“Free” House with a catch. How can I make this work?

6 Replies

Free House. Not something we hear all that often. I ran across this story and am racking my brain on how I can make this a win-win deal for everyone involved. Long story short- there is a historic (1870’s) home that a nearby city in Wisconsin needs moved to make room for a library parking lot expansion. The house is free, but the “buyer” needs to pay to move the house off the lot by July 31st. I believe that the city is even offering a free lot for the home to be moved to, but I cannot confirm that at this time. I know that moving a completely intact house is very expensive. Just think of all the power lines in the way. Not to mention all of the permits needed to travel with a house on a trailer. Then there is the costs involved with getting it set on a foundation on a lot and hooked up to services. Has anyone ever done something like this successfully? Is it even worth all of the work needed? From the photos I have seen, I believe they may have the home set up as a three family, due to three gas meters in one of the photos I saw. So what do you think about this BP???? Here is a link to the news story they had on the home: http://fox6now.com/2018/03/25/theres-not-another-house-thats-like-it-and-it-could-be-yours-for-free-but-theres-a-catch/amp/

Ok so this isn't exactly a free house. People do give houses away sometimes, but this once comes with some costs.  You need to determine a few things here. First, where will this house be placed?  The value of this house will vary greatly if you put it in a war zone vs a hot market.  So the landing spot will go a long way to determining value.  Start with value.

After value, you need to figure out costs.  There may be a lot that the city is offering, maybe not. Answer that question first. Then, no matter what that answer is, start shopping for lots.  This is spread sheet territory.  You will need to make an array of lot costs and land values to see best location to drop this house. Then you will need to contact a freight company, actually many. You need to determine who actually has the ability to move this thing.  Then ask them what this will cost. Big variable here.

Lastly, you need an excavator.  The cost to dig a foundation will be large.  Make sure they dig a big trench to connect water, sewer, etc.

I have a feeling that the effort and cost will scare off most people. There may still be a bargain to be had here, but you have a lot of research ahead of you.

You will also need to account for after move repairs. That is an X factor that you can't really predict.  Expect to have some wall cracking and maybe even a structural issue to deal with.

In my opinion, I would treat this as an academic exercise.  There are a lot easier ways to get a house.  Free houses come when you market to the owners of abandoned houses.  This one could be a booby trap.

To your success


There is a guy by Green Lake that does a bunch of these, he got like 20 homes when a Highway went through, he made bank, dropping them on lots and rehabbing them, but you will need to carry the expense for a while. good luck!

I've seen something similar in Shakopee MN.  It was a historic brick house.  I considered it but figured it wasn't worth it in the end even though I had an idea on where to put it.  

The other part of it that you need to take into consideration is all of the costs it will take to renovate it as well.  The house I looked at needed a lot of work in addition to being moved which is why it ended up being torn down anyways.

As soon as you mentioned "historic" the property became a money pit. Historic properties should be avoided due to the e extremely restrictive regulations that will drive up any renovation costs.

Walk away. If the historical society does not want it neither should anyone else. It should probably be bulldozed.

Great comments from everyone!  As with everything, if you are interested in it do your due diligence. Find out what the city is offering (from the city offering it), find out what the moving costs would be (from a company licensed to move homes), etc, etc, etc.  Note that in parentheses I am stressing to ask the decision makers. Too often I see people asking everyone except the individuals or company who can give you a real answer. 

I too am interested in these homes and I keep my eyes open just in case! Good luck and please post an update so we know what you've found and what you decided to do!

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