Imagine living in a missile silo located in New York’s Adirondack State Park, or at the top pyramid of the Smith Tower, once the tallest building in Seattle. Buying unique homes like these comes with challenges, however.
Buying an unusual house can be the adventure of a lifetime. The character and charm can express your creativity. But that creativity holds its own challenges, from financing your purchase to selling your house.
Unique Homes: Weird and Wonderful
If you are revamping an abandoned farmhouse or renovating a church, you’ll benefit from the enjoyment of seeing your vision emerge. You may also reap benefits that a more conventional home couldn’t supply. The acoustics of an old church, the lofted space perfect for a home office in reclaimed barn, the hand-carved molding of a cottage that’s almost impossible to find—those are hard to build new, much less a home in a cave or the purple princess Victorian of your dreams.
Other homes may reflect a cutting-edge futuristic village, such as the tiny house movement (which crams a lot of life in a very small footprint) or creating living space out of discarded shipping containers.
If you’re interested in buying a unique house, what you need to know can be summed up in one word: resale.
You may not want to spend your retirement in your houseboat, quarry or renovated submarine—or raise a child in a cave. Whatever the reason, at some point your lifestyle may call for a more traditional home. Finding a potential buyer for your underground abode, dream castle, or haunted house (with or without tennis courts), may prove tough.
You can get lucky. Because your new home is likely a rare find, like-minded individuals could pay a pretty penny if you sell: just look at the missile silo home put up for auction on eBay. After a handful of TV shows worldwide featured the curious abode, a winning bid put $2.1 million in the homeowner’s pocket.
However, just because your strange house is meaningful to you and your creative spirit, don’t count on it being the hottest property on the market.
How easy will it be to sell the property in the case of foreclosure? This is the main question that looms in lenders’ minds. If the borrower defaults on the mortgage, the lender needs to be able to resell the property within a reasonable amount of time. Because of this risk, buying a unique house may be a challenging process.
Determining the resale value of a house relies on finding similar home sale prices for comparison—but what if no other home is quite like yours? How many converted nightclubs could one find in the same district?
Generally, a larger lender will not want to take a chance on a non-mainstream property. Sometimes small local lenders, familiar with an area’s unusual properties, will offer a loan.
Locating a Lender
To find a lender to finance the unique house you want to buy, consider doing a keyword search online for the best deals—or approaching a mid-sized bank.
Custom builders may be a resource as well, as they often have good relationships with banks, online lenders or other sources of financing. You can consult a broker whose knowledge of lenders can save you precious time so you can move forward with your purchase.
You may receive a high interest rate or need to put down down payment of more than 20% cash, however.
Perhaps living in a strange house seems inspiring at first, but the reality is eccentric floor plans can make day-to-day living a more frustrating experience than living in a more traditional setting.
Will your grandmother’s antique dining room table fit in a curved great room? Can that small door accommodate a modern sofa? How do you light a soaring vaulted ceiling?
Try grocery shopping in the Adirondacks—not so easy sometimes. If dusting the tops of your bookshelves is rough now, imagine having to sweep spider webs from the gables of a gothic cathedral.
Consider what life in the unique house of your choice would really require. Calculate how much money it will cost to maintain this place over time.
Whether you dream of living in a lighthouse, having an ice-cream parlor in your living room or enjoying a wedding chapel in your backyard, you can find all kinds of unusual homes for sale.
Whether you decide to market it for resale—or treasure it as your home for the rest of your life—with a little homework you can choose a home to suit your practical needs and creative spirit.