How Does A 14-Year-Old Girl Buy A House?

You occasionally hear about teen pop stars and actors buying their own homes, but it’s not every day that you run across a seemingly average 14-year-old girl who not only purchased a property but has already turned it into an income generator.

NPR has the story of the Florida teen who has spent the last few years making a profit off the depressed local real estate market.

She would go around with her realtor mom as she showed foreclosed-upon and abandoned homes to investors. At first, she had the idea of offering to clean out the items left behind by the former tenants and then selling it all on Craigslist. That led to around $500/month in steady income.

Then when she was tagging along with her mom to look at a house, once worth $100,000 that was set to be auctioned off for around $12,000.

“I was like, ‘What if I bought a house?’ That would be crazy,” she tells NPR.

She ended up having to also put her mom’s name on the title, but fully intends to buy out mom’s portion after her 18th birthday, an age at which many of us were probably scouring the car floor mats for enough change to buy a case of Natural Light at the deli where they don’t check your ID.

In the meantime, she’s fixed the place up and is already renting it out to a couple for $700/month.

This 14-Year-Old Girl Just Bought A House In Florida [NPR]

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  1. crispyduck13 says:

    Kids these days…oh wait.

    • alana0j says:

      I only hope I teach my little girl well enough that she is that smart. If she’s got a job at 16 and plans to either go to college or get a place by 18 I feel like that would be an accomplishment given the trend of twenty something year olds still living at home

  2. Southern says:

    “She ended up having to also put her mom’s name on the title”

    Didn’t you answer your own question?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s not a riddle like “why did the chicken cross the road?” It’s “what was the process.”

      Is your comment intentionally obtuse?

    • Charmander says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking – after I read the part about the mom also putting her name on the title, my only thought was…”well, that answers the question.”

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Consumerist poses a question, then answers it. I fail to see the reason for even mentioning such a thing.

    • JoeTaxpayer says:

      The “title as question / answer in article” is a common article style. In fact, if I find a question that never gets answered in the article, I’d be surprised.

  3. Hi_Hello says:

    that’s neat.

    I don’t know the process..but don’t you need to do some stuff because you can just sell stuff from abandon houses? If you don’t do the proper ‘stuff’ can’t the person who abandon the house, sue you for selling their things?

    I wonder if she has a better business sense than her mom.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Maybe it’s like the storage locker sales (Storage Wars), where if they remain unclaimed for a period of time, the owner can dispose of the goods. I don’t recall what our requirements were from when I managed apts in Oregon, but I think it was 30 days. We never sold, just donated.

    • Buckus says:

      Once the property changes hands, whatever is on the premises becomes the property of the new owner. I don’t believe there is any mandatory waiting period or anything similar to storage units. Since it’s been a while for most people, if you pay attention to a real-estate transaction, it grants ownership of the property and all possessions within as of the closing date.

      • Cream Of Meat says:

        Back when I was in the business It was 19 day minimum before a trash out on foreclosed properties. That’s in northern california, but I don’t know other areas laws.

        It was big money for us, the banks paid well, and we got to sell anything worth anything to make more on the side. You could find everything from dead pets to full houses just left behind, complete with safes and jewelry boxes. It was mostly just old furniture, garbage, clothes and tools though. So imagine 1 in 25 houses had more than just useless junk. It was horrible for a fledgling compulsive hoarder like myself.

      • bluline says:

        Wasn’t there a story here a few months ago about a couple who bought a house and found something like $30,000 hidden in it? The debate was whether or not the people who bought the house were obligated to tell the previous owners about the money. I think most commenters said no, that the cash transferred to the new owners when they purchased the property.

    • Pepster says:

      This isn’t an apartment or storage locker that someone forgot about or missed rent on – it’s a home they MOVED OUT of. Anything they choose to leave behind (or “abandon”) is transferred with the rest of the property in the transaction as noted above..

    • Snakeophelia says:

      Anything left behind after the sellers move does become property of the buyers, at least in PA. In fact, it had to state explicitly in the contract that the sellers had to take certain things with them (that they would have otherwise left behind) so that it did not appear that the value of the home was being changed or that some incentive was being offered to us to buy the house. We had to do the same with the house we were selling. So we couldn’t leave behind our removable AC units for our buyer, and the sellers of our house couldn’t leave for us the dining room table set they no longer needed. All of that was spelled out in the contracts.

