A Clever Route to Mortgage-Free Living
Susannah Shmurak writing on mortgage-free living…
Searching for our first house during a housing boom, we were astounded by the asking prices on all but the most decrepit, bland, and tiny homes.
We really wanted a home with historic details, but those were few and far between and way beyond our budget.
So when our real estate agent made an offhand comment about moving an old farmhouse that was about to be demolished, our ears perked up.
He took us to look at an abandoned but well-preserved 1910 house with unpainted woodwork, hardwood floors, and tons of space. It had a date with a wrecking ball because the land under it had been rezoned for commercial use.
As we peered in the dusty windows on the wrap-around porch, it slowly dawned on us that we might be the ones to rescue this beautiful building from an untimely end.
Weeks later, we were the proud owners of a free house. Well, almost free…to make it legally ours, we gave the developer one dollar so he could give us a bill of sale that showed we owned the house, though not the land it sat on. And it cost us around $15,000 to move it.
We had to find a location for our house, which we hoped would be walking distance to my husband’s new job.
There were no empty lots for sale, so we purchased a relatively affordable – but not very appealing – 1950s ranch house sitting on two lots. We lived in that house while we began renovating the other in preparation for the move.
A contractor built us a new foundation, which was a huge upgrade from the older homes we’d looked at. No leaky, cold limestone basement for us – we had spanking new insulated block to keep our basement much drier, cleaner, and warmer than you’d ever find in an older home.
Once the movers popped our house off its old foundation, it sat on a truck until move day when a police escort and workers from the utility company came to guide our new home to its new home three miles away in a charming neighborhood, which is a short walk away from work, shopping, and restaurants.
When all was said and done, we had a modernized, old farmhouse in a perfect location that cost perhaps a third of what we would have paid for a house similar in size and age without all the modern upgrades.
Our housing costs for buying the land and moving the house were far lower, giving us the freedom to install a state-of-the-art geothermal system and a new master bathroom in the spacious third-story bedroom.
Many years later, we’re thrilled to have so little debt. We love our walkable community, and we need our car very little because of our proximity to work and shopping.
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