First Person: We Sold Our House at Auction for Half of What it Was Worth

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My husband and I decided to add a child to our family in 2009. There simply wasn't room to do this in our tiny house. My husband had bought the house at a real estate auction when he was single and in his early twenties. I moved in a few years later and there was barely room for the two of us.

The house was 700 square feet with no closets and only one bedroom. The only bathroom was inside the bedroom. It was built in 1955 and was made of wood, which made it practically uninsurable due to Florida's hurricane frequency.

We knew it was a tough real estate market, but were hopeful. Since my husband got it for a great price and we owned it free and clear, we thought we could price it low enough to get some attention. Then it sat ... and sat some more. We tried three different realtors. It wasn't getting any action. We lowered the price several times. We dropped it until we just couldn't go any lower.

It was located in a decent neighborhood, but brand new houses were selling for the same price in less desirable neighborhoods. Buyers with a small budget were forced to choose between the larger, new concrete block home with modern amenities in a questionable location or our small 50 year old wooden home without a dishwasher and only one closet in the entire place in a nice neighborhood. The new homes were obviously more appealing.

We went ahead and bought a different home. We would have loved for our house to sell before buying so we could put down a larger down payment, but I was anxious to begin building our family. We brought our daughter home in 2010 and still hadn't received a single offer on the old house.

My husband spent three years hauling our lawn mower between homes to cut the grass each week. We couldn't afford a lawn service for either location. Paying for utilities and maintenance on both homes added up to a big chunk of the budget each month.

We decided we'd had enough. We called an auctioneer. We paid a thousand dollars for his services, which included promoting the auction. If the house didn't sell, the money was still gone.

About two dozen people showed up for the auction. We didn't put a reserve price on the house. The auctioneer started bidding at sixty thousand dollars. It got one bid. He tried had to work up more interest. He didn't work.

The house sold for sixty thousand. It was appraised at one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. The brother of the next door neighbor bought it as a vacation home.

We closed quickly and had the money in the bank by the end of the month.

It was a relief to be able to move on, even though the house sold for much less than it was worth.

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