  4. philside92 says:

    how does a 14 year old buy a house? by profiting from the broken dreams of others, of course.

    • dolemite says:

      “Mom, what are these stains in the carpet?” “Those are tear stains honey”. “Gross”

    • mingtae says:

      All too American if you ask me.

    • MickeyMoo says:

      Everyone has broken dreams. It’s not like she stood outside twirling her Simon LeGree moustache while a widow with cancer and her 8 children were thrown out into a snowstorm. Had the 14yo not bought the house, it’s not like its original owners would still be living there. Banks and mortgage brokers and real estate agents bear a lot of the blame for this modern day tulipomania, but lots of people made some really poor personal financial decisions as well.

      • Tiercelet says:

        Among them the banks and lenders, in this case, who chose an auction in favor of a short sale and got WAY less than the value of the house (the arbitrage of which is now being reaped by this 14-year-old, though obviously with the coaching of her realtor mother).

        The smartest kind of short sale for this bank to have made, of course, would be a “short sale” to the previous owners — what we call a ‘principal modification’. They’d have come out a whole lot better off than getting $12k if they’d reduced the owners’ payments to $500/mo (substantially less than rental value!) with a 30-year term.

      • philside92 says:

        i’m not speaking of the house she bought, i’m speaking of the belongings inside the forclosed houses she sold to raise money to buy a house…although as you have correctly pointed out, probably qualifies as the broken dreams of another person.

        • JennQPublic says:

          She made money selling other people’s abandoned trash, and she’s profiting off their broken dreams? Were their dreams to not have to haul off their own crap when they moved out of the house?

    • bluline says:

      Someone’s going to profit from it. Might as well be her.

  5. gerrylum says:

    Yeah, I could probably buy a house much easier too if I could live with my parents and not pay rent.

    • j2.718ff says:

      And if your mom was a realtor, who was also willing to pay what the girl couldn’t afford herself.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        There we go. headline should read: “Realtor mother buys home in own name but is letting child pay for some of it, and giving her some responsibility over it.” Kind of like buying a super-expensive puppy, you know Mom will end up taking care of it.

    • JennQPublic says:

      And if you’d done that at fourteen, we would all be very impressed.

      Or we’d just make snarky comments to diminish your accomplishment to make us feel better about ourselves. It could go either way.

  6. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    FTA:
    “Willow wound up splitting the house with her mom. Willow plans to buy her mom out in the next few years, and put her name on the title when she turns 18.”

    That’ s how. Using her mom’s money and paying it back at no interest.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Uh, no… RTFA. She trashes out foreclosed houses and sells the good stuff on Craigslist. That’s how she makes her money. At $500/month if she saved it all it’d only take 2 years to be able to buy out a $12000 house outright. Geez at that point the closing costs would be a sizable percentage of the entire purchase price!

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        Um no…you RTFA. The linked FA. The quote I posted comes from the linked article, it’s not something I made up. She split the $12000 with her mom and is going to pay her mom for the other half later.

        • youbastid says:

          So you’re suggesting that the $6,000 she got from her mom gave her an unfair advantage? Please. She would have saved that much up in 2 more years and then she’d be a 16 year old homeowner. Give the girl some credit, first off, for saving $6,000 by 14 – and even THEN using all of it to invest in something. If I was her parent I’d have no qualms about matching her savings, especially considering she’s paying it back.

          • Charmander says:

            You both have no idea how she got her money. Maybe her grandparents died and left her a nest egg. Maybe her dad loaned her the money. Who knows? The point is you are squabbling about something you don’t actually know.

            • Conformist138 says:

              “NPR has the story of the Florida teen who has spent the last few years making a profit off the depressed local real estate market.”

              So, $500/mo x 2 years (less than a “few”, which is 3-5) = $12,000. So, yeah, the article suggests she really did save her own money she earned from her initial business idea and paid for half of a house with her mom. In fact, if she keeps earning $500/mo from selling items on CL and $700/mo from renters, then she’s taking home more money than I am at my full time job. Of course, she has property taxes, property maintenance, and other costs, but she also isn’t likely paying rent or utility bills. If she expands just a little more, she really could be self-sufficient by the time she is 18 and ready to take full possession of the house.

              Granted, the article doesn’t say she DIDN’T inherit a bunch of money, but it heavily implies otherwise.

          • TheMansfieldMauler says:

            I didn’t say anything about it being unfair. Jump to your own conclusions.

