Mugeba revisited

Let's buy a house in Istria (part 2)

We started house hunting for another rental property in Istria, in late December 2010. After only our first afternoon’s viewing, it looked as if we’d found a great possibility. Would I be as enthusiastic second time around when I returned with a builder?

What’s gone before | The hunt begins


house-edited-1When I first visited the cottage in Mugeba, I thought it looked perfect. Thinking about it over Christmas, doubts began to set in, so I was rather nervous when I drove up to view it again with Miro, a local builder.

Relief! First impressions were even better, as today the sun was shining. Trying to be hard-hearted and practically-minded, I looked round the house and had to admit, it wasn’t perfect. It was a 7m by 4m two-storey house with single storey extensions on either side. The current layout had a single large bedroom upstairs. Below was the living room and kitchen, with the entry hall and bathroom on one side and another room – which had been the village’s communal oven many years ago! – on the other side.upstairs

Thinking about this house over Christmas, I decided we should be able to squeeze in three bedrooms and two bathrooms. ‘Squeeze’ was definitely the appropriate word. As the whole house was only 70m2, all the rooms were going to be very small. With two of the bedrooms upstairs and both bathrooms downstairs, the layout was also far from ideal. But what did we expect for our money?

kitchenMiro had a good look around and was very impressed with the house. It was just the sort of place he would like to buy, he said, if only he had the money. Without an in-depth look, he couldn’t give me an exact price, but he was fairly confident the work should cost €25,000 – €30,000. Good news – about what I’d expected.

So while not perfect, the house was extremely good value, attractive and fantastically close to the sea. It was structurally sound and shouldn’t cost too much to renovate. When it was finished and a pool was installed, it should rent extremely well. I was ready to make an offer.

old-oven“Hang on” said the wiser head again. “If we’re serious, let’s do this properly and that means not buying the first place we see. We don’t even know what type of property will give us the best yield and return on our investment.” (He speaks accountant from time to time).

side-room“Good idea,” I replied, while really thinking, “what a total waste of time. We won’t find anything better”. But I’m a good girl, so I did the research, looking on-line at the different rental rates for varying sized houses, with and without swimming pools, across Istria.

It quickly became clear our best option would be a three-bedroom house with a pool. Exactly what I had in mind for the Mugeba cottage, I thought smugly, while trying to ignore my growing concern about its size (all the other three-bedroom houses I’d looked at on-line were much larger). “Oh well,” I thought, “if we price it right, hopefully being close to the sea will offset its size. Cottages are meant to be small, after-all.”

gardenNext I had a look on-line to see what else was on offer to buy in our price range and area. As I suspected there wasn’t much, but I found two. Another agent we know, Karlo Mates of Habito, had them both on his books. They didn’t look great, but maybe we should go and see them.

parkingThen Azra threw in something we just hadn’t considered. “Does it have to be a house?” she asked. “There are other good opportunities around, such as developments where builders have over-extended themselves. With the market crash, they’re now selling off unfinished projects at cut-down prices, to cover their debts. There’s one for five apartments in the centre of old Pula which I think is a really good deal. Are you interested?”

Were we interested in becoming property developers, or did we want to stay with a simple rental cottage? Did we go and look at Karlo’s properties or did we simply make an offer on Mugeba? The tale continues with Property developers extraordinaire.


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