By Joe Crews
"Success Requires Patience, Willingness to Renovate"
skyrocketing real estate prices, it's still possible to find a
home for less than $100,000 in the Volusia-Flagler market
-- if you persevere and are patient, and are willing to repair
and renovate it. Just
ask Carla Gamble. She and her 42-year-old husband, Roy, this month
moved into a two-bedroom, two-bath home north of DeLand they bought
for $87,500. "It
almost took three months" of looking for a suitable home in the
couple's price range, Gamble, 45, said. "I found it on the Internet."
She said real estate agents were showing them flooded properties,
mobile homes or "neighborhoods I didn't want to live in." That
prompted her to search the Internet, where she found the 48-year-old
fixer-upper on Mohawk Avenue for sale.
The Gambles, now first-time homeowners, had been renting in DeLeon
Springs. Their landlord wanted to sell that house, so they first
looked at renting elsewhere. "What
they wanted (in deposits and two months' rent) was a lot more
than buying would be," Gamble said. "We jumped into (buying) and
got a home at a really great price."
She knows their new home needs a lot of work, but they plan to
live out their lives in it. As a bonus, the home also has a detached
mother-in-law suite they're planning to rent out. "I
probably won't want to get rid of it after I put my heart and
soul into (fixing) it," she said. "We love this place."
Real estate agents say there are a few houses on the market for
less than $100,000, but most will be -- to put it generously
-- humble abodes in need of some work. Maggi
Hall, broker/owner of West Volusia
Properties I(which helped the Gambles buy their
home), said she is listing a couple of houses in the DeLand Garden
District and some in the Spring Hill area. (Spring Hill is a predominantly
black community on DeLand's southwest side and adjacent to unincorporated
Volusia County.) "Of
course, they need restoration. That's about it, unless you want
a mobile home in Lake County," Hall said, only half-jokingly.
Mobile homes are considered single-family residences, Hall said,
but are much harder to get insurance and financing for unless
they're less than 20 years old. But single-family homes with five-figure
price tags are scarce, unless potential buyers are handy with
a hammer and paint brush. Hall
recently found about three dozen homes on the West Volusia Multiple
Listing Service that were priced less than $100,000. Some
were in more rural areas, such as Seville and Osteen, but others
were in Lake Helen, DeBary and Deltona. Virtually all were "handyman
Pickings also are slim in Flagler County, according to Realtor
Matthew Wilson of Coquina Real Estate and Construction. He
found eight in the listings there for less than a hundred grand
-- seven mobile homes in the far western portion of the county,
and one in a rundown neighborhood in Bunnell. "Most
are listed in fair or 'handyman' condition," Wilson said. "If
you find anything under $100,000, it's not going to be much."
Realtor Anne Wilson -- no relation to Matthew -- of RE/MAX Beach
Realty in Palm Coast said for less than $70,000 "you have
your choice of delightful two-bedroom, single-wide mobile homes
manufactured prior to 1980." "How
you finance it is up to you, since most lenders won't touch it,"
she said. Aside
from one side of a duplex in Bunnell, she added, there aren't
any fixer-uppers available in Flagler County. "None worth sinking
much money into."
Southeast Volusia has even slimmer pickings. Realtor Donna Concannon-Kosmas
of Prestige Properties in New Smyrna Beach said nothing on the
beachside is selling for that little. On the mainland, "whatever's
there, they're tear-downs." "Anything
under $100,000, you're really just buying a lot," she said.
"The houses are not habitable." Even
mobile homes are probably out of the question in the New Smyrna
Beach area, Concannon-Kosmas said. "The land is just so much more
valuable for other things."
The median price of existing houses sold in the two-county area
surpassed the $200,000 mark in June. The median means half
sold for more and half for less. A
spot check of Volusia County sales in late August and early September
turned up about two dozen houses scattered around the county selling
for less than $100,000. Some were mobile homes or units in
multifamily dwellings, but many were slab-built houses in or near
Daytona Beach (6 of them), DeLand (5), Deltona (3), DeBary (1)
and Ormond Beach (1). Of
the 16 single-family houses in the two-week sample, half were
bought by investors. Buyers of the other eight were moving into
their newly purchased homes. Only
one of the six houses sold in Daytona Beach was occupied by the
new owner, according to records at the Property Appraiser's Web
site. Five of the homes were within an area bounded by Nova Road,
Mason Avenue, Beach Street and International Speedway Boulevard.
One was south of Daytona Beach Police Department.
In DeLand, three sold properties were outside the city limits.
Two of the existing-house sales were to owner-occupiers, as were
all three in Deltona, one in DeBary and one near Ormond Beach.
the West Volusia Properties broker, said prospective
buyers should get a "four-point" inspection before finalizing
any contracts. That would include detailed examinations of the
house's roof, plumbing, electrical system and heating-ventilation-and-air
conditioning system. Anyone
buying a fixer-upper or handyman's special, should expect to spend
thousands of dollars on repairs, Hall
have never seen anyone do a decent job for under $5,000 if
they're doing more than cosmetic work," she said. "Many just need
a thorough cleaning and a coat of paint . . . (but) restoring
a home is big bucks."
Some jobs, such as re-roofing or electrical wiring, should be
done only by certified contractors in order to meet building codes.
But painting, re-carpeting and the like can be handled by do-it-yourselfers.
herself a contractor, said a new air conditioner can cost $3,500
to $4,500; a new roof about $4,500; rewiring the electrical
system about $5,000; re-plumbing a kitchen and bathroom about
$2,000 apiece; and new carpeting about $1,200. "There's
a difference between remodeling and restoring, and doing just
cosmetic work," she said. "If the new owners can do a lot of the
work themselves, they will save some money. Done right, the value
of the home will appreciate."
That's what Roy and Carla Gamble are betting on. And while finding
a home for under $100,000 is daunting, Carla Gamble insists
"if you have the patience, it can be done."
BACK TO ARTICLES