Jul 07, 2023

Michigan house listed for $1 sells for more than $50,000, agent says

While listing a Michigan house on Zillow last week, Chris Hubel pressed only one numerical key for the home’s price: $1.

The real estate agent dubbed it the “World’s Cheapest Home!” and spared no details in its online description. Hubel divulged its “unique features,” including a “floor hole” beside the furnace and overgrown greenery that enticed “local critters for an impromptu garden party.”

“The roof might have seen better days,” he wrote, “but hey, it’s not leaking yet — it’s just keeping you on your toes, providing an unexpected shower of excitement when you least expect it.”

What began as an “off the wall” tactic to sell the Pontiac, Mich., home escalated as the listing went viral. Potential buyers called from around the world, and more than 140 offers poured in, ranging from 27 cents to more than $50,000. The house sat on the market for eight days, waiting for someone to buy their “ticket to the real estate adventure of a lifetime,” as Hubel wrote.

He and his client, Mary Blair, accepted an offer Wednesday morning for $52,000.

“I was afraid I was going to have to sell it for $1, but that didn’t happen thankfully,” Blair, 64, told The Washington Post. “But I just didn’t expect it to go that big.”

Blair has been buying, selling and renting properties in Pontiac since the early 1990s, she said.

She’d worked with Hubel before, and when he approached her a couple weeks ago with the idea to list one of her properties for a single dollar, she “just let him run with it.”

Located on East Ypsilanti Avenue, the two-bedroom, one-bathroom house was valued at $32,000 in 2004, when Blair became its sole owner. There was an attempted sale in 2011 for around $10,000, but no one bought it, Blair said. The house has remained unoccupied for that entire time, almost 20 years.

Just one day after Hubel listed the home, Zillow Gone Wild — a social media account dedicated to the weird and quirky corners of Zillow — reached out to him asking to run a story about it.

When the account posted it, Hubel was on his way home from a different showing. In the span of a 20-minute motorcycle ride, he received at least 50 phone calls and a nonstop stream of text messages. Hubel checked the Zillow page and saw that its views were already skyrocketing into the thousands.

The numbers continued rising as news outlets from around the world ran stories about the house.

This week, Blair’s daughter texted her a photo of a news article, asking her mother jokingly: “Is this yours? Haha.” When Blair responded that it was, her daughter asked: “Really?” then, “Why only $1?”

“My whole idea with this is when you price a home lower than market value, it’s almost always going to find its true market value,” Hubel said, adding that the listing with Blair’s house was “an experiment to showcase that in an extreme.”

As offers started coming in for the house, so did the unusual emails showing proof of funds to buy it.

People who put in offers of $5 sent Hubel photos of just a $5 bill. A YouTuber who put in a $5,000 offer told Hubel they would document the renovation efforts online to bring it even more virality, he said. Another social media influencer wanted to trade an RV for the house, he added.

Ultimately, out of 142 offers from across the United States and a few other countries, Hubel and Blair seriously considered about 10, each around $40,000.

Late Tuesday night, an offer came in for $50,000, Hubel said. Then, a buyer in the area put in another offer for $52,000.

“I think it drove up the value for the local buyers because there was so much competition and because they were competing against people throughout the world,” said Hubel, who plans to use the $1 listing strategy on other properties in the future.

The winning offer came from Saida Garcia, a 26-year-old Pontiac resident whose family flips and resells houses.

Garcia saw the home last week after the story had gone viral. At first, she didn’t look beyond the listing, knowing there would be many interested buyers as news of the house seemed to be everywhere online.

But she was still curious about the home. So on Monday, she and her father went to see it. They walked across the house’s open floor plan, gazing at its walls — some with chipped paint, others that hadn’t been finished at all.

“We loved it,” Garcia said. “It has a lot of potential.”

Her family has “many plans” for the house, including landscaping the backyard and adding a dining area. The project will take about eight months before the home is ready to be sold again, Garcia said.

And the starting price?

It likely won’t be just a dollar, she said.