British City Offers Homes for £1

In the central England city of Stoke-on-Trent, the price of a cup of coffee could buy you a three-bedroom house.

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Darren Staples / REUTERS

A woman walks past derelict houses in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, October 13, 2011.

In the central England city of Stoke-on-Trent, the cost of a cup of coffee could buy you a three-bedroom house.

The city’s council is offering 35 derelict houses for sale at just £1 ($1.53) each, attracting the interest of 600 would-be homeowners, reports the BBC. It’s an attempt to breathe new life into two particularly run-down streets in the Cobridge area of the city. According to council data, as of 2011 there were around 4,000 empty houses in Stoke-on-Trent—a city hit hard by industrial decline, with high rates of crime and unemployment—and many of those properties have become targets for vandalism and arson.

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“We want to revitalize these areas, build a community spirit and turn these places into thriving neighborhoods again,” writes the council on its web page. There are high hopes for the plan: within five years the council expects the area to become “a thriving community with good quality housing for people with a choice of owning or renting their home.”

The terraced houses have two to three bedrooms and are in a variety of conditions ranging from liveable to all but falling down, writes the Daily Mail. Buyers will be contractually obliged to renovate the properties and bring them back into use, at an estimated cost of up to £30,000 ($45,773) per building – for which they can take out a loan from the council. That’s still a pretty good deal, though: the average price for a terraced house in Stoke-on-Trent is £68,878 ($105,091), according to the Land Registry of England and Wales.

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There are a few more conditions as well: buyers must currently live in Stoke and have lived there for the past three years; if the house is sold within 10 years, the town council gets a percentage of the profit. Also, the new house must be the buyer’s main home for a minimum of five years – ruling out the idea of people renting out their £1 homes for a tidy sum.

The program, which opened for applications this week, isn’t the first such scheme in England; Liverpool council offered 20 homes for £1 in February, attracting 2,000 enquiries, the Metro reports.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the market, the U.K.’s most expensive home has just gone up for sale, at £250 million ($382 million), reports the Daily Mail. The property, located near London’s Trafalgar Square, features 50,000 square feet of living space and is believed to have its own ballroom.

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