14-year-old buys distressed house for $13,000
The Florida teenager earned the money by selling items salvaged from foreclosed homes. With her share of the $700-per-month rent, she may buy a second home.
In 14-year-old Willow Tufano's neighborhood, the real-estate crisis has meant living surrounded by vacant homes, in the foreclosure epicenter of Florida.
It has also meant a chance to earn some real money, selling items no one wants out of foreclosed homes handled by her real-estate agent mother.
Now, Willow has become a landlord, after buying her first house for $13,000.
Her two-bedroom, one-bath home is in Port Charlotte, Fla., where property is worth about one-third of what it was at the peak. CNN Money picked Port Charlotte, a town on Florida's Gulf Coast with a population of about 48,000, as one of the best places to retire in 2009. At that time, the average three-bedroom house cost about $170,000.
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Willow's house is modest, just 679 square feet, built in 1959 of concrete block, as most Florida houses are. You can see what the house looked like when she bought it here.
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"There was glass everywhere. There was a dirty couch tipped over," she told NPR. "Nothing was worth anything. It was like there was a riot or something."
Minors can't own real estate in Florida, so Willow bought the house with her mother, Shannon Moore, who paid for half. Willow hopes to buy out her mother by the time she's 18. She may even buy another house.
Willow's house last sold for $28,500 in 1987. We don't know what it would have sold for at the peak of the market in 2006, but Zillow's estimate is $85,000. The county assessed the house last year at $17,815.
There are 281 homes listed for sale in the same ZIP code, at prices ranging from $17,000 to $2.89 million. Port Charlotte is about 35 miles north of the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area, which suffered one of the biggest drops in home values in the nation.
After cleaning up the home with help from her family, the teenage entrepreneur rented it to a young couple and their baby for $700 a month, which she splits with her mother.
Willow, who is home-schooled, says she is not sure she wants to follow her mother and grandmother into real-estate sales. But she likes being an investor.
"Investing is really cool," she told Susanna Kim at the ABC News Consumer Reports blog. "You get to see a property that was a mess before and afterward see that it’s beautiful."
All I can say is Well don! If there is one thing I know, children are not educated on making money at school, so it’s left up to them to find out; help and knowledge from a parent goes a long way.
They are not the theives, the theives are the people got a mortgage on the house, watched as the value plummeted and decided it would be easier to just stop making payments, walk away, and let the bank hold the bag for what they owed on it. THAT is the real crime here. The bank is the one that loses, the previous owners don't lose, yea it will wreck their credit, but like a lot of other Americans if they were willing to walk away from their mortgage they probably are up to their eyeballs in credit card debt too, so you can't hurt credit if it is already ruined.
They are in one of the most affected areas for real estate, possibly in the whole country, the west coast of florida got hit very hard, by both hurricane damage, and over estimation of how many people would buy property there to retire. As such the supply is much higher than demand, and deals are to be had. Those who have money get the deals. If you knew anyone who ever went through even a fraction what you are suggesting these woman supposedly deserve in your disgusting closeing sentence you wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy.
Hiaperture - I don't care what your job is, if you can't find a way to save up $13,000, even over a period of years, you don't manage you money well.
She's 14. What is the age that a kid is legally allowed to work at? When I was a kid, I got a paper round at 13. My mother had to get it in her name (and let me deliver them) because I wasn't legally allowed. At 14 I got my own at the local store.
Lets say a kid earns $10 an hour at a part time job. I think that's more than reasonable! If she had $6,500 to put down on the house (says she paid half, doesn't it?) then she would have had to have worked 650 hours. That's 12 and a half hours a week over a year. And that's saving everything, without spending a penny on anything else whatsoever.
You say a couple of trips to home depot, a little hard work... in the photo above there is no door frame and no ceiling. Putting drywall up on the ceiling is not "a little hard work". I know, I've been renovating my own home for a while now. It's not something she would have been able to do herself. It's also not cheap if you pay for someone else to do it. So either she's had more $ assistance than the half she paid for the house, or a heck of a lot of help working on it herself.
What I'm suggesting is that she has had a LOT of help here. It's only through her connections (mother being a real estate agent) that she's been able. Fair play to her for doing this, and for spending the money on it instead of a new x-box, etc, but it also goes to show how important the right connections are. Hard work is not everything. I am sure there are lots of kids out there who work hard/er, but never get this kind of opportunity. I think that's why some of the snarky comments.
scott fisher- i hope when you accomplish something with someone's help, and someone congratulates you, that you tell them "i didn't do it. i couldv'e done it, but since someone helped me, i deserve zero credit"
you must be a very sad individual if you believe that every once in a while, when something good happens in someone else's life, we should all disregard it and move on. but you made it a point to get on here and put down what this girl thought was an accomplishment. and THAT is the kind of thinking that is screwing this country up!
I was impressed with this girl when she was on NPR the other day. Granted, she had help, but still, it is nice to see that other people are taking advantage of the market. I bought my house my first house when I was 19, and I thought that was impressive! Then again, mine didnt cost $13k. If this girl keeps this up, she should have no problems paying for school later on or having the extra cash to have the flexibility to do whatever she would like to.
So Nid - if a minor walked up to you with 100K - you wouldn't take it because they were young and it paid off your bill? She didn't FINANCE - she BOUGHT it. That's ok, you walk around wondering - I'll take the 100k.
Some of you guys need to learn the laws you think you know and you need to learn the lesson the kid is learning. She's doing more then half the adults I know, that's sad and says a lot.
Scott, if you expect life to be totally fair, and no one to experience success because of "advantages" they do or do not have, then you are being highly unrealistic. Whether you like it or not, the old saying "it is not what you know it is who you know" tends to carry more wieght than one might want. Now whether you take that advantage and turn it into a success or not, that is all on you. Rarely does anyone acheieve any level of success in life without needing help from someone else along the way.
There is a big difference between being given some assitance in finding your way to success, and being born into billions of dollars and never having to work a day of your life or for your children and their children for generations to come. And even then, someone made that money, whether you think it is fair that their kids get access to it or not doesn't matter.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.