Couple buy '€1' Italian townhouse and transform it into stunning holiday home
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A couple hit the jackpot after buying an abandoned Italian townhouse, starting at a bid of just one euro, and transforming into a stunning palazzo home worth $250,000.
Massoud and Shelley Ahmadi entered an auction in January 2019 to buy one of 16 abandoned houses in Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy.
Prices for the homes started at a symbolic one euro, but Massoud, 70, and Shelley, 60, wound up paying $10,500 (£8,400) for one of the homes - so not quite €1, but still an outrageous price for an Italian townhouse!
Inside, the house was rather rundown, with stained brown crumbling walls and rooms packed full of junk.
To many, this would seem like the dream fixer-upper project, but the pressure was on for Massoud and Shelley, who had been given a three-year deadline from the council to renovate the property.
“The house was uninhabitable and I couldn’t really fathom handling the project because it was beyond my pay grade," said Massoud.
But, in the end, it actually turned out even better than he was expecting.
"I look at before and after photos and it’s incredible," said the semi-retired economist.
“My architect did a fantastic job and when I walked in for the first time I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“It takes a lot of patience but the end result is something I’ll enjoy for years. It’s a Renaissance house."
While the two-bedroom, 250 square metre house underwent a lot of re-design, the couple decided to try and maintain its historic elements.
“The property was built originally 350 years ago so we kept a lot of the original stone walls, the original tiled floors and the double-barrelled ceilings," said Massoud.
“But the balance of the house is basically re-done and it gives you a mix of modern and historic.
“You see a glimmer of the past but also have the modern amenities, including an elevator.
“Everything from the kitchen cabinets to the marble floors was sourced locally from businesses in the village to maximise the economic impact."
The home also features three bathrooms, a living room and an open-plan marble kitchen, plus a roof terrace with mountain views.
They finally completed renovations in January 2022, and have since been splitting their time between Sambuca di Sicilia and their home in rural Montgomery County, Maryland.
Massoud estimates that the house is now worth at least $250,000.
"We have no plans to sell it but as far as the market is concerned, I bet someone would jump right into it for $250,000 because you can’t find a property similar to this with the views and all the village amenities for that price anywhere in Italy."
Plus, Massoud is already planning his next project.
After buying a neighbouring property, he plans to expand his Italian dream house, giving the couple room for four more bedrooms, a garage and a garden.