Top tips for buying a cheap house in Italy from people who have already bought one

(CNN) – Buying a cheap property in Italy is an attractive prospect for many travelers, especially with the growing number of towns offering homes for nothing through regeneration schemes.

While some people have been brave enough to take the leap and own a home that costs between one and several thousand euros in a rural Italian village, others may have been frustrated by the fear of having something is not right.

But are there any red flags that potential buyers should look out for when considering buying such a home? And how do you know when you’re treading on slippery ground?

When it comes to giving invaluable advice and tips on this particular subject, none better than those who have actually done it themselves.

In January, the Italian town of Biccari Make the title when it started to sell off both dilapidated single-euro homes and ready-to-go homes with minimal repairs – the latter being the most successful.

Mayor Gianfilippo Mignogna has chosen to provide the homes in an effort to revive the ailing town, which has seen its population shrink over the years as more residents leave for work in Italian cities. or in other countries.

Here are three of those who purchased, or helped buy, one of the turnkey properties recounting their experiences.

‘Inheritance’ problem

Mariano Russo purchased a ready-to-rent property in Biccari, Italy earlier this year.

Mariano Russo purchased a ready-to-rent property in Biccari, Italy earlier this year.

Mariano Russo

Mariano Russo, an Argentine of Italian descent, purchased a cozy two-story, 55-square-foot house in Biccari for 7,000 euros (about $7,800).

Russo’s house was refurbished when it was sold – even the walls were freshly painted – and features a panoramic terrace, while the entrance is on a picturesque alleyway of the historic center. history of the town. In addition to the purchase price, the notary for the deed of sale also charged him an additional €3,000 ($3,400).

“It was livable,” said Russo, manager of Argentina Per Il Mondo, a worldwide Italian-Argentine fusion organization.

“The structure is solid, even though it’s an old house, there’s no mold on the walls and the roof is in perfect shape.”

According to Russo, the buying process went very smoothly thanks to the support of the local surveyor in charge of the project.

Russo, who plans to live in Biccari with his wife and two daughters for most of the year, explains: “It’s important to have someone to guide you along the way, we are lucky to have an agent. this.

“He did the paperwork for us and helped us pay the property taxes. He made sure the house didn’t have any pre-debt, which is something you don’t want to find out after buying it. .”

However, Russo almost finds himself trapped in the labyrinthine nightmare others have had when buying a multi-owner Italian property.

Russo's two-story, 55-square-foot turnkey estate costs 7,000 euros (about $7,800).

Russo’s two-story, 55-square-foot turnkey estate costs 7,000 euros (about $7,800).

Mariano Russo

This house has two owners – sisters who live in different cities. Both must first agree to the purchase and sale, and then the final price.

Thankfully, the couple was on good terms and everything went well. But this is not always the case.

Under Italian law, even if a property has 1,000 different owners, each must agree to the sale or else it cannot continue. And let’s just say that Italy has its fair share of quarrelsome relatives.

Therefore, the buyer, with the help of the town hall, must prevent the risk of an unknown heir emerging from nowhere to claim the property sold.

Russo notes that it is important to ensure that the property has no pending mortgage and that all minor repairs or renovations completed by previous owners are legally licensed without costs have been paid. Otherwise, the new owners will have to deal with it themselves, or face legal consequences.

Buyers should also be aware of any third-party damage that may have been caused by the home’s former owner before signing the deed of sale.

For example, if a damaged water main flooded a neighbor’s kitchen, or if a roof tile fell cracked a structure adjacent to the property.

Even previous remodeling could be a problem if it wasn’t properly approved or not allowed retroactively through a so-called building amnesty.

Russo explains: “One sister could not be present on the day of the deed, so she authorized the other sister to sign on her behalf.

“We make sure everything goes well when buying and selling. Previously, the sisters remodeled the house, tearing down a wall to combine two rooms, but the construction has been resolved.

“All of this has to show up on the papers, before the sale. Nobody wants any last-minute hassle.”

If such remodeling is not notified to town hall, which is a legal requirement, the new buyer could find himself in a situation where the purchase – and sale – deed is declared void.

The right intermediary

Rolf Bauer bought a 150 square meter house in a rural Italian town.

Rolf Bauer bought a 150 square meter house in a rural Italian town.

Comune Biccari

Finding an efficient agent was key for Rolf Bauer, a retired engineer from Germany, when choosing a bargain home in Biccari.

