Only a few of us will ever have the privilege of owning a mansion. It’s fun to picture ourselves lounging by a huge pool, or in a movie theater that happens to be in the basement.
That being said, what would you do if a multi-million dollar home was on the market for less than $20? A 111-year-old mansion in New Jersey has been put on the market for $10. The only thing is that there is one gigantic catch.
The Metropolitan Area Is Not Cheap
It’s beyond hard to find a reasonably-priced house in the New York metropolitan area. According to recent Zillow listings, the median price of homes currently listed in the area is $342,000. That’s not exactly pocket change for most people.
So, when a gorgeous mansion went on the market for $10, people flocked to the open house. Weirdly, no one made an offer on the suburban monstrosity. You won’t