If you want to get away from the noise of the city and start a new life, you may have thought about moving to a town or rural area with your family. But if what you are looking for are really cheap houses that can be a good investment opportunity, you have another alternative that you may not have considered yet: buying a house in an abandoned town.
Currently and according to data from the INE, in Spain there are 2,900 abandoned villages. Most are located in rural inland areas, especially in regions such as Castilla y León and Aragon, but also in Galicia, Asturias or Catalonia. Of these, it is estimated that 70% are for sale in whole or in part.
These towns, which have suffered progressive depopulation since the 50s of the last century, can be a good real estate offer and offer you great advantages such as a healthier and quieter lifestyle, direct contact with nature or the possibility of starting a business in a unique and charming natural enclave.
A business opportunity and an alternative to repopulate rural areas
Buying houses in abandoned towns or unpopulated villages has advantages but also some drawbacks. The most important of them is that normally, and despite their privileged location, these towns are practically isolated and far from other populations. In fact, many times they hardly have accesses and roads in good condition, and they even lack supply networks for basic services such as water, electricity or telephone.
Despite this, the houses in some abandoned villages, even when they are in ruins, have become an alternative for those who want to invest or promote a tourism or environmental project.
The opportunity is well worth it: some of these houses, also abandoned, are sold for a symbolic price, sometimes as little as hundreds or tens of euros. Normally, when the sale occurs for an almost zero amount, it is a promotion that aims to attract new settlers to the area, so the owner must commit, first, to restore the house and, second, to live in her.
In this sense, the idea of living in rural areas can be very attractive and bucolic, especially because of the possibility of enjoying a quality of life unthinkable in larger urban centers.
But not everything are advantages. Therefore, before buying a house in an abandoned town, you must ask yourself a series of questions, including the relationship of private assets that make up the property.
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Buying a house in an abandoned town: buyer’s profile
Who is considering buying a house in an abandoned town, or even an entire abandoned town? ¿ What is the profile of such investors?
According to data from 2019, the foreign buyer seems the great interested in this type of real estate offers, although national investments have increased by almost 30% in the last ten years.
In the first case, they are retirees, generally from the European Union (especially English, Belgian and French) who choose this option as an investment to spend their last years in retirement in our country.
In the second case, the profiles of home buyers in national abandoned towns are varied, although we highlight three:
- Liberal professionals who new technologies have allowed to untie from the “ties” that held them together with the city for strictly labor reasons (architects, journalists, advertisers, web developers, etc.), and who currently only need to travel to the area’s urban areas in a timely manner.
- Entrepreneurs who want to start businesses related to hospitality and tourism such as rural houses, guides or outdoor sports activities, hostels, etc.
- People who, looking for a new job opportunity or a change of life, have decided to return to the land of their ancestors and settle permanently in rural areas running small businesses, usually within the agricultural sector (livestock farms, production of artisan products, production and sale of BIO fruits and vegetables, etc.).
Is it possible to buy an abandoned town? What is the average investment of this type of operation?
In many cases, real estate investing goes beyond buying one or more houses in abandoned villages, and you can even buy an entire town or village. The cost of the operation, in this case, can be very high, although the greatest economic effort is related to the rehabilitation and the works or licenses to obtain the basic infrastructures.
The acquisition of an abandoned town, as such, can cost less than buying a flat or a house in our usual city, and prices range from 12,000 to 600,000 euros.
But how can you buy an entire town? Should I contact all the owners and make the offer one by one or is it a global sale? How is the operation managed?
In the first place, and from a strictly legal point of view, a person cannot buy an entire town and become its “owner”, although he can acquire all the properties that are part of an abandoned urban nucleus with the exception of property public (streets, squares, church, town hall, etc.), which will continue to belong to the corresponding municipality or archbishopric.
Regarding the purchase, there are real estate agencies specialized in this type of operation, something that serves to solve and prevent claims from possible heirs. This option is also a good alternative for those who want to buy an abandoned town in order to, after a while, sell some houses of the place to other investors.
Currently, real estate agencies receive offers from companies or developers who acquired towns or villages a long time ago but who, for different reasons, could not start their projects and now want to sell.
If you are considering buying an abandoned town, in addition to the investment and the procedures for the operation, it is also essential to assess whether the municipality has elements of artistic or cultural heritage, since it may increase the value of the property or require restorations and maintenance.
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Tips before buying a house in an abandoned town
Our advice as professionals is that, before buying a house in an abandoned town or an entire village, check Sky Marketing that provide the list of all the private assets that make up the site or property and that are for sale. You can make your query on the website of the Electronic Headquarters of the General Directorate of Cadastre (SEC).
It is also advisable to request information from the City Council to which the house or town belongs on the supply of basic services and on all the procedures related to its registration and cancellation, as well as the purchase and maintenance costs (including taxes). In this way, you will be able to evaluate the costs of your investment from the first moment.
Finally, and as with any other real estate investment, it is important that you carefully analyze all the information obtained and that you assess the pros and cons of the acquisition. Then, you just have to take one last step: get the financing to make your dream of buying a house in an abandoned town come true.
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