One-Buck Fixer-Up

Who says you can't get anything for a buck these days?

And we're not talking about McDonald's Dollar Menu. Forget the flimsy cheeseburger. In St. Paul, Minn., a buck that will get you a house.

Believe it or not, though, in this brutal real estate market, even a dollar is proving to be a tough sell.

With 2,000 vacant houses in St. Paul, city officials are getting creative with ways to revitalize neighborhoods hammered by foreclosures. The city recently purchased 11 houses in Dayton Bluffs, one of St. Paul's most historic neighborhoods. The plan is to sell the properties, lie the one picture here, at big discounts in hopes of attracting people who want to make Dayton Bluffs a place to call home.

The properties are priced from $1 to $50,000, depending on the condition -- many of them need substantial renovation after sitting vacant for so long. There are two homes currently listed for $1, and another 4 with a price tag of $5,000, according to the city of St. Paul's web site. Buyers still must qualify for loans of $140,000 to $190,000 and officials say they should expect to put $100,000 into the bargain properties.

The problem with the city's plan is that because there is so much inventory, buyers can find homes in other areas that are in much better condition for less than $100,000. City Council President Kathy Lantry told KARE Channel 11 that the city is even considering paying for some of the renovations to help move the properties.

"What I want people to do when they drive by three months or a year from now is to hear nothing but hammers and saws and see a revitalization of these gorgeous old homes," Lantry told the news organization.

Investors and speculators need not apply. Buyers are required to live in the homes, which have passed city inspections, that they purchase. City officials say if the Dayton Bluffs experiment pays off, they'll consider expanding the program to other neighborhoods.

That's certainly something to chew on the next time your sitting in drive-thru deciding between the cheeseburger or small fries for a buck.
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