“I love the village vibe, I believe fate sent me here. I drove to Puglia this summer to pick a home and it was the first town I stopped in. It was perfect.” , said Bauer, who paid €30,000 ($34,000) for his renovated home.

“I immediately went to the surveyor’s office, he was great. It’s very important to have the right person to help you choose the home that’s best for you.”

He chose to buy in Puglia instead of Sicily, where many towns are selling homes for one euro.

“Sicily is too far south, plus I never wanted a house for 1 euro,” he explains. “It requires too much work.”

Bauer, who owns other properties in Europe, finds the agent’s fees – under €500 ($560) – to be much lower than those he incurs in other countries.

When he resided in Biccari, Bauer did not pay property taxes, which is another selling point.

Bauer's 50 square meter home is spread over three floors and offers panoramic views

Bauer’s 50 square meter home is spread over three floors and offers panoramic views

Comune Biccari

“I realized that you have to do something with the money, use it to relax and enjoy life,” he said. “I am a home collector, and in Biccari I have found a warm place where I can live for a few months a year. I hate cold weather, here I probably don’t even need to set up. heating system.”

His 150 square meter home spread over three floors, features panoramic views, vaulted ceilings, an open kitchen, large cellar and stone stairs leading to the front entrance.

Bauer completed some minor work, such as fixing the floors, upgrading the electrical system, and installing a new shower all by himself. He plans to turn the upstairs bedroom into a porch.

Unlike most buyers, Bauer doesn’t source any furniture, home appliances or even light bulbs locally.

Instead, he ships them from countries like Germany, where he says the price and sometimes the quality could be better.

“It depends on what you want and whether you’re contacting suppliers in other places like I do. It’s always good to look around and compare things,” he says.

Bauer, an accomplished squash player, had been living in his new Biccari place for two months and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Despite the language barrier – Bauer doesn’t speak Italian – so far he relies on translation apps and finds that locals often struggle to understand if they want to speak to he or not.

Notarization problem

Aksana Klimavets, along with Biccari mayor Gianfilippo Mignognai, helped a buyer purchase one of the homes.

Aksana Klimavets, along with Biccari mayor Gianfilippo Mignognai, helped a buyer purchase one of the homes.

Comune Biccari

The process of buying a cheap Biccari house was a bit more complicated for Aksana Klimavets, a Russian interpreter in Italy who assisted a businesswoman in Moscow in buying an old house here for 15,000 euros ( around 16,800 USD).

Tucked away in a cobblestone alley, the three-story home has been completely refurbished at the time of sale, with new white vaulted ceilings, marble stairs and a panoramic terrace overlooking one small square – the old owners even left a cart. .

But according to Klimavets, finding a notary available to witness the signatures on the deed is extremely difficult, while the buying and selling process takes several months.

“Once we found the notary, we were asked to transfer the funds immediately before the deed, which is not possible with Russia’s strict regulations on outgoing international payments, which takes a long time. day,” she explained. “The bank needed to check and authorize, and this delayed the sale.”

To speed up this process, the Klimavets client decided to transfer the money to the notary before the scheduled meeting to sign the agreement, that is, to buy the house.

Once this was resolved, the client flew in from Moscow to sign the deed and discovered that the notary had accidentally added the wrong address.

“Fortunately we did a thorough check otherwise we would have bought someone else’s property,” Klimavets adds.

This fully renovated Biccari home sells for €15,000 (about $16,800).

This fully renovated Biccari home sells for €15,000 (about $16,800).

Comune Biccari

When she and the buyer finally met the owner, they discovered that the house had not only five heirs, but multiple inheritances.

“That house has a long history, during the deed meeting, the notary read us a list of the previous owners and now we are contacting an heir to make an appointment,” she explains. transfer utility bills,” she explained.

After overcoming this barrier, the new owner then has to go through the procedure of opening a bank account in Italy, which can be especially difficult for those from Russia, before being able to make any payments. any bills or enjoy your vacation.

But despite those challenges, Klimavets said her clients fell in love with Biccari’s clean streets and pristine setting.

“For Russians, Puglia is a top destination,” she added. “Yes [international] airport in Bari and the tomb of Saint Nicholas, a Russo-Orthodox pilgrimage site. “

The buyer, an unnamed businesswoman, is looking forward to being able to make the most of her new property and has plans to add more windows and another fireplace.


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