If you live in a city, there’s a reasonable chance you’re also living in a housing crisis. In London, for example, you’d be lucky to snap up a high-end garage for £1m, especially if it’s in the catchment area of a good school.
But if you’re desperate and willing to up sticks to the other side of the world, there are still some pretty cheap options. In the Californian city of Redwood, a house could soon be on the market for $1. No, we haven’t left off the zeroes. One dollar.
It’s small – one storey, and there’s only a postage stamp-sized lawn outside. The city council also admits it “needs repairs”. But it’s a real, Victorian, house, built in around 1900, and the city council are planning to sell it for $1. Here’s a side view, to prove it’s not just a facade:
Here’s the catch (yes, there’s always a catch). You get the house for a buck. But you don’t get the rights to the land that it’s sitting on.
The low price is due to a quirk in the Redwood planning policy. D-listed houses – those “protected by planning law, but only up to a point” – can be demolished to make way for new developments, provided that attempts have been made to relocate the structure. What this means is that you can buy the house – but you then have to find some land to put it on, and work out a way of getting it there.
The Redwood bungalow will probably go on the market for about 90 days before it’s demolished and replaced with a seven-story apartment building (the city council will make their final decision when the apartment block gets planning permission). So you’ve got about three months to pack up your things and buy up a corner of a nearby field.
Insanely cheap housing isn’t as rare as one might think, either. In Detroit, there are numerous houses on sale for $1 – but there, you often take on unpaid gas and electricity bills, too. Not quite as good a deal.