Before you get all salt-air dreamy over the prospect of moving into a lighthouse on the cheap, be mindful of rough seas ahead in the purchasing process. You'll have to fork over a minimum $10,000 (and up to $1 million) deposit to even bid on a property, according to the story. Visiting the site can be challenging because some are accessible only by Coast Guard ferry and you'll have to secure the loan without federal help. But perhaps the most daunting hindrance of all: Even though minimum bids can be as low as $10,000, the cost to renovate can bust many budgets.
Take the listing of the 35-foot-tall, 117-year-old Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse three miles off Staten Island, N.Y. The asking price is $45,000, plus $20,000 deposit. It's got 1,000-square feet for living quarters. Tempting, right? But repairs could run as high as $500,000 for such a structure, Jeff Gales, the executive director of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, said in the article.
That doesn't include the environmental cleanup bill you might also get. And did we mention that you'll have to secure state permission to move in?
Still, the apparent deals are tempting. The U.S. government is feeling the pinch of a lingering economic trough, so it lowered the price on many holdings no longer in use to make them attractive to adventurous buyers. Once home to military personnel and their families, a 6.7 acre compound with 12 residential townhouses in Brandywine, Md., is going for $250,000, plus $7,500 deposit. Water-living more your speed? A 9.3-acre complex on Neville Island in the Ohio River near Pittsburgh is soon to come on the block. No starting bid has been announced, but it's got all the amenities for your very own family boot camp: two Quonset huts and a shed.
The GSA conducts two open houses for offshore lots, and about 70% of registered bidders attend, according to SmartMoney.com.
Like with all real estate deals, it pays to read the fine print. For example, the aforementioned lighthouse you're eyeing to match your captain's hat has a few kinks. As the GSA notes, it's prone to flooding and the grounds are covered in guano.