This village in Italy went viral for $1 homes and has more cheap houses for sale—but the

In Asia

Sambuca di Sicilia is hoping to continue years of success with its latest scheme to sell off abandoned homes at a very low cost.

The Italian village first went viral in 2019 when it auctioned off old homes with bids starting at 1 euro. The town did it again in 2021 with bids starting at 2 euros and is looking to repeat it for a third time with bids starting at 3 euros or $3.

This time around, Sambuca di Sicilia has about a dozen properties set for auction, according to CNN reports.

The town’s mayor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, told CNN that the first sale helped revamp the local economy with an influx of 20 million euros or $21.5 million.

Since Sambuca di Sicilia started its viral scheme, 250 homes have been sold outside of the original auctions.

“Our town is now definitely on the map,” Cacioppo said. “We just want to make it clear that by numbering these batches, more sales will likely follow in coming years. Foreigners are flocking to buy our homes, it’s been a hit so far.”

Sambuca di Sicilia announced it had several homes for sale starting at 3 euros.

Juan Carlos Fotografia | Istock | Getty Images

For this year’s auction, the town is selling two to three-bedroom houses built on one or three floors and approximately 538 to 861 square feet. Some of the properties feature courtyards and iron-wrought balconies, but they are in need of repair.

Cacioppo said the current homes for sale are as “structurally stable as those so far sold.”

The properties will be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder, and the winning bid will be opened in front of a judge. To participate in the auction, bidders are required to pay a 5,000 euro deposit or about $5,399. If you lose the bid, the money will be returned, but if you win, the money will become the initial deposit.

CNN reports that part of agreeing to buy the property means that the new owners must complete the renovation work on their homes within three years or risk losing their deposit. However, the town hall has been flexible with deadlines due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sambuca di Sicilia has yet to announce the start date of the auction.

Sambuca di Sicilia first went viral in 2019 for selling off homes for 1 euro.

Deniseserra | Istock | Getty Images

This buyer has no regrets about her ‘1-euro’ home in Sambuca di Sicilia

When Sambuca di Silicia announced the village’s first $1 auction, Meredith Tabbone, a self-employed financial advisor, bought one with her winning bid of 5,555 euros. She had never seen the property in person.

The 44-year-old Chicago native told CNBC Make It that when she flew to see her new home for the first time that year, she ended up buying the building next door for 22,000 euros, or just over $23,000.

Tabbone spent a total of 425,000 euros, or roughly $446,000, on renovations.

Meredith Tabbone is from Chicago and learned about Sambuca di Sicilia’s 1-euro home auction in 2019.

Mickey Todiwala | CNBC Make It

“From the moment that I sent in the bid and checked my email every day and found out that I won, all the way through this process, there have been 4 million moments of frustration, exhaustion, contemplation of how to move forward,” Tabbone said.

For Tabbone, her purchase and her journey to make the abandoned house a home has been worth it.

“I never felt like this wasn’t the right place for me to be, and that this wasn’t the right project for me to work on or community to live in.”

The town also offers Tabbone a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life that makes her want to “have the focus of my life be about just personal fulfillment in general,” instead of just work.

Meredith Tabbone says she’s never done a renovation project like this before, but she was inspired by the work of her father, who was an architect.

Mickey Todiwala | CNBC Make It

It also gave her the chance to connect with her family history and bring attention to Sambuca di Sicilia.

“A lot of people refer to this as a revival of this town,” Tabbone said. “I like to think of it more as a renaissance.”

Tabbone has no plans to sell her Sambuca di Sicilia home despite getting offers.

“I have a cousin, [and] I’ve already told her she can use the house if I pass away before her. After that, it’s going to be donated to the village,” Tabbone said.

Conversions from euros to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 euro to 1.07 USD on June 10, 2024. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

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