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I bought my first house for just £14,000

A FIRST TIME homebuyer who was able to buy her forever home for just £14,000 – less than the price of a car – has added a whopping £137,000 to the price of the property.

Betsy Sweeny, 29, from West Virginia, told Sun Online how she increased the value of the property to £150,000 in just two years after taking on the mammoth project.

Betsy Sweeny bought the property for just £13,000

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Betsy Sweeny bought the property for just £13,000Photo credit: Wheeling Heritage Media
Betsy spent nearly three years renovating the home after purchasing it in 2019

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Betsy spent nearly three years renovating the home after purchasing it in 2019Photo credit: Wheeling Heritage Media
Betsy revealed how she saved thousands of pounds by buying cheap and doing renovations herself

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Betsy revealed how she saved thousands of pounds by buying cheap and doing renovations herselfCredit: Betsy Sweeny

The homeowner, who is a heritage conservationist, spotted the dilapidated home while walking around in 2019 and made a mental note to snap it up.

The 18th-century house in the town of Wheeling was a complete shell with water damage and a leaking roof after not being lived in for the past 30 years.

Betsy says buying the dilapidated building and getting much of the work done has allowed her to live in her dream home – and she encourages others to do the same.

Betsy said: “It was a crazy time, looking back on it I can’t believe I thought buying a falling house during a pandemic was a good idea.

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“I wanted a project and I was in my late twenties so I didn’t have a lot of money to bring it to the table so I was looking for something I could afford.

“The house was in terrible shape but all in all I spent less than $150,000 (£114,000) and I have a huge house, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, much bigger and nicer than anything you can find for $150,000 around here could get new.

“It was fall 2019 when I first saw the house and I was like, ‘Is this available?’ or even if I could find the owner.

“I did a little research and was able to get in touch with the owner who lived out of town, met with them and toured the home and spent early 2020 putting together a financing plan to purchase the property in the midst of the pandemic .

“I bought it for $18,500 (£13,000) … it’s extraordinarily cheap, cheaper than a car.”

HOME SWEET HOME

Built by a wealthy ophthalmologist for his family in the 18th century, the house was passed down through the generations before finally being saved from demolition by a married couple.

Betsy was able to tour the home after chasing the couple and using savings while cashing in a retirement fund to purchase.

She was drawn to the property’s historical features and character, from the Victorian fireplace to the stunning dark wood staircase, all of which have now been lovingly restored.

“The house had a small yard and a large lot, and many of its original features were still intact … on the other hand, it had been abandoned for 30 years and was in pretty bad shape,” Betsy said.

“It was a very tight budget because I’m a professional in the industry, I know exactly how these projects work and I do a lot of the work myself.”

The exterior of the West Virginia home looks completely different two years later

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The exterior of the West Virginia home looks completely different two years laterCredit: Betsy Sweeney
The homeowner has managed to transform the dilapidated house into a stunning home

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The homeowner has managed to transform the dilapidated house into a stunning homeCredit: Betsy Sweeny
Betsy says the project only cost her £114,000 and the house is now worth a whopping £150,000

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Betsy says the project only cost her £114,000 and the house is now worth a whopping £150,000Credit: Betsy Sweeny
Betsy was able to retain some of the house's original features and bring them back to life

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Betsy was able to retain some of the house’s original features and bring them back to lifeCredit: Betsy Sweeny

She was then able to get a $125,000 (£96,000) construction loan to make the house livable while also paying the bills for her apartment nearby.

But says she had to skimp and save to pursue her dream of giving up going out and shopping.

The building has now been brought to life after Betsy and her boyfriend spent countless hours lovingly rebuilding the house.

She said: “The benefit of the pandemic was that my calendar was wiped clean for the first time in my life. Luckily I was able to keep my job but I was working from home so that was all I had to do.

“I got up at 5am, went over and worked on the house until 10:30am, went back to my apartment and did my job and went back to the house at 4pm and worked until 9pm.

“I and was able to keep to my schedule and spend many hours of work there.

“My boyfriend and I were on a passenger elevator from May 2020 through Thanksgiving that year, day by day rebuilding the back of the house brick by brick until it was safe.

“Either you have the time and know-how or you need a lot of money.

“Yes, you have a lot of money to spend, but you have to compare that cost to what a prefab would otherwise cost you.

“The trap is that people think they can buy a $20,000 house and make it livable for $50,000 (£38,000) – that’s not realistic, you have to look at the value of the whole house.

“Expect at least $100,000 (£76,000), everyone wants to make a deal… but the end result is something you couldn’t even dream of launching today.

Betsy is now hoping to continue working on her new home and plans to refurbish the kitchen this summer after the house was valued at £202,000 (£153,691).

She said: “It’s absolutely better to buy and repair old than to buy new.

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“The quality of these old houses, even if they are in poor condition, the materials they are made of are irreplaceable. You just can’t get that anymore these days.

“It was better [buying the house] than i ever expected i have never lived in a big house i love it now. I love the high ceilings and it feels luxurious.”

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Bobby Allyn

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