I bought my first home for just £14,000 – it looked like a BOMBSITE but now it's worth £150,000 two years on
A FIRST-TIME home buyer who was able to purchase her forever home for just £14,000 – less than the price of a car – has added a whopping £137,000 to the price of the property.
Betsy Sweeny, 29, from West Virginia, revealed to the Sun Online how she was able to increase the property's value to £150,000 in just two years after taking on the mammoth project.
The homeowner, who works historical preservation industry, spotted the derelict home whilst walking through the area in 2019 and set her sights on snapping it up.
The 18th-century house, in the city of Wheeling, was a complete shell with water damage and a leaking roof after having not been lived in for the last 30 years.
Betsy says buying the dilapidated building and doing much of the work herself has enabled her to live in her dream home – and she recommends others should do the same.
Betsy said: "It was a crazy time, looking back on it I can't believe I thought buying a falling-down house was a good idea during a pandemic.
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"I wanted a project and I was in my late twenties so didn't have a ton of money to bring to the table, so I was looking for something that I could afford.
"The house was in terrible shape but all in I spent less than $150,000 (£114,000) and I have a huge house, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, much larger and more beautiful than anything you could get for $150,000 new here.
"It was fall of 2019, when I first saw the house, I wondered 'is that available?' or even if I could find the owner.
"I did some inquiring and was able to get in contact with the owner, who lived out of town, I met with them and saw the house, and spent the start of 2020 trying to put a finance plan together to purchase the property in the middle of the pandemic.
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"I bought it for $18,500(£13,000)… it's extraordinarily cheap, cheaper than a car."
HOME SWEET HOME
The home, built in the 18th century by a wealthy ophthalmologist for his family, was passed down through the generations before eventually being saved from demolition by a couple.
Betsy was able to view the house after hunting down the pair and used savings whilst cashing in a retirement fund to purchase.
She was drawn to the property's historic features and character from the Victorian fireplace to the stunning dark wood staircase – all of which have now been lovingly restored.
"The house had a little yard and a large plot with it and some many of its original features still intact…on the flip side it had been abandoned for 30 years, it was in pretty bad shape," said Betsy.
"It was a very tight budget, that was with me being a professional in the industry, knowing exactly how these projects go, and doing a lot of the work myself."
She was then able to get a $125,000 (£96,000) construction loan to help make the home liveable whilst also paying the bills on her apartment nearby.
But says she had to scrimp and save to make her dream a reality – giving up nights out and shopping trips.
The building has now been given a new lease of life after Betsy and her boyfriend spent countless hours lovingly rebuilding the home.
She said: "The upside to the pandemic was that for the first time in my life my calendar was wiped clean, fortunately I got to keep my job but I was working from home so that was all I had to do.
"I would get up at 5am go over and work on the house until 10.30am, go back to my apartment and work my job and head back to the house at 4pm and work until 9pm.
"I and was able to make my schedule work and spend a lot of man-hours there.
"My boyfriend and I, from May 2020 to thanksgiving that year, were in a manlift rebuilding the back of the house, brick by brick, day by day until it was secure.
"You either have time and expertise or you need a significant amount of money.
"Yes, you do have to spend a lot of money but you have to compare that cost to what a ready-made house would cost you otherwise.
"The pitfall is that people think they can buy a house for $20k thinking and make it liveable for $50,000(£38,000) – that is not realistic, you need to look at the value of the whole house.
"Expect to put at least $100,000(£76,000) into it, everyone wants to get a deal…but the end result is something that you couldn't even dream of getting on the market today.
Betsy now hopes to continue working on her new home with plans to renovate the kitchen this summer after the house was valued at £202,000(£153,691).
She said: "It's absolutely better to buy old and fix up than buying new.
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"The quality of these old homes, even when they are in bad shape, the materials they are made out of are irreplaceable. You just cannot get that that in the modern-day.
"It was better [buying the house] than I could have ever expected, I never lived in a big house, I love it now. I love the high ceilings and it feels luxurious."
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