If you haven’t already, do read this, to give you some background, and evidence, if you needed it, that making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is something of a speciality of mine! Not that Villa Carezza is in any way a sow’s ear, but it is sometimes difficult to see the huge potential of a house which, in Puglia, is usually put up for sale full of an immense amount of crap and in a, cosmetically speaking, complete state.
I’m used to having to see through this to how the property could become. This one for me ticked all the boxes – character, space for four bedrooms and bathrooms, sea views (from the top floor bedroom and terrace), olive trees, glorious countryside and the right amount of land for a holiday house – enough for a pool and al fresco living, but not so much that the maintenance bill is enormous. The other big plus is that it is in a peaceful, but not remote setting. Monopoli, with its beaches restaurants, cafes and shops is nearby – 6 km to the town.
As you come into the main house, the first room, with fireplace, original floor and doors will be the kitchen. Off this is the livingroom, where we will put a Stuv fireplace insert into the thickness of the wall, shelves in the alcoves and, possibly expose the stone barrel vaulted ceiling. Off the livingroom there will be two bedrooms – one with a trullo cone ceiling, the other with a barrel vaulted ceiling and an ensuite bathroom in the room (not the existing bathroom!) The trullo bedroom will have an ensuite in the large room. From the outside door to the garden one will be able to access the fourth, largest bathroom and stairs up to what is currently a hayloft, which will become a fourth room with spectacular views. The detached building (which is in better condition than I originally thought) will become a large bedroom with ensuite bathroom.
You can see before and after floorplans for the main house here Cozzana_progetto_ground_floor_rev01_A3, the annexe here Cozzana_progetto_depandance_rev01_A3, and the rooftop room here. Cozzana_progetto_first_floor_rev01_A3
Outside there is a pizza/bread oven and a barbecue which will be restored. The two large olive trees give ample natural shade for dining, but there will also be an outdoors kitchen and a gazebo with comfortable seating at one end of the pool, as well as a sunbathing area. As you come down the drive there will be a large parking area to the left. Outside plans will be available very shortly. There are currently a number of pine trees which need to be cut down – some of these will be replaced by more attractive trees such as mimosa (evergreen, fabulously fragrant flowers in spring) and medlar (fragrant blossom, orange fruit). In the area where the pool will be, there are more olive trees a pomegranate and figs. There will be a herb garden next to the outdoor kitchen, elsewhere there will be flowering climbers and shrubs.
The house will sleep 8, up to 10 if extra beds are used in the annexe. Most of the year it is warm enough to sit outside (and there will be space heaters) and the indoors dining table will seat 8+ but the living room will be relatively small, so it will probably be most comfortable for 6 in the winter months and 8+ in spring, summer and autumn.
The house will be very comfortable, finished to a very high spec, very well equipped, and decorated and furnished in a clean, but still welcoming and warm, fashion. Ideas come up as one goes along with the work and I find that rooms and houses evolve. Often the original plan for a room will change based on furniture or lighting finds. To give you an idea here are two projects where I had more or less carte blanche on the interiors and exteriors respectively. bear in mind though that each project is different – what works for an elegant palazzo is not the same as for a countryside villa. Further down the line I will create a mood board for the house but that won’t be cast in stone either!
One thing is sure though – the kitchen will be really functional and well equipped, because I love to cook, and the garden redolent with colours, different forms and textures and fragrances. All bathrooms will have walk in showers, beds will be comfortable with high quality linens and somewhere there will be a fantastic bath!
The Villa is just outside Monopoli, at the beginning of an area where, historically, the noble or wealthy families of the area built spectacular summer houses – an exercise in competitive building – each more spectacular then the last. The nearest neighbour is Villa Carenza – but there are many other similar properties in the immediate area. The working name Villa Carezza for ‘our’ property came from a typo in a whatsapp message which made me smile – carezza means caress!
Bari airport is 62 kms away, Brindisi airport is 74 . The station is 6 kms from the villa, and there are lots of places to visit such as Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Locorotondo or Ostuni within a half hours drive. A wide selection of beaches to suit all tastes start at Monopoli and continue down the coast to Fasano. Monopoli has a good hospital and a train station with trains to Bari, Lecce and even Rome and places further North. There are some excellent restaurants and good shops, from those selling local produce to designer clothes and everything in between. There is a weekly market.
When I first came to Puglia, 16 years ago, Monopoli was very beautiful, somewhat shabby and completely undiscovered. Now it regular features in the press as a must-see destination, is very crowded and lively high season and the most sought after place to buy. The surrounding countryside is some of the most beautiful in Puglia, with secular olive trees, drystone walls and a carpet of wildflowers in the spring. Great to visit for a drink, good meal and some people watching, and ideal for families with older or grown up children – but nice to have a calmer location to retreat to. Off season it’s sleepy charm returns and you may have a beach to yourself, or almost…
You want a holiday home in Puglia, but prices are rising and you are not sure how much you will be able to use it. You could rent it out when you are not there but renting long distance is stressful. In any case you would like your holiday home to be of a high standard, but your budget doesn’t allow you to have what you would ideally want.
