), were more attractive.

“There is interest, but when many (foreigners) see the poor condition of old houses, they prefer to choose ready-made apartments that have already been renovated or that only need small repairs,” Grossi says.

“So purchasing one of these newer buildings is much more convenient than getting an older building that needs major renovation, where the final cost will ultimately be much higher.”

Despite these challenges, Fiordaliso has not given up on selling some of the city's long-abandoned homes, even if he has to negotiate between warring relatives to do so.