They’re not worth this much

Of course, value is subjective. But still:

With its terracotta-tiled stone houses perched on a rocky crag overlooking rugged countryside, it might seem like the perfect Italian hill town.

But San Piero Patti has been losing inhabitants to ageing and migration for decades and has now decided to offer its empty houses for sale at €1 (90p) each in a bid to inject new life into the community.

New owners will be obliged to restore the often dilapidated homes, using traditional stone, timber and terracotta roofing and employing, where possible, local artisans.

Sicily, like most of the Mezzogiorno, is undergoing depopulation. That does leave large chunks of housing that no one locally wants to use. It’s thus cheap enough to buy. But those restoration costs – it’s entirely possible to end up with something worth less on that market than the costs of just having done it up. Sure, value is subjective, you or I might think an Italian cottage worth that doing up cost. The market is telling us that the rest of the world, on average, doesn’t agree.

And there is a reason why these areas are undergoing depopulation of course. Other places offer greater value as a place to live.

9 thoughts on “They’re not worth this much”

  1. There are lots of people that still dream of living a simple life in the countryside, and it’s true that years ago such dreamers were content to ‘live up lanes with fires in a bucket, eat windfalls and tinned sardines…’ Unfortunately, as you say, the cost of restoring and maintaining rural hovels is an expensive business, increasingly restricted to those with deep pockets.

  2. “Ah, the dream of a simple life in the country”

    “Fucks sake, why is the internet connection so shit? I demand the Government upgrade to 40MBps immediately!!”

  3. The global, French insurer I worked for refused to touch anything south of Rome – “we leave that to Generali”. In the Mezzogiorno, they regard general insurance as a savings policy, that can be dipped into as required by a convenient accident.

    And that’s before we get to the protection money …

  4. Before I put coin of the realm down, I’d try real hard to find out why the area is undergoing depopulation. If houses can’t be given away, there tends to be more than one real good reason.

  5. I suppose that if you bought it, moved in and started renovation works, a friendly local would sidle up and give you the name of a relative in the building trade. If you chose not to use his services, a succession of odd accidents would start happening, such as your garden being set alight, your water disconnected, a sewage waggon shedding its load outside your front door, your windows repeatedly being smashed and anything else that BIS might suggest

  6. New owners will be obliged to restore the often dilapidated homes, using traditional stone, timber and terracotta roofing and employing, where possible, local artisans.

    Those restrictions should be enough to ensure anyone with any sense walks away.

    Maybe their target market is Ritchie, Jones etc

  7. “The market is telling us that the rest of the world, on average, doesn’t agree.”
    Surely the market is telling us that, at the margin, the rest of the world does not agree.

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