Sunday 11 December 2016

How to buy an entire village - on the cheap

Isabelle Fraser

Published 05/04/2016 | 11:08

Why buy a house when you can buy the whole village? It is not as rare as it seems.

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A Yorkshire village, complete with more than 40 houses and over one thousand acres has just been put on the market for £20 million. Left untouched for 50 years, it is a time warp and a great opportunity to put on your own soap opera.

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Recently, Savills sold the hamlet of Little Rollright, near the celeb hotspot of Chipping Norton, for an undisclosed sum. It had been on the market for £18 million. It has a Grade II-listed manor house, built in the 17th century, five cottages, and sits on 509 acres. The village chapel is not included in the price, as it is owned by the Church of England.

If the price tag of the abandoned villages in England seem a little steep, this abandoned fort from World War One is on the market for just £350,000. Located just off the Lincolnshire coast near Grimsby, it requires a bit of tender loving care.

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But looking elsewhere might get you a much better deal.

The abandoned Spanish hamlet: €220,000

In Galicia, north-western Spain, a village complete with a cattle barn, bakery, orchard and six houses is on sale for €220,000.

But selling O Penso, which comes with 100 acres, has been difficult: a spokesman for the agent said that more than 500 people were interested in the village, but its isolation and the huge amount of work that it needs, has proved a sticking point.

“In Galicia, as far as I am aware only one village has ever been sold. I have never sold any and nor have my competitors. There are more than 2,000 uninhabited villages in Galicia alone,” says a spokesman for the selling agent, Galician Country Homes. This is due to high levels of emigration from the area.

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In 2014, a mayor in Galicia offered an entire 15th century village free of charge to someone to redevelop it, as the municipality lacked the money. But the catch was they had to be the right candidate: the mayor would only accept offers from people with a plan to rescue every one of the houses there.

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In Spain there are more than 3,5000 abandoned villages, and 125 of them are for sale, according to Elvira Fafian, an agent at La Inmobiliaria Aldeas abandonadas, which specialises in selling abandoned villages. Prices start at €30,000 for an abandoned village.

The American ghost town: $2.3 million

In Connecticut, in the United States, an eccentric millionaire and aerospace tycoon named Raymond Schmitt constructed a 62-acre town which was originally built in the 19th century. It is on sale for $2.3 million, and has been on the market since 2014.

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Mr Schmitt even constructed a gothic chapel in the nearby town, which was painstakingly took it to pieces, transported 30 miles down the road and re-assembled in Johnsonville.

The village grew over the years and eventually became a working replica of a small Victorian town, including a post office, sawmill and barbershop, schoolhouse, general store and the original homestead of the mill owners. It also has a waterfall and a wooden dam.

It’s rumoured locally that his ghost still stalks the site, lamenting the fact that it never opened as a theme park as planned. The village was initially put up for auction on Halloween in 2014, but remains unsold.

The Italian hamlet on eBay: €245,000

The drastic decline in population left many of Calsazio’s stone and timber houses lying empty. The solution: eBay.

The listing described the hamlet as 'used', and the Alpine hamlet which is at an altitude of 1,870 feet, has 14 houses which were snapped up online.  There are no roads inside the village, but just narrow, twisting paths and flights of wonky stone steps.

These mostly-empty villages and hamlets are scattered across Italy. “If the eBay auction awakens interest in our region, then it’s welcome,” said the local mayor, Anna Bonino.

“The problem with these tiny villages is that unless someone intervenes, they are at risk of disappearing altogether. Calsazio is not even the least populated village. The nearby hamlets of Bose and Vasario have two inhabitants each.”

In 2014, a mayor in the Sicilian village of Gangi gave away houses in the village for just €1.

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The 12th century town was hit by population decline, and the new owners must promise to redo the houses in four years in order take part in the deal.

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Telegraph.co.uk

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