Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guardia Sanframondi: Part 4 - Houses!

Ok, Good, So What is Your Budget?

Part 1 - Getting There
Part 2 - Around Town
Part 3 - Good Eats!

During our visit to Guardia Sanframondi we looked at several houses ranging in price from €6,000 to €37,000. Of the group, only the €6,000 house required a full restoration - all the others were livable or nearly so, needing only a thorough cleaning and in a couple cases updated electrical wiring.

House #1

House #1 - Third Floor Center
So here we go! House #1 is a 3rd floor flat on the square opposite Chiesa di San Rocco. Asking Price €27,000.

Chiesa di San Rocco
As you can see from the pictures, it's in pretty darn good shape. There are water stains on the old wall paper  in the front room (sorry, I farked the picture twice) reportedly from condensation - not too surprising in an apartment that's been closed up for several years. We'd peel the wall paper and paint anyway.

It's currently divided into four rooms which could be recombined into two quite large ones. There's a little balcony and an attic that could be converted into a really nice terrace. And there are neat old floor tiles.
House #1 View
It needs a decent amount of work including updated electricity and a full bathroom. It's in a great location and the views are wonderful.

House #1 would have been at the top of our list but for the fact that it's on the third floor - the stairs were just too much for our creaky American knees.

House #2

The View!
Main Entrance Another Entrance
First Kitchen & Fireplace
Cantina #1 - No Spiders!
House #2 was way over budget at (if I remember correctly) €37,000. But it was spectacular. It is perfectly livable (with the addition of a new kitchen as is typical). It has modern electricity and plumbing. It's actually two family apartments combined into one quirky home. It has two big cantinas. One's the normal space for storing random junk but the other is equipped with plumbing and electricity and is large enough to create a little studio apartment (which would be illegal, unfortunately).

House #3

House #3 €25,000. Bingo! Completely renovated and furnished, with a real modern kitchen, a great location adjacent to the old convent (which is being transformed into a luxury spa), nice views, and a wonderful family across the via Costarella. It has a large cantina that could easily be converted into a garage for an Italian sized car. If we'd had €25,000 to spend we would have closed on this one immediately.
Standing in the Kitchen door - Bath on the left Oh Yeah! A Modern Kitchen!
The Old Convent & Vineyard Pink Bedroom

Alley and Cantina Entrances

House # 4

Now that's a Front Door

House #4 €20,000 and right next door to #3. We felt it was a bit better laid out for American tastes than #3, but it also needs a good deal of work. The plumbing appears solid (but could use a larger capacity water heater) with a nice bathroom but the electricity, while recent, would need upgrading for our lifestyle.

Ground Floor Front Room Ground Floor Back Room
Full Bath with a Real Bathtub! & More Pink
Upper Level - Fireplace and Wood Oven Upper Level Bedroom
It's a little odd to have the kitchen on the second floor but in many cases the ground floor of these old houses was meant for animals or storage so it's understandable. The big selling point for us is the kitchen. It's plenty big, with enough room for American style appliances and it has a wood oven for bread making.

We actually explored the possibility of buying #4. The owner (very reasonably) wanted about 35% up front so we stuck with our original plan for the trip - scope out the town and what's available, then come back with money this time next year.

House #5

House #5 is the €6,000 mini-casa. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures for this one but I'll try to describe it. It consists of three small, close to square, rooms. On the ground floor is a cantina (full of spiders) that could finished and connected to the two upper rooms. There's a little terrace in front of the door and a garden that while technically not part of the house has been used by the present owner for years.

The first and second floor rooms are connected by an internal stairway and there's a little balcony off the upper level. While it's not a ruin, this little place needs everything and it's small - maybe 30 sq. meters total. It could be a nice hide-away for a writer or other artist with the time and/or money to fix it up.

Some Thoughts

First! Don't bug Clare about these places. She's an artist, not a real estate agent. She might be able to help you but not for free. If you're staying at the ArtHouse you must work that stuff out in advance with her.

There's lots of renovation going on in Guardia and it's easy to get the feeling that all the good places will be gone if you don't act quickly. While some of the really spectacular places have been snapped up, there are still plenty of places with "Vendesi" signs stuck to their doors.

Plan to pay cash but know that payment plans can be worked out with the owner of your chosen house. Each deal is different so there's no point in going into detail except that it seems much more flexible than buying a home here in the US.

What We're Going To Do Next

Now that we have a better idea of what's available we're staying in touch with a couple of folks Clare hooked us up with and we'll be touching base with some of the other Americans who've bought into Guardia. We probably won't make another trip until this time next year (when we'll have a nice pile of money saved up). Unless...


  1. Unless... we win big in Las Vegas this summer!

  2. Hi! I stayed with Clare in December and January. Here's the blog of another American who visited a couple of months earlier and bought a place in the Centro Storico.

  3. Hi William! Joe texted me about your blog updates last night. They're great! Feel free to contact me about my house buying experience in Guardia! I had a fantastic experience, too. I've become very good friends with the Americans who have bought there as well (we now visit each other here in the states, too), and I'm in touch with the Guardiese almost daily. It's a growing community / family. I hope to meet you soon. All the best wishes! Laurie

  4. Hi,were there houses below 20000 euros that are habitable? I thought the first house that's in the 3rd floor is in very good condition. But of course, if the steps are too steep it's not going to work for us. My husband just had a knee surgery. I hope, that if we ever do find a house... we can be neighbors. My husband and I really enjoyed reading your blog and I think that you are a very nice guy and funny as well.:)

    1. The apartment on the 3rd floor had extremely steep stairs. House #4 was definitely liveable - I'd say the €20,000 price point is pretty much where "liveable" starts and "nice" starts about €25,000.

      If you've been watching House Hunters International you probably already know that even a liveable place will likely need trip to Ikea for a new kitchen. And except for House #2 they all needed a modern security door right away and modern windows as soon as one's budget would permit.

      Guardia is (obviously) built on a (small) mountain so be prepared for lots of up and down walking on cobblestones. Take it easy and you'll be OK.

      Good luck!

  5. Hi Will, I have booked our tickets and getting close to seeing GS. I would just like to know if La Meridiana is a walking distance from the Tana dell Orso B&B. We decided not to rent a car and are getting picked up from the airport. Thanks

  6. It's a longish walk by Guardia standards, but doable, even in the rain. You can "walk" it on Google Maps to get an idea of the distance:
    The stairs on the left side of that link lead down to La Meridiana. If you walk along in the direction you're pointed you come to the Orso's bar/B&B in about 14 clicks. Bear right when you come to Piazza Castello, btw.

  7. Bill, is it alright if I share the pictures that you took of my house? Thanks :)

    1. Sure thing!

      How did your husband's knee hold up?

    2. It was fine. He was taking glucosamine and he said it was not as bad as he envisioned it. My legs were hurting the following day but it got better after a few days. :)

  8. Since watching that episode of House hunters, I can't get that place out of my mind....I'd love any information who I'd need to contact to buy a house there. I'm ready to commit.

    1. I was there over a year ago and things have changed. You can try contacting this blogger who's much more current than I:

      You can also get in touch the Orso family: who can put you in touch with sellers. There are no real estate agents - it's all person to person.

    2. I bought my property a year ago with the help of the local realtors...they've been around for 3 generations!! Ask for Silvio Capocefalo when you arrive.

  9. Replies
    1. Not yet, though we've been back to Italy a couple times since 2013. We have tentative plans to look at some other areas early next year after I retire :-)



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