Quite possibly the youngest landlord in America, 15-year-old Willow Tufano has added another property to her burgeoning portfolio.
The Port Charlotte, Florida teen flexed her young entrepreneurial muscles last month and snapped up her second home in the area for $17,500, taking advantage of the Sunshine State’s foreclosure crisis.
Having already splashed out $12,000 in March to take her first step onto the property ladder, self-made Tufano boosted her real estate through rent collected and re-invested from tenants twice her age.
By her own admission she is too young to remember the buoyant property market before the crash of 2007, but like any good American living the dream the gifted teenager has decided to capitalize on Florida’s housing collapse, where one in 318 homes foreclose each month.
Back in March, Tufano raised half the $12,000 she paid for her first home by clearing out and auctioning junk on Craigslist from repossessed homes her real estate agent mother, Shannon Moore had on her books.
The two-bedroom concrete block home had been on the market for $100,000 at the peak of the property bubble in 2005 but it was reduced to just over a tenth of its initial price, and put up for auction, after its former owners could not afford to pay the mortgage and it was repossessed by the bank.
Her latest home was purchased in similar circumstances last month and she has claimed that she will now aim to buy two houses every year and wants to boast ten by the time she is 18.
‘I would go around with my Mom and look at these houses, and there was one filled with a whole bunch of different furniture that was nice, and I said, Well, I can sell this stuff.’ So that was how it started,’ she said to CBS News.
‘I’m trying to get as many houses as I can while the market is low.
‘I want to try for two a year, pretty much.’
The teen, who keeps up with her studies through a remote learning course at home became interested in the property market when she was just seven-years-old by following her mother around at work.
Then she started to clear homes of old possessions left behind when the recession hit and the mortgage lenders started to foreclose.
On one business outing with her mother, she spotted how the house being sold was brimming with items that would otherwise be thrown away.
She asked the person who was about to buy the house whether he would mind if he cleared it for him.
‘It was filled with all kinds of stuff. I was like, ‘I can sell this stuff if he’d want to let me have it,’ she told National Public Radio.
Before long Willow was making $500 per month clearing repossessed homes, and so when her mother spotted the two-bed up for auction she decided to try and buy it.
She added: ‘I was like, ‘What if I bought a house? That would be crazy.’
Describing the place as a ‘mess’ when they bought it, it was soon cleaned up and is now being rented out to a young couple of $700 per month.
And although she went halves with her mother, she has vowed to repay the family debt by the time she is 18.
‘I just try and save every penny that I can to invest in more houses,’ she said to CBS News.
The precocious teenager recently though suffered the ignominy of her tenants skipping out in the middle of the night and leaving her in the lurch.
But that hasn’t stopped her pursuing many other money making opportunities including a reality television show.
‘Everyone started calling,’ said Willow to NPR.
‘Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper, some show from Korea. ‘I thought, ‘Oh my goodness.’
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