House for $1 in Bay Area

15 Replies

Good evening BP,

A developer in my area (SF Bay Area) is selling a Victorian home for $1. The catch is the home needs to be moved to another lot and plans need to be approved by the city to place the house on the new lot. The house is a 3/1.5, 1350SF, and probably needs a total rehab. The lot I'm looking at is $195k. I would budget $150k for rehab. Homes in the area are selling for $650k and up.

I have a contractor and a lot lined up, but I don't I'm not sure how much it would cost to transport the house and if there are any finance companies that can help. Does anyone in the Bay Area have experience moving a house? Can someone give me a ballpark price for moving the home? Are their any finance options that would help with the move?

Have you called house movers to ask?

@Davon Blackwell   I have seen this done in other places.  If the house that is being moved is a good match to the new neighborhood the city is normally fine with the move.

Don't expect the move to be cheap.

The first step is to talk to movers to get a price and make sure it is possible to even get the house from one lot to the other.

@Davon Blackwell I looked into this a couple of years ago.  If it was a move within the same town and could be done in 1 day, it was $50,000.

Here in MA, I was told that the utilities had to move overhead wires at no cost to the house mover.  You might want to see if the same holds true in CA.  If not, that's going to add a lot of expense.

Charlie MacPherson, Real Estate Agent in MA (#9532146)
781-412-4151
I would assume the cost for moving can vary SUBSTANTIALLY depending on distance. The terrain could be trouble too (not to mention relocation of obstacles in the moving path). Not in my wheelhouse, that's for certain. Best of luck.

@SethBorman. Left a few messages with house moving companies.  No call back yet. I'l keep everyone posted.

Originally posted by @Davon Blackwell :

Good evening BP,

A developer in my area (SF Bay Area) is selling a Victorian home for $1. The catch is the home needs to be moved to another lot and plans need to be approved by the city to place the house on the new lot. The house is a 3/1.5, 1350SF, and probably needs a total rehab. The lot I'm looking at is $195k. I would budget $150k for rehab. Homes in the area are selling for $650k and up.

I have a contractor and a lot lined up, but I don't I'm not sure how much it would cost to transport the house and if there are any finance companies that can help. Does anyone in the Bay Area have experience moving a house? Can someone give me a ballpark price for moving the home? Are their any finance options that would help with the move?

 Hi Davon,

I looked into this extensively a few years ago and found exactly one loan processor in California (no idea who the LO was) who had done a single renovation loan that included the financed cost of moving the house from Point A and plopping it down on Point B (which was zoned residential and had historic utilities, etc, from a past home). So it's possible, and has been done.

In order for it to be a "renovation," something from an old house needs to remain on the land you are acquiring, such as the foundation. A scenario that might work would be a home that's burned down. 123 Main St burnt down, and you're "renovating" it by taking a random $1 house and plopping it down on the existing foundation. 

And, actually, now I just typed that... I realize I'm an idiot for not putting two and two together and previously (to this post) realizing what NorCal currently has a lot of... plots of land with foundations remaining from burned down homes. I even remember, years ago, saying to people "ya this is all great in theory with the $1 house and financing the relocation of it + hooking it up to utilities etc at the new location, but where are you going to find a bunch of residential plots of land with homes that have been burnt down selling at cost-effective price points?" 

And, thinking out loud more, a lot of built up urban areas being revitalized have these "$1 home, just take it away" deals on a not infrequent basis.

Maybe this needs to be a thing. Maybe Sonoma and Napa counties are going to be re-populated using Victorians from SF, Oakland, and the greater East Bay, that would otherwise get torn down by developers!!! The history nerd in me loves the idea of saving Victorians. Hell, stack FHA 203(h) "disaster relief" (if you lost the apartment you were renting, or your home that you own, to the fires) on top of FHA 203(k) reno and boom we're doing 0% down relocated Victorians left and right.

Chris Mason, Lender in CA (#1220177) and California (#1220177)
415-846-9211
Originally posted by @Davon Blackwell :

@SethBorman. Left a few messages with house moving companies.  No call back yet. I'l keep everyone posted.

 some hardcore googling gave me at best "around" 60k (probably for a short move) to "close to" 200k or more including a foundation.

I'd ballpark it, figure :
150k move

150-200k lot

50k site improvements

100k+? To get it repaired after move?

I did see one where they had to cut the house in half... 

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/10/26/hercules-seeking-takers-for-historic-home/

@Chris Mason I hate to burst your bubble, but you are not an idiot. There aren't a bunch of lots with foundations. Those foundations are in a pile almost 50 feet high next to highway 101 just south of Windsor. By the time the FEMA cleanup crews finish that pile will double. Only a few foundations remain, from the few owners that opted to do private cleanup and had their foundations tested.

That said, there are a lot of lots...but it might look weird having an old Victorian surrounded entirely by circa 2018 suburban homes.

Originally posted by @Brian Burke :

@Chris Mason I hate to burst your bubble, but you are not an idiot.  There aren’t a bunch of lots with foundations. Those foundations are in a pile almost 50 feet high next to highway 101 just south of Windsor. By the time the FEMA cleanup crews finish that pile will double. Only a few foundations remain, from the few owners that opted to do private cleanup and had their foundations tested.

That said, there are a lot of lots...but it might look weird having an old Victorian surrounded entirely by circa 2018 suburban homes.

 Ah, dang. I haven't been up to your area myself since the fires, thanks for the local knowledge. It didn't occur to me that they would tear the foundations out all willy nilly. Is this mostly what we can expect to see for sale?

That said, there are a lot of lots...but it might look weird having an old Victorian surrounded entirely by circa 2018 suburban homes.

To me that would be like having a classic muscle car parked in a neighborhood full of SUVs, if I were a car guy. :) The lady would be painted & I'd go nuts every Christmas.

Chris Mason, Lender in CA (#1220177) and California (#1220177)
415-846-9211

Ha!  Funny example, @Chris Mason .  That listing is by my brokerage. I’ve got a great Realtor in my office that handles the retail sales.  Funny coincidence. 

But yes, that’s what you’ll find. Small lots in the flats from the low to mid $100s to larger lots on the hill in the threes, or estate/view stuff even higher. There were a few listings in December but the flood gates opened after New Years. 

Wait - where is San Francisco do houses only cost $650k????

@Davon Blackwell I'm sure you know that after moving any house especially 100+ year old house and getting it set on a foundation and all hooked up the fun has only just begun. Lots of damaged plaster and structural issues. A house that has settled into it's foundation over time is all kinds of twisted fun. trying to straighten it out on a nice new foundation will break more stuff. once you decide to expose framing which you'll likely have to do at least partially you'll also have to bring it up to code with fire blocking and headers and such, and that's just the framing. The charm of old houses is the craftsmanship and proper renovation cost lots of dough. That 1 dollar house is going to cost 100s of thousands after all is said and done. if you're up to it, I say go for it because they don't build them like that anymore and never can or will. You'd be saving history. if your plan is to remodel it into a "new" house I'd say pass and build one, probably cost the same.
Just noticed the 150k rehab estimate... I can't imagine it being that cheap for a total rehab after move. I would seriously get a few bids on that. I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic. there are so many unknowns in a project like that, I would imagine anyone giving you an accurate estimate is selling a bag of sunshine

I just check on moving one but it was in Indianapolis, IN. The company said it would start at 150,000 to move it over 3 blocks

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