For buyers eager to live out their Under the Tuscan Sun dreams—or just not particularly enticed by the fixer-upper deals being offered in Detroit or Newark—it might be time to pack your bags and head to Sicily. The small town of Gangi is generating PR with a pretty unbeatable offer, as the New York Times reported yesterday: They're giving away houses for free to buyers willing to fix them up within the next four years. Yes, free.
As the town's population has shrunk and economic prospects dwindled over the past few decades, the Times notes, many family houses have been left to sit fallow, so if you do snag one, you're likely to inherit a ton of work. The types of houses available—primarily pagglialore, or "squat, tower-like structures" intended to house farmers on the top floors and their farm animals on the bottom—might not be to some buyers' taste.
Still, for some, the idea of a free house in Italy and a quaint, historic renovation project sounds like an appealing mission. And to ease fears of foreign buyers about plopping down in the middle of Sicily and attempting to navigate local housing law (not to mention negotiate with local contractors), the town has apparently streamlined the process, minimizing red tape, and will put buyers directly in touch with owners. "The bureaucracy is what worries people most, but we don't sell a house and leave people alone," one local broker told the Times.
So naturally, there's already a waitlist for the 200 houses still available. On top of that, preference will be given to buyers looking to start an "economic enterprise" like a new suite of hotel rooms that's being made of two homes in the town's center. Still, can't hurt to at least put your name down on the waitlist, right?