            What I’m saying is this isn’t some 14-year old independent entrepreneur genius the article is making her out to be. It’s a 14-year old who earned money for a year and then got an interest-free loan to buy something ultra-cheap through a family connection that the normal person would not know about or have access to.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Still, if she’s renting it at 700/month, that;s 8400 per year, minus taxes and any repairs needed. She’ll probably pay her mom back within a year, two at the most.

  7. JennQPublic says:

    I cannot believe how negative the comments are about this girl’s achievement. It sounds like she worked hard and is planning ahead, good for her, and good on mom.

    • Charmander says:

      People are jealous. Plain and simple. That sounds like a bad thing to say, but there are people who cannot be happy for other people unless they also have the thing the other person has.

      I bet all the negative comments on here are from people who want to buy a house, but haven’t or can’t.

      I’m not making any judgments about that – but geez – let’s be happy for a 14 year old girl who has good business sense!

    • lawnmowerdeth says:

      My guess is they are the angry liberal arts majors that are always screaming for more free handouts.

    • mcshaggin says:

      Amen! These people piss me off saying she stole their dream. Yeah their dream was to live above their means and the house of cards came tumbling down. They also took me down with them. My house is worth half what it was but I can’t walk away like everyone else because I actually put money into it. Had I been paying the payment and not extra principal I’d have to walk away too but I was responsible, bought a house we could afford with one income and paid extra principal from day one. I don’t want to hear it Libs.

    • drjayphd says:

      Considering this is the site where commenters bashed a guy who paid cash for a car by saving his change for about eight years… it’s not all THAT surprising.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Sorry, but I’m not going to go ga-ga over a kid whose mother trained her in business, gave her daughter the opportunity to start a small business that would actually be lucrative, used her connections to give her daughter every advantage in finding work, trained her daughter in real estate, gave her a large, interest free, forgivable loan toward the purchase of the house, and will provide expert guidance to her daughter and help her during the time that she owns the home, and presumably when she sells it. All of this is happening during a once-in-a-generation low market. So, kid is fortunate to have the Mom she has, and is fortunate to happen to be living in a tremendously depressed real estate market that gives her unbelievable buying opportunities.

      This is a child that was, as they say, born at the finish line, but is taking the credit for having run the race. I think that’s what people have a problem with, not jealousy. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to be fourteen again (puberty and high school? Yuck.) Even with a moneyed life like that.

      So, yay to the daughter for not being a lazy screw-up, but bigger yays to the Mom for raising a child that will, hopefully, be an industrious and virtuous citizen.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        Oops, this comment was meant to go to Charmander below. Let me just use this edit button here…

  8. deano says:

    Sounds great she did that, I started entrepreneurship young too, but not this big.

    But it makes me wonder if she owns it to get around mom’s conflict of interest as a Realtor(r).

    • RandomHookup says:

      Real estate agents buy properties all the time. Shouldn’t be a conflict of interest as long as she was open to the seller that she wanted to buy it.

  9. Tacojelly says:

    Property taxes will be a rude awakening

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      With the 700/month rent she’s raking in? I don’t see how.

    • scottydog says:

      Yes, on a house that might be assessed at $1000 on the high end, property taxes of $1,000 per year are probably doable, especially if she is bringing in $700 per month in rent. EIther her or her mom will have to pay taxes on the rental income.

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    See what happens when you treat them like your own special snowflake?

  11. lifeispunny says:

    Aren’t you a little young to own a house?

    Yes, yes we are.

  12. Sanspants says:

    The first thing that came to mind was, “Actually, according to the will the cats own the house. You’d be their tenants!”

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      Also, it’s technically in New Jersey.

  13. Jules Noctambule says:

    Good for her! If she keeps making business decisions like this, she’ll likely have a fine and independent life ahead of her.

  14. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    damn can I follow her mom around a while>?

  15. j2.718ff says:

    Seemingly average, who managed to find a way to earn $500. Seeing as how she’s still living at home and all, I can assume this $500 is nearly 100% disposable income. Kudos to her for doing this, but this particular door wasn’t open for any 14-year-old to walk in. (It required knowing a realtor who has the combination to those key-boxes.)

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      She sounds like a sharp cookie; she might be saving up for college, or to buy a car, or hell, maybe she’s saving up to retire early. If she’s financially savvy enough to be buying a house she’s probably not wasting all of her money on designer clothes and toys.

