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Young Kate's Success Story

by Kate Entner, age 11, Harrisburg, PA, (As told to my Dad)   

I just sold my first house today for all cash. Some people had been living in the house, but moved out before the sale. They were kind enough to lock the door, too, but we didn't have a key. There was a real estate company for sale sign on the property, so my mom called the broker and asked about the house and the key.

They had the house for sale for $20,000. The broker had the keys, so we were able to get the keys and get into the house without calling a locksmith. He said that the owners owed about $15,000. The tax sale wiped out the liens, back taxes, and all the municipal water, sewer, and trash bills. The back taxes owed were $4,312.32 and the municipal liens were $6,112.51.

My dad found out about this house being for sale, helping me find the house and he lent me the money to buy it. I paid $200. I bought the house at tax sale. There were no other bids and $200 is the least amount you can pay. So I bought the house for $200, and all the debts were wiped out. It's something called "free and clear," but it wasn't free, I paid $200!

The house is brick and has five bedrooms. The people who were living there just left and forgot a whole bunch of neat stuff. There were two bicycles, a camping lantern, and a really cool flashlight. I kept this stuff, and I am giving one of the bikes to my mom and the flashlight to my dad. There were other things there too including kerosene heaters and fans and some tools. There was also some wood and stuff for fixing up the house. And there was also a bunch of junk and trash.

My dad said the house was in livable condition, since people were living there, but my mom said that she wouldn't live there. We hired some men to help clean out the house and haul the trash away. There was one truckload of steel and other metal things that went to the scrap yard to be recycled. And there were three truckloads of stuff that went to the dump.

One of the guys that was hauling the trash knew the people who lived here. He said that they won the lottery, not a million dollars or anything like that, maybe $50,000 or $30,000. He said that they bought a new car and spent some money on the house themselves.

They left their stove and refrigerator in the house. my Dad said, "Don't open the refrigerator." But my cousin Andrew didn't listen and he opened it. Boy did it smell really bad. I told him to close it fast. There was stinky rotten food in there. I never opened the refrigerator ever again.

My dad appealed the real estate assessment and got the taxes lowered from $608.49 to only $8.58 for a whole year. He's really good at lowering the taxes. He said that I have to keep expenses low, so that I can make some money. He said that it's not only the price you pay and price you sell for but also what it costs you while you own it. Also we were able to tell new buyers that the taxes were super low. Most people didn't believe how low the taxes were, until we showed them the tax receipts.

The people before had put in something called 200-amp electrical service, whatever that is. My dad said that that is something we should tell all the buyers, so that they would buy it. And they put a new roof on the house. We found a building permit from them when we cleaned out the house. The house still needs a lot a work.

My friend, Fedora was going to move into the house and fix it up and paint it while she lived there. She's a very good painter and has worked as a professional painter. The idea was that I would buy a house for Fedora to live and she would pay rent and fix it up. I like renting a house better than selling a house, because you get a lot more money from renting than from just selling. When you rent, you get a check every month forever. When you sell you only get one check.

I like getting a check every month better than just one check. Dad said that I must have read a book by Lonnie Scruggs. But I didn't. I told Fedora that one of the first things that I wanted her to do was paint the front door, either red or white. I think that's an important thing to do first. She was going to fix up the first floor for her to live and leave the second floor for later.

My parents replaced a furnace and water heater at their house and gave me their old oil furnace and electric hot water heater for free for my house. They have been helping me a lot.

It ended up that Fedora did not move here, so the plan didn't happen like I thought it would. I wanted to rent the house, but needed to fix it up in order to get it into good renting shape. I didn't want to sell because like I said I like getting those checks every month. But we put an ad in the newspaper to sell.

We got about 40 phone calls. 36 people left their names and phone number. We gave people directions and told them to go look themselves and call back if interested. We showed it to three serious buyers, and sold it to the first buyer to offer all cash. Some of the callers wanted us to finance, but we would rather have cash. There would have been more offers if we didn't want all cash. The ad said "Five-bedroom brick house, new roof, new 200 amp electric service $4,900."

Well, we had what they call a settlement today. It's where and when you actually sell the house and you get the money. That's the neatest part. We did the sale right at the courthouse, right where I bought it. The tax sale wasn't on the courthouse steps. It was inside the building. The buyer wanted to only pay $4,500, and we accepted that.

We also gave the new owner the stove, the stinky refrigerator, the extra furnace, the extra hot water heater, all the wood and building supplies, as well as some tools and an anvil for free. He was happy. Other houses on the street have sold for as much as $40,000 something. My dad said that I was a "house flipper," but I'm not sure what that means.

I am going to treat myself to two stuffed animals with some of the money from the house sale. I'm buying a raccoon and an alligator. Dad says that an alligator is a house that eats your wallet. I like beenie babies a lot and have a whole bunch. Beenies are collectable and worth lots of money, but I just made more money on one house than I could make on a 100 beenie babies. The rest of the money after expenses is going to my college fund.

My dad thinks about real estate investing too much, but he helped me a lot with my house. My mom helped too, but she mostly helps me with my homework.

When I bought this house I was 10 years old and in fifth grade. Now I'm 11 and in sixth grade. My allowance is $5 a week. I just sold this house for as much as 900 weeks of allowance, however long that is. I'm the only person in my school that bought and sold a real house. When I tell people that I bought a house, they think I mean a playhouse, a dollhouse, or a Barbie toy house. I don't even like Barbie!

I'm looking forward to buying my next house. I think my dad knows of some houses for sale cheap. Maybe I will pick a new house to buy. I'm already planning to buy a house when I go away to college in seven years. I want to buy a place to live and so my parents can come and visit. If a 4-foot 6-inch ten-year-old girl can buy a house and make money, why can't you?

 
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