ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It sounds like a great deal: A house for a dollar. But Saint Paul is having a hard time finding buyers willing to pay as little as a buck to purchase homes in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.
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The historic neighborhood has a lot of things homebuyers would want. It's close to downtown Saint Paul, it's close to bus routes and Interstate 94, and it's filled with unique homes.
But the problem for the city is that so many of the homes are vacant, and many have fallen into foreclosure and disrepair, making the neighborhood a hard sell.
"You have a lot of architectural styles, and it gives the neighborhood a lot of character," said Santos Martinez, who has lived on East 4th St. for 4 years and felt the vacancies drag down the value of his house.
"It's brought my down my property value quite a bit," he said. "I would say about 40-50 percent, which doesn't make me happy."
The city bought 11 properties on or near East 4th and gave potential buyers a deal you'd think would be hard to refuse.
The most expensive home on the block is listing for just $50,000. Two others carry the $1 price tag.
Of course, a one dollar house isn't really just a one dollar house. The homes need lots of work, and the city is expecting whoever moves in to spend around $100,000, or perhaps more, on renovations.
"This isn't just about providing shelter," City Council President Kathy Lantry said of the renovation project. "This is about people who want to invest in a home, and live there, and become part of a neighborhood."
Lantry said there was lots of interest in the homes at open houses this summer, but it resulted in just three offers and only one deal that's close to being done.
"Part of it is (the) huge competition that we have because so much is on the market," she said. Other homes in other neighborhoods, she said, might sell for $80,000 and need much less work.
She said the city is considering paying for some of the renovations to give homebuyers a head start
In the meantime, potential homebuyers who have money to invest, and and a lot of patience, can get started for as little as one dollar.
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