“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard
International real estate is a serious business. Finding dream homes around the world for my readers is what I do. Homes that will make them money…homes that will give them a place to spend time in a beautiful part of the world…homes that will do both of those things.
But there’s also a lot of fun in this business. The travel, the adventure…and the weird and wonderful properties my team and I come across as we scout the world for the best real estate opportunities.
Houses around the world literally come in all shapes and sizes…from round towers to lighthouses, to boats. There is no end to the buildings and structures that can be turned into homes.
So for this week’s cheap dream homes, I’m sharing some of the quirkier listings my research team have come across recently.
Check them out below…
Sulmona, Abruzzo, ItalyListing Price: €70,000 ($81,500)
The historic town of Sulmona is located in Abruzzo, and it’s one of the locations our scout Paul hit up on his tour of Italy looking for bargain homes (if you missed his report from Sulmona that I shared with you last week, you’ll find it here).
Just a few minutes drive from Sulmona’s historic center is this wonderfully quirky round home. The structure of the house has had renovation work done but the inside is still unfinished. There is the possibility of having one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen/living room, and a study. And because it is a round structure, you have panoramic views of the Abruzzo countryside. This fixer upper also comes with some agricultural land.
Treignac, Limousin, FranceListing Price: €98,500 ($114,600)
This is your quintessential French fairytale home…complete with its own round tower. Located walking distance to the medieval quarter of Treignac, it has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room with an open fireplace, and a kitchen. There’s also an attic that could be converted for more space and a pantry and utility room.
At the front of the house is a small courtyard paved with local stones from another older property. This house was built sometime before 1900.
Treignac sits on the banks of the River Vezere and has been designated one of the most beautiful villages in France. It forms part of the one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella and has retained much of its historic features, including a 13th century bridge. The area around here is also known for its white-water activities.
Villalonga, Valencia, SpainListing Price: €295,000 ($343,400)
This listing doesn’t fall into the “cheap homes” category but I felt it was worth sharing for its pure quirkiness. Located in protected national park outside the town of Villalonga in Valencia, in eastern Spain, is this boat-shaped villa. It has just under 2,500 square feet of living space with six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, a living room with a wood burning stove, and numerous decks that are perfect for outdoor dining. There’s a small moat around the boat with koi and goldfish in part of it, a garden, a small pool, and a greenhouse.
The town of Villalonga is less than a 10-minute drive away and you can be at the beach in 20 minutes. This would make for a fun Airbnb…there is enough room for parking for up to eight cars and the airports of Alicante and Valencia are less than 90 minutes from here.
Your Comments and Questions
Akka says: Hello Ronan. I read your reports mostly on Europe and the Americas. Do you have plans for Asian countries? Especially the Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. When may you consider those opportunities?
Ronan says: Hi Akka. There’s a very simple reason why I don’t spend much time covering Southeast Asia. While it’s a stunning part of the world, it’s not a welcoming place to foreign real estate investors.
First, in places like Vietnam and Thailand the laws prohibit foreigners from owning property outright. You can own the house or structure but not the land its built on, which puts you on very shaky ground, so to speak.
You’re also competing with a flood of Chinese money. And these are buyers who see real estate primarily as a store of value, not as a way to generate profits.
When I scouted Vietnam 10 years ago, the Chinese, happy to operate in opaque or murky regulatory environments, had it all sewn up. And I figured it was a terrible idea to try and circumvent the system with any of the hacks peddled by opportunistic middle-men. Some lawyers were offering to create structures that they claim give ownership rights. They establish a local entity on your behalf. You are the minority shareholder but retain an option to buy out the silent appointees (nominated by your lawyer) for a nominal amount at any time in the future. It’s a terrible idea.
Western buyers are much better off where we can play to our advantage, in places like Panama and the Riviera Maya where we can lock in yields upward of 10%…15%…even 20%.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing Southeast Asia entirely. It is one of the most exciting regions in the world right now, and with the right play, you can find great deals. But you need to be very clear on what you’re buying.