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Why buy a new house when you can buy a deserted town for the same money?

2 minute read

These towns are considered “unincorporated,” meaning they aren’t part of a local government. That means even if the price is good, the unique nature of these places makes buying them more challenging than with most homes.

Getting a loan is harder

Real estate broker Mike Metzger sells the typical standalone family home in Utah for around $150,000. A larger “executive-size” home goes for about double that.

Given the acreage these “ghost town” properties tend to come with, he feels they make an interesting purchase in comparison.

However, lenders aren’t too eager to help buy these kinds of properties. It’s not the same as getting yourself a mortgage. And putting insurance on the property is a challenge, too.

“It is very difficult to get a loan for these types of properties,” Metzger says. “Most times, it’s going to be a private sort of banking, with loans based on the individual and the relationships they have with the bank versus your traditional ‘square box financing.’”

Metzger continues: “Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and FHA are not touching these properties.”

The living is tougher

Finding running water, electricity and other utilities is often a problem for buyers, too. With some of these properties, you need to search miles away for running water and electricity. Many of the structures may be uninhabitable due to years or even decades of neglect.

And the structures often aren’t built to current city safety standards.

“Most of the structures in ghost towns aren’t up to code,” Metzger says. “They were built before the code was invented. They’re probably the reason code was invented, because as they were finished, they were running out of materials.”

Of course, a ghost town isn’t for the faint of heart or the thin of wallet. But to those history buffs and nostalgia seekers, when one of these properties goes up for sale, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime offer to own a huge chunk of land – and maybe even the supernatural.

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye began writing about debt and personal finance more than three years ago while attending Florida Atlantic Univerisity, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the student-run newspaper, the University Press. Before graduating with a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism, Pye placed as a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. Since taking a full-time position as associate editor at Debt.com in 2018, Pye has become a certified debt management professional who's applied what he's learned to his personal life by paying down more than $22,000 worth of combined credit card, student loan, auto and tax debt in less than two years. He maintains a frugal and debt-free lifestyle. Pye's goal is to uncover trends in the financial world and share his experiences to help readers stay out of debt.

Published by Debt.com, LLC