The beauty of fractional ownership is that you can own a share of a property that meets all your requirements and use it for main holidays but also shorter breaks (see How). If you are unable to use your allocated dates the property can be rented out for you by the same agency that will manage the property. Maintenance and running costs will be divided between the owners but ownership becomes hassle free when the property is looked after for you. Bills will be paid as they fall due and you will always arrive to a clean, warm (or cool!) house, with beds made up and, if you want, larder and fridge full.
Times are uncertain at the moment, but property in Puglia has continued to rise in value and the decrease in tourists coming to Puglia due to Covid has been more than compensated for by Italians taking staycations in ever increasing numbers. The advantage of fractional ownership, should your own personal circumstances change, is that it should be easier to sell shares quickly and for a good price than an entire luxury property.
Last but not least anyone investing in this project will make a good return on their investment – enabling buyers to have shares, benefit from using the property and/or rental income and, if and when they want to, sell their shares on at a profit.
A limited company will be formed initially with 90 shares (the others will be held by Vito Cisternino, who runs a large and well respected building company, Sinergie, and Raffaele Fonzo, a property investor who has worked with Vito before . They will also have 90 shares each. Once the property is restored the shares held by Vito and Raffaele will be sold to the limited company and then to the final owners of the property
Shares can be bought, pre purchase or at any point during the restoration though obviously the share price will go up as work progresses (see How much).
Once the property is fully restored, pool installed etc (we anticipate 6-8 months) shareholders will be people who actually want to use the house. As previously stated, I will aim for a mix of people – ie those who are tied to school holidays or not, those who want to escape the U.K winter and so on.
Very High season weeks (July and August) will be divided out amongst share holders as even those who might not want to travel then may want the rental income. Deals will almost certainly be done though – points will be allocated to weeks so that, for example, someone may be happy to forgo a week in July for two in May or October. The beauty of owning in Puglia is that the weather (except January!) is usually good and flights off season are often very cheap, so the possibility of being able to pop over for a long weekend, outside holiday periods is very appealing. Rather than aiming for lots of investors, I would rather have 4 or 6, maximum 8 in order for everyone to have a really good chunk of time available to them, or to rent out..
There will be a management agency who will look after the house, keep the calender, organise rentals where appropriate and prepare the house for owners when they visit or have rentals. Management fees and costs related to maintenance will be divided between share holders according to their shares. Bills, other than standing charges, will be divided between shareholders according to the number of days actually used, either personally or for rentals. I will do my best to keep costs down in the future, but it is difficult to get an idea of management and maintenance costs and bills before we have even started work. They will certainly be less than doing it on your own though!
Shareholders will get a weekly update on the progress of works. We have done detailed quotes and estimates and allowed margins for unforeseens so there shouldn’t be any extra costs other than those associated with stamp duty or capital gains.
The property purchase, associated fees and taxes and drawing up plans will cost around 200,000. The work, furnishings and fittings and necessary fees and paperwork for planning permission and changing land registry at the end of the process is 400.000, allowing a healthy margin for unforeseens.
For initial investors each share (equivalent to 1.35 days use) will be sold at 2500 euro. At the end of the project the property will be worth 800,000, giving a share price of 2962.96 and a return of 18.5% if any shares are sold at this point. There are a limited number of shares at this price, after which people can sign up for a share of the property at the end..
A detailed list of the work to be carried out, and associated quotes will be available for viewing at a later stage for those people who have demonstrated a serious interest.
The house purchase has to be completed by end of May this year. We are already drawing up the request for planning permission which can be presented in the current owners name at any point (part of our ‘compromesso’ agreement with the owners). Before the sale we have to demolish some outbuildings which were erected by the current owners without planning permission. The cost to us is less, as one of the existing investors has a building company and by offering to do this we won the bidding war – despite the fact that our offer was 20,000 less. The demolition will cost 8000 and is included in the 200,000 needed for purchase.
Work on the main house can be carried out without planning permission, as it comes under ‘extraordinary maintenance’. The volume is not changing and there is no heavy structural work. Work on the annexe, external area and installation of the pool requires planning permission, which takes up to 6 months.
In reality we can complete the purchase whenever we are ready. The work which doesn’t require planning permission can be done very quickly so the main house could be finished in 3-4 months. The whole project won’t take more than 8 or 9 – depending on planning permission.
Anyone who would like to come and view the property and explore the local area is welcome to do so before the7th of June or once work on the main house (but not annexe, pool and landscaping) is finished
If you would like to discuss the project or have any questions then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a whatsapp message on +393917982054 to arrange a time to speak.
Edit: Before we completed on the purchase of Villa Carezza one of the investors requested to buy the property for their own exclusive use. We have almost finished restoring the main house and are awaiting permission for the pool. Details to follow in a future post.