Can You Buy a City? The Intriguing World of Urban Real Estate Auctions

Can You Buy a City?

Yes, it is possible to buy a city.

Ghost towns that have been abandoned or are no longer inhabited can be found for sale, often complete with houses, stores, and other buildings.

These towns were originally created by companies for the purpose of extracting resources like gold or silver.

When the resources ran out, the towns were abandoned and eventually put up for sale as ghost villages.

Some famous examples include Swett, South Dakota, which was available for $250,000, and Hell, Montana, which was listed for $900,000.

Smaller budget options can also be found, such as an old mining town in California that sold for $70,000 in 2013.

Towns can sometimes be found for purchase on websites like Craigslist or eBay.

However, buying a town is not easy and typically requires a private banking loan as FHA or Fannie Mae-backed loans are not available.

Once a town is purchased, the possibilities for its usage are endless, from turning it into a tourist destination or a wellness center, to creating a theme park or a commune.

Some examples of people buying and transforming towns include Raymond Schmitt, who restored a derelict town and sold it to a church, and Frank Underwood, who bought and restored Cerro Gordo, turning it into a popular tourist spot.

It is also possible to build your own town by forming a municipal corporation or by starting with an unincorporated community.

Key Points:

  • Ghost towns that have been abandoned or no longer inhabited can be bought complete with houses, stores, and other buildings.
  • Companies originally created these towns for resource extraction purposes like gold or silver.
  • Famous examples of towns for sale include Swett, South Dakota for $250,000 and Hell, Montana for $900,000.
  • Smaller budget options can also be found, such as an old mining town in California that sold for $70,000 in 2013.
  • Towns can be found for purchase on websites like Craigslist or eBay.
  • Buying a town typically requires a private banking loan as FHA or Fannie Mae-backed loans are not available.

Did You Know?

1. While it is possible to buy property within a city, it is actually not legally possible to buy an entire city in most countries. Cities are typically owned and operated by municipal governments, making them public entities rather than private possessions.

2. However, there have been instances where small towns or villages have been put up for sale. One notable example is the town of Bridgeville in California, which was put on the market in 2002 for a price of $1.75 million. The entire town, complete with its buildings, land, and infrastructure, was included in the sale.

3. In order to purchase a property within a city, potential buyers need to navigate through zoning laws, planning regulations, and municipality procedures. This ensures that developments within the city meet specific requirements and adhere to urban planning guidelines.

4. The island of Redonda, located in the Caribbean Sea, was once declared a “kingdom” by its owner, Matthew Dowdy Shiell, in the 19th century. Shiell created his own monarchy, issuing stamps and currency for the island. However, no legal recognition was ever given to his claim, and the “Kingdom of Redonda” remains a peculiar and unrecognized entity.

5. While you may not be able to buy a city, individuals have been known to become mayors or acquire unique honorary titles for certain areas. In 2013, a town in Spain elected a 6-year-old boy as its honorary mayor. Although the position held no real political power, it allowed the young boy to experience the responsibilities and joys of being a mayor for a day.

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Buying Ghost Towns: A Closer Look At The Real Estate Market

Buying an entire town may seem like something reserved for fictional characters or eccentric millionaires, but in reality, it is an intriguing world of urban real estate auctions. Ghost towns, which were once bustling communities, can now be found for sale, complete with houses, dance halls, post offices, and general stores. These abandoned towns were created by companies locating valuable resources like gold or silver in areas such as the Wild West or Canada and constructing towns to accommodate workers and their families. However, when the resources ran out or economic conditions changed, residents would abandon the town, and it would eventually end up for sale as a ghost village.

One famous ghost town that is available for purchase is Swett, South Dakota. Priced at $250,000, it includes one residence, a tavern, a gas station, and a local store. This ghost town provides a unique opportunity for buyers to own a piece of history and potentially revive the once-thriving community. Similarly, Hell, Montana, is another ghost town that is up for sale, with a price tag of $900,000. These examples demonstrate that purchasing a town is not solely for the ultra-rich; there are options available for smaller budgets, although they may still require a significant financial investment.

Interestingly, towns for sale can occasionally be found on websites like Craigslist or eBay. In 2013, Seneca, California was listed on Craigslist for $225,000 and included 10 acres of land, three cabins, and a bar with a liquor license. This demonstrates that these opportunities can arise unexpectedly, and it pays to keep a keen eye on online platforms if you’re in the market for a ghost town.

Famous Ghost Towns For Sale: Swett, South Dakota And Hell, Montana

Swett, South Dakota and Hell, Montana are two famous ghost towns that are currently available for purchase. The prospect of owning an entire town may seem like a fantasy, but these real-life opportunities offer a chance to own a piece of history and potentially revive a once-thriving community.

Swett, located in South Dakota, is on the market for $250,000. This price includes one residence, a tavern, a gas station, and a local store. The potential buyer of Swett could turn this ghost town into a tourist attraction, a wellness center, or even a theme park. The possibilities are endless.

Hell, Montana, priced at $900,000, provides a different opportunity for potential buyers. This former mining town has a rich history, and the buyer could choose to preserve its heritage or transform it into a unique vacation spot. While the price may be higher, Hell, Montana offers a larger canvas for potential development.

These ghost towns are not just empty shells; they are windows into a bygone era and an opportunity to create something new. Whether it be restoring the town to its former glory or reinventing it for a modern purpose, owning a ghost town is a chance to be a part of history, while also embracing the future.

