09 March 2009

$100 or $9000 House

It caught your eye, too. Yesterday's Op-Ed in the Times: "For Sale: The $100 House." Admittedly, there is opportunity for urban legend here but there's also something appealing about the thought of creating new communities from "next to nothing." And houses in Detroit ranging from $100 to $1,900 qualify for that descriptor.

Cheap housing is always at hand, of course, even in good times. Location—geographic location—is the crucial factor. Sometime around the year 2002, my sister took me to see the new home of a young friend in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was the $9,000 house.

Imagine a studio apartment free-standing, stucco on the outside, and the lawn consisting of a strip of grass between the house porch (yes, it had a porch) and the driveway (yes, it had a driveway).

My sister and I admired the existence of such a domicile and cheered for the young people who actually knew how to do the plumbing that the old bungalow required. We should all be so resourceful.

For boomers who can appreciate the history: our first home in 1979 (DFW metroplex) cost $48,000 for a conventional starter 3/2/2. Our third home in 1989 (marking a return to the DFW metroplex) was a better 4/3/2 for the modest cost of $85,000. We told realtors we wanted to see only houses that had been foreclosed upon. We were making a post-lay-off move and wanted to contain our costs to the greatest extent possible. In that season, foreclosures were available but had to be "located" and we had to be firm with realtors that we wouldn't look at any other type of house. Several years later, a friend told me that all the neighbors were tracking our purchase of that house. They were anguished that a house was being purchased below the six-figure mark. There was discussion about what kind of people we might be. The woman next door to us was quoted as saying, "Well, they have a minivan."

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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