A French woman has bought a house for €1 – and says she was delighted to find the offer was not a scam. Lisette Parotte, 35, was living in a rented flat near Toulouse with her family when she first heard of the €1 house put up for sale by the town council of Saint-Amand-Montrond in Cher.
“I went online and filled out the first forms, but then I really thought that it might be some sort of a trick,” Ms Parotte told The Connexion.
“It was only after I called the municipality and spoke to them that I realised the offer was real.
‘It’s like winning a lottery’
Now I am very happy to have bought the house. It is like winning a lottery.”
As part of her file, she had to prove she had not owned a property in the last two years.
Local deputy mayor in charge of town planning Francis Blondieau said 92 people made contact after the town hall said it would be selling the house, but at least half fell at the first hurdle of filling out a dossier.
It had to include a letter of motivation, a description of how the house would be updated, a timetable for the work, and an explanation of how it could be financed.
Others pulled out for various reasons until there were four candidates, but when the decision date approached, two of those pulled out.
“We were left with two and took the decision on the basis of how involved in the community they said they wanted to be,” he said.
“Ms Parotte impressed us all the way down the line.
“The house is basically sound but needs work, especially to do with improving insulation and having the electricity and plumbing updated.
Bring life back to town
“Like many towns in France, the town centre of Saint-Amand-Montrond, which has a population of around 10,000, has seen some businesses leave, and some people, and we wanted to show that life can be bought back to it through this house, which has been empty for a long time.”
The council bought the house in the early 1960s and used it as a laundry, but when that was moved to new premises 15 years ago, it was locked up.
Mr Blondieau said getting a family like Ms Parotte’s into the 90m² house was important too because it showed the potential of lots of other empty properties in the town centre.
“It is getting harder to justify building new houses on agricultural land on the edge of towns, so we have to show that existing buildings can be brought up to date and be good places to live.”
Estimates for complete renovation of the house, done by professionals, come in the €90,000 to €150,000 range.
The house itself is estimated to be worth €27,000.
The town council has another, much smaller, house, which it is considering selling for €1, but doing so will take some time as it is currently used for storage.
Ms Parotte, who works in business administration, her graphic artist partner and their two children have moved to a flat in the town and intend to start work on the house soon, starting with the roof.
'It's an adventure'
They plan to do a lot of the work themselves to keep costs down.
“We have not done anything like this before, but we are both practical people and can learn.
It is an adventure,” she said.
They plan on turning the property, which also has a small courtyard, into a four-bedroom house.
She admits that she had never heard of the town before the auction, but now looks forward to living there.
“It is quiet and old-school, with everyone very respectful and saying hello to each other in the street.
It has good schools, and all the amenities we need,” she said.
“I am sure we will be very happy here.”
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