4 Replies Latest reply: Apr 5, 2012 11:32 AM by eolsen RSS

    Just starting out, should I invest in major improvments?

    New Member

      Hi there


      I am very new to the forum and just starting out with renting the family property in Tuscany. We have two houses right next to each other in a village of 8 houses. The village is perched on a hilltop and populated with Americand and Brits and one Italian/American. We have rented speratically for the past 20 years or so but this was all done by word of mouth. I am taking the reins and making a serious push to rent the houses a lot more and get them to a point where they are not just supporting themselves but making money.


      The larger house has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 large utility/laundry room, 1 large kitchen, 2 large livingrooms and 1 large balcony. Thats what is on the first two floors, the basement (which is actually the ground floor on the other side of the house) is not built out but could be turned into a 2 bedroom apartment.


      The second house has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen, 2 livingrooms and a large print making studio. I am considering moving the studio to the basement of the larger house and turning it's space into a master suite (there is already plumming in it) making that a 3 bedroom 2 bath house.


      The houses are beutiful renovated farm houses in a village that has been around since roman times and maybe before. The vistas are spectacular and the village is remote enough to really get away from it all, but a quick drive to all the ameneties such as high end restaurants and high end shopping, and golf.


      My question is this. Would it be wise to make a serious investment in the properties? I am rough estimating that 300k could pay to finish out the other apartment, update the kitchen and bathrooms, update all the beds and furnature and put in a pool. I could conceivably have 10 bedrooms in three different units. The houses are both ownd outright by the way.


      I know this is the kind of question that most people are hesitant to answer, but I just want to get an idea of what others have experienced.


      Thank you,



        • Re: Just starting out, should I invest in major improvments?
          carol Premier Contributor

          Sounds like a wonderful town and lovely homes.  It's been ages since I visited Tuscany, but the next time I go I'll definitely rent a home!


          Here's what you need to do to figure out what remodeling makes sense:


          Look at prices of your competitors -- how much rent do they charge for a 2 BR, 3 BR, 4 BR, ... home?  Are there any competitors with a pool?  How much more do they charge? That will tell you how much additional rent you might be able to earn if you add an extra bedroom or  a pool; you'll also have to make some realistic assumptions about occupancy rates (check the availability schedules of homes in your area).   Figure out how long (years) it will take to recoup your investment and decide if the investment is worth it compared to other ways to use your money. 


          You should also compare your furnishings with your competitors.   It's much cheaper to upgrade by painting and buying a few new pieces of furniture and nice linens than it is to remodel a home.   In fact, I would advise you to do that first and see whether you get more bookings without a huge investment.


          I don't know your market at all, of course.  But my house was originally configured as two units -- a 2-bedroom apartment and the "main" part of the house with 6 bedrooms.   I thought I could earn more rent with the two units.  However, I soon found out that the big family reunions that  are the bulk of my business all preferred to have the whole house to themselves -- they didn't want to rent half a house and were always nervous about who would be in the other unit.  So now I rent both units together, one big place -- I get more rent, and they get privacy.   If your market is typically large groups,  then I wouldn't make an apartment in your basement, I'd add bedrooms and a bathroom to the rest of the house.  But if your market is mostly couples or one family, then a separate apartment might be appealing.  

            • Re: Just starting out, should I invest in major improvments?
              New Member

              Thanks for the reply Carol


              I think at this point we are deciding if we want to make a large push all at once or do the upgrades slowly over time. Upper end homes in our area look like these






              I don't think we can quite reach that level simply because we are not a stand alone villa. We do have the plus of being very close to a golf course though, and the vews are absolutly spectacular.


              A place like this



              is totally doable for us though, and we basically have two of these plus a smaller apartment if we did want to go that rout.

              I think I like the idea of having several different sized units so that I can capture as many different retal types as I can. Tuscany brings in all types, so that couple looking for a cozy spot in the mountains can take the small apartment, while that huge family can take the big house or all three at once. And there is always the possibiliyt of sending spill-over from a very large group to our neighbors.

                • Re: Just starting out, should I invest in major improvments?
                  Active Contributor

                  We agree with Carol that a thorough look at properties near you or in the same general area is a good idea.  If you want to retain your printmaking studio, then our first thought was to go ahead and move it to the basement of the larger house, assuming it would have its own entrance and would not inconvenience your guests upstairs.  That configuration would give you two separate houses and make the smaller house into a 3 bedroom.  If you have a large party, they could rent both houses but if two parties, they would both have privacy.


                  Just our thoughts.  And we would love to get back to Italy!

                    • Re: Just starting out, should I invest in major improvments?
                      New Member

                      Thanks for the input. That's exactly what we are thinking at this point. The studio would also be built out in such a way that we would be laying the groundwork for an eventual apartment. We would pour a cement floor suitable for tiling later, but would leave the tile off, and simply finish the cement. We would put in plumbing for an eventual bathroom/kitch (two sides of one wall probably), but not finish it out untill we are ready to convert it.


                      I think we have a heck of a lot of potential here.