  • Swett, South Dakota: $250,000 for one residence, a tavern, a gas station, and a local store
  • Hell, Montana: $900,000 with a rich history and potential for development

“These ghost towns are not just empty shells; they are windows into a bygone era and an opportunity to create something new.”

Purchasing A Town: Options For Different Budgets

The idea of purchasing an entire town may seem extravagant and unattainable for most people. However, there are options available for different budgets.

  • For those with a lower budget, ghost towns priced below a million dollars can still be found. In 2013, an old mining town in California sold for $70,000, proving that there are opportunities for those on a tighter budget.

  • Swett, South Dakota, and Hell, Montana are examples of towns that offer options in the mid-range price bracket.

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It’s worth mentioning that purchasing a town is not an easy feat. Traditional loan options like those backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Fannie Mae are generally not available for this type of purchase. Instead, buyers usually opt for private banking loans or consider alternative financing options.

Owning an entire town may be a more complex process, but it offers unique opportunities for development and creativity. Whether it’s for personal use, as a business venture, or even as a social experiment, purchasing a town allows individuals to create something extraordinary.

  • Unique opportunities for development and creativity
  • Potential for personal use, business venture, or social experiment.

Tips For Financing Your Dream Town: Loans And Available Options

Financing the purchase of an entire town is a complex task that usually requires a private banking loan instead of traditional options like FHA or Fannie Mae. Potential buyers of ghost towns should consider alternative financing options such as commercial loans, mortgages, or personal loans, depending on the town’s price.

  • Commercial loans are commonly used for investing in a town purchase. However, securing approval for a commercial loan can be more difficult compared to residential loans due to the unique nature of the purchase and potential limitations on income generation.

  • Mortgages are another option for financing a town purchase, especially if the buyer intends to use the town as their primary residence or develop it into a residential community. It is important to ensure that the town meets the lender’s criteria for habitability and marketability.

  • Personal loans could be a viable option for those with sufficient personal assets or an established credit history. Depending on the buyer’s financial situation and the town’s price, a personal loan may offer flexibility in terms of repayment and ownership structure.

In conclusion, financing the purchase of a town requires careful planning, research, and exploration of available loan options. Each buyer’s financial situation and goals are unique, so it is advisable to assess individual circumstances and consult with professionals specializing in unique real estate financing.

  • Seek a private banking loan rather than traditional options like FHA or Fannie Mae.
  • Explore alternative financing options like commercial loans, mortgages, or personal loans based on the town’s price.
  • Commercial loans can be more challenging to obtain due to factors like the unique nature of the purchase and potential income-generating limitations.
  • Mortgages may be suitable if the buyer plans to use the town as their primary residence or develop it into a residential community, but ensure the town meets the lender’s criteria.
  • Personal loans could be flexible in terms of repayment and ownership structure if the buyer has sufficient personal assets or an established credit history.
  • Careful planning, research, and consultation with professionals specializing in unique real estate financing are essential in the process.

Creating Your Own Town: From Municipal Corporations To Unincorporated Communities

While purchasing an existing ghost town may be an attractive option for many, another intriguing possibility is creating your own town from scratch. This process involves forming a municipal corporation, which is the legal term for a governing body.

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Depending on the state and jurisdiction, forming a municipal corporation requires fulfilling specific legal requirements. In some cases, this may involve obtaining approval from the local authorities, demonstrating a detailed plan for the town’s development, or having a predetermined number of individuals willing to support and contribute to the creation of the town.

In some instances, depending on the state laws, obtaining approval from a majority of area voters may be necessary to establish a new town. This can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires building community support and meeting legal criteria.

Alternatively, individuals may opt for creating an unincorporated community. In this scenario, there would be no elected officials, and the town would operate under the rules and regulations of the county. Although this option may come with fewer administrative responsibilities, it also means fewer opportunities for self-governance.

Whether creating a town from scratch or purchasing an existing ghost town, both options offer unique opportunities for personal expression, creativity, and community-building. Building a town allows individuals to shape their environment, create a unique culture, and leave a lasting legacy.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you own a town in USA?

Yes, it is possible to own a town in the USA. There are instances where entire towns are put up for sale, often with few residents and the land within the town’s limits being included in the purchase. These towns can be found through auctions on platforms like eBay, where interested buyers can bid on and potentially become owners of these unique properties. While you may not own the land in the same way that the government does, purchasing a town grants you control and ownership over the majority of the land within its boundaries.

Can you buy a village in UK?

If you have deep pockets and a love for grandeur, you can indeed own a village in the UK. For a hefty sum of £20 million, nestled near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, one can become the proprietor of an entire English village. Imagine the allure of being the owner of not just a home, but a community, where every street, every building, and every resident falls under your domain. With this purchase, you can embody the age-old belief that one’s home is truly their castle, albeit on a larger scale.

Can you have a city in a city?

Yes, it is indeed possible to have a city within a city, known as an enclave. Enclaves are unique entities, usually completely surrounded by the territory of another city or administrative division. These enclaved cities have their own jurisdiction and may have distinct governance systems and regulations. As a result, they can function as independent urban areas within the larger city, contributing to the diverse fabric of the overall urban landscape. Enclaves often offer a fascinating blend of cultural, architectural, and administrative differences, creating a captivating experience for both residents and visitors alike.

Can you own land forever in USA?

In the United States, land ownership is generally based on the principle of absolute ownership, granting individuals the right to own land indefinitely. As long as property owners fulfill their financial obligations, such as mortgage payments and property taxes, they can retain ownership of their land indefinitely. This system allows individuals the freedom to make alterations to their properties and exercise control over them, giving them a sense of stability and security in their ownership rights.

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