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."
i think she gets too much credit. people talk about what we could do if we try???
not everyone is given free things to sell for money, not everyone has somebody who will pay for half a house for them, not everyone has a real estate agent who will make sure everything is done legit without you getting screwed AND do it for FREE.
does this article mention who payed to have the house fixed up so they could rent it???
Once kids have memorized their tables, there is little they can not accomplish. Soon they are creating housing contracts using the formulii time, rate, interest and principal and can estimate
answers with out pencil and paper just by following each formula. If they know how to cancel they don't need a banker and in estimations can often get along without a calculator. This youngster is learning something even more important, how to get along with your parents.Hire her before she discovers tatoos.
I see a lot of commenters failed to read the entire story about this 14 year old GIRL, and her mother, who just happened to be a real estate agent.
As it was also stated in the article, the young lady, as a minor, cannot be "sole owner" of property in the state of Florida, thus her mother had to get involved.
I'm sure all the laws of that state were followed, to the letter, to avoid possible repercussions farther down the line.
Personally, I think this women has her head on straight, and has imparted some of her personal initiative to her daughter.
Good going Willow.
Good for her! She is learning responsibility & investment!
My son bought & sold vehicles at about that age. Made money on every one he had! Just have to look for the bargains & be able to do any necessary repairs!
Good job girl if that is what you wanted to do.
As a father I have never pushed my kids to grow up before they graduated. Always told them that was the time to enjoy your self as after school you have to WORK.
"Investing is really cool"
Good for her, hope she feels the same after she gets tangled up in the mess we call a tax code.
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.