Want to get on the property ladder? Buy a small town…

Photo: tradebit


Along with castles, old churches and other unusual properties, entire hamlets abandoned long ago by their former inhabitants are showing up on the market, listed by municipalities that due to the economic crisis can no longer afford to maintain them, reports Forbes .

France and Spain seem to be at the top of the spreading trend, which first caught global attention last year when the French Village of Courbefy, in the central Limousin region, was sold for €520,000 to an American artist at an auction that attracted the checkbooks of international investors. Courbefy features 21 buildings, among them a ruined 13th century fortress and castle, a chapel and an extraordinary view of the Chalus Montains.

According to the magazine L’Express, there are abandoned hamlets for sale “everywhere in France. In Lorraine, in the Cevennes, in the Limousin or Provence. Abandoned, these villages are whole pieces of French heritage. They seduce buyers with varied profiles motivated by gain, heritage conservation or personal adventure.”

They’re depicted as a boon for groups or individuals seeking investments ‘outside the box’. In August the television program “So France” reported on the town of Bain-les-Bains in the Lorraine, with individual houses, tenements and a church spread over 20 hectares. The town was bought for €600,000 by a couple now restoring it.

The daily newspaper Sud Ouest ran a recent article about the negotiations to buy the hamlets of Fallot and Naudin in Midi-Pyrenees by an engineer  planning to restore them, and to install high-speed Internet connections to attract telecommuters.

In Spain, the sale of towns is a booming business, especially considering the numbers of offers by agents at prices that at times sound like a joke. Due to the harsh real estate crisis, “the sun-kissed country is dotted with abandoned villages for sale everywhere” according Britain’s The Sun, “a third of them being bought by Britons.”