An Expert’s Advice on Flipping Historic Houses into Apartments in Gainesville, FL

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 03 May 2016 12:05

With the rise in development of expensive luxury apartments, many companies have found a very profitable niche which is currently underserved: renters searching for historic apartments.  These apartments are in demand for several reasons. First, historic apartments generally boasts charm and personality, both inside the apartment and around the apartment buildings. Second, they are often less expensive than their brand new counterparts. 


While working for Trimark Properties, which specializes in the renovation and rental of historic apartments in Gainesville FL, I’ve learned that this can be a very profitable niche for property management companies. The apartments themselves exude historic charm, affordability, and convenience; in our market, these apartments are located near the University of Florida and Sorority Row. In Gainesville, there’s a clear divide between the population driving demand for luxury apartments near Sorority Row UF and the population searching for historic Gainesville apartments. Therefore, Trimark has worked diligently to expand its portfolio into both markets. 

Today, more reality TV shows are showcasing older homes and apartments, along with the renovations that they undergo. Apartments with hardwood floors, landscaped courtyards with brick pavers, and historic interior design features are in high demand, and as demand rises, so do rents. 

Landlords and apartment leasing companies can often purchase historic properties that are in need of repair or renovation, and by flipping these into apartment rentals, can often make a hefty profit. If you are considering breaking into this market, here are some tips from an industry leader who has won many awards for their apartment renovation work.

Historic apartment in Gainesville, before renovation and conversion to rental.


Historic apartment in Gainesville, before renovation and conversion to rental. 

Historic apartment in Gainesville, after renovation and conversion to rental.


Historic apartment in Gainesville, after renovation and conversion to rental.


  •  Renovate the kitchen. Keeping historic details like a farmhouse style sink is okay, but retiling the flooring and/or backsplash will update the room immensely.
  • Re-caulk the windows in the living room, bedroom, and bathrooms. Older apartments that haven’t been sealed in years could be letting in cool and hot air, sometimes doubling air conditioning bills. You also could be letting in a lot of outside bugs. 
  • Add closet space. Older homes and apartments may not even have closet space in every room. This could make or break a lease signing. Everyone wonders where they will put all their stuff once they move in. If there isn’t much room, built-ins could be a good option, as they are space savers, too.
  • Polish hardwood flooring. After a while, wood flooring loses its luster; by polishing them, they look new and fully restored--- plus, they are less likely to be damaged by a renter.
  •  Exterior and landscaping is on the list, too. Updating the exterior, such as repainting and adding flowers, can change the whole appearance of the apartment building. Make it feel inviting on first glance; first impressions are everything.
  • Consider updating the coax cable and internet lines in the house, to allow the tenants to utilize high speed Ethernet and modern cable service.
  • Update mini-blinds and other details. We recommend using plantation blinds, which are less likely to be damaged than inexpensive metal or plastic blinds, especially in high traffic areas like the living room and bedroom.
  • Provide apartment signage on the outside that identifies how the renter can contact your company. In high demand areas near universities and job centers, many potential renters will drive around and look for rental signs, when they are looking to move.


  • Don’t lose the historic details. This could be unique hardware (if salvageable), sconces, or detailed railings on the staircases. These are the types of elements that make a home unique.
  • Don’t automatically make an old fireplace functional. Many old historic houses and apartments have a fireplace in the living room. Consider whether or not to make the fireplace operational. Operational fireplaces can lead to fires if mishandled by a renter, but a decorative fireplace is till a great focal point. Rethink its functionality if you’re renting to a population that doesn’t have much experience in using fireplaces (such as in the deep south, where it’s often too warm to use, and many newer houses do not have them).
  • Don’t replace hardwood floors in the living room, if you don’t have to. The wood floors may look old or damaged, but consider hiring a wood floor expert and refinishing the floors. While you can often get away with converting bedroom flooring from wood to carpet without impacting rent, hardwood flooring in the living room can drive up rents! Part of the charm in a historic apartments is having hardwood flooring. While many people like carpeting, many may be seeking hardwood flooring when searching for a historical apartment or house.
  • Don’t over-modernize. In a time when apartments have the best technology and amenities available, it’s important to take tech amenities into consideration when converting a historic house into an apartment rental. But many of these amenities and features are trends that will not yield a long term return on investment. So skip the non-necessary amenities that don’t add value.

Thanks to popular TV shows like Flip this House or House Hunters on HGTV, the demand for historic apartments is on the rise. These do’s and don’ts are a guideline for renovation ideas for landlords and property management companies. Have your own success story about converting a historic house into a rental? Let us know! We’d love to include your ideas in future posts. 


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