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This Town Will Pay YOU $10,000 to Buy a House

Wednesday, 11 Nov 2009 | 12:26 PM ET

Here’s a sweet real-estate deal: One well-heeled Chicago suburb is selling three homes in its downtown area for just $1 each.

Source: Village of Barrington

But, wait, don’t answer yet: They’ll also give you $10,000 to buy one of them.

That’s right. They’re paying YOU to buy a house.

So why aren’t there any takers?

Well, there’s one teensy catch: You have to physically move the house to another location and that costs a lot more than $10,000 — more like $20,000.

The town of Barrington, which had to reduce its staff by 10 percent last year amid the recession, wants that land to build new restaurants, shops and office space as part of a downtown-revitalization project.

A first round of bidding generated a lot of buzz but no buyers.

The town says it's because the auction wasn’t long enough.

“We only had the bidding process open for a few weeks and that didn’t give the public enough time to assemble and get all the different players together — house mover, utilities, etc.,” said Brooke Jones, a development planner for Barrington.

It also had a lot to do with money.

By the time you add up the costs of buying a new lot, building a new foundation and then rewiring these turn-of-the-century homes for modern times, “it probably ends up costing per square foot similar to building a new home,” said Marty O’Donnell, who runs a B&B in townwith his wife, Mary, and is chairman of the local architecture-review commission.

To put it simply: You get a fixer-upper-MOVER for the same cost as a new, move-in ready home.

And then there’s the fact that you have to figure out how to actually MOVE the house.

I mean, if you said, here’s a new refrigerator, all you have to do is find a place to put it, I could probably find a truck to move it — and a place to put it. But a house? That just sounds like something beyond the scope of my capability.

“It’s really a labor of love,” O’Donnell said — you’ve got to love the house and love preserving little pieces of history.

O’Donnell, who lives in a historic home in downtown Barrington and also volunteers to preserve the town's architectural history, obviously has the love: “It’s kind of a cute story,” he said. “You can buy a home for a negative $10,000 — all you have to do is find a place to put it!”

If you’ve got $1 — and the love — contact Brooke Jones from the village of Barrington at (847) 304-3400. The next round of bidding will start in November and run through March.

Homebuilder Stocks Today:

  • Toll Brothers
  • Beazer Homes
  • Pulte Homes
  • Lennar
  • KB Home

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Questions? Comments? Write to ponyblog@cnbc.com.

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