  16. hush404 says:

    I should look into moving to Florida. ****, a house for $12,000? You make that back and then some in less than 2 years when renting out for $700/mo.

    • Mrs. w/1 child says:

      …but then you have to live in Florida.

      • Cat says:

        … and judging from the posts we see about “Floridahahaha!”, it would be hard to find good tenants. And given the job market in FL, finding tenants that can pay the rent could be difficult, too.

        • dilbert69 says:

          It does make me wonder why anyone would be willing to pay $700/month to rent a house that could be purchased outright for $12,000.

  17. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    What about the $500/months she’s bringing in from sales on Craig’s List – does she have to pay any taxes on this?

    I hope this story doesn’t make the IRS and/or Florida tax officials descend on her.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      500 x 12 = 6000 a year. Reduce that by her tax exemption and we’re talking very little in taxes.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        She doesn’t get an exemption. If her parents claim her on their tax return (Why wouldn’t they?), she cannot take an exemption. Can take the standard deduction. But she would still owe SE tax. Only refundable credits reduce that amount. Well, payments too.

        • Tiercelet says:

          Check the form again — if her parents *CAN* claim her as a dependent, whether they do or not. As a 14-year-old, she has virtually no deduction.

    • CoachTabe says:

      No state income tax in FL.

  18. Hartwig says:

    I would be buying houses up all the time at 12,000. Seems like the people rented for 700 bucks a month should be buying. Banks can’t have too many requirements for a loan on 12k

  19. Buckus says:

    I’ll tell you how a 14-year old girl buys a house: with money.

    /anothermysterysolved

  20. SilverBlade2k says:

    So…in the house that the 14 yr old owns…do her parents have any authority?

    Mom> You’re gounded missy!

    14 yr old> I have my own house…..your rules are nullified.

  21. physics2010 says:

    Buyer’s market. duh.

  22. Bort says:

    Parent: Look young lady, as long as you live under my roof you follow my rules

    Daughter: Well fine then, I’ll just move into my own house that I bought last week

  23. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    Bart bought a factory, and he’s voiced by a woman. Does that count?

  24. makoto says:

    So… basically the mother is doing all the work for the daughter.

  25. jiarby says:

    Your life has to suck when you have a 14yo landlord!

  26. Shmoodog says:

    Sorry dudette. Taking other people’s stuff because you have access to it and selling it for YOUR profit should not be condoned as a good moral decision.

    Using that money to buy someone’s foreclosed house is like the Mets using Bernie Madoff money to pay Jose Reyes.

  27. oldwiz65 says:

    Nice to hear about a girl at her age actually doing something to earn money without resorting to selling drugs or herself.

  28. pot_roast says:

    NPR comment said it best: “”Aaron Hunt (t3chi) wrote: The girl does not own the house; her mother, who is in real estate, owns the house. Funny how being in real estate seems to be the only way anyone gets their hands on a $12K foreclosed home. This story shows just how easy it is for real estate agents to throw their money around and exploit others to do it. The home should have gone to the couple who has to suffer the humiliation of renting from a 14-year old with a parent in real estate who could have helped them get that home for $12K in the first place — oh, but wait then her mom wouldn’t have gotten her usual $50K cut on the sale, right? How about a story on how regular people who make less than $30K a year can get a foreclosed home for $12K, eh? How about a story on how self-employed people with flawless credit cannot get a bank loan in order to buy a house. It is *impossible*. Foreclosed homes should go to people who can afford them, not greedy “investors”! This story is not an example of what is right in our country; it’s shows exactly what’s wrong with it. Absolutely infuriating!””

    • JWMcDonald says:

      Potroast:

      The kid has hustle and initiative and the smarts to take advantage of the situation.

      Something the losers who moan about the injustice of this do not have.

      Those losers have the same opportunity – but they expect it to be handed to them.

      Sorry, those losers deserve to rent.

  29. JWMcDonald says:

    The kid has hustle and initiative and the smarts to take advantage of the situation.

    Something the losers who moan about the injustice of this do not have.

    Those losers have the same opportunity – but they expect it to be handed to them.

    Sorry, those losers deserve to rent.

  30. DerangedKitsune says:

    Proof it’s all in who you know. If her mother wasn’t a realator, she wouldn’t have access to free stuff to flip on Craigslist thus making her “steady” $500/month, let alone the inside track on knowning when good homes in good neighborhoods come up for cheap . No free stuff, no cheap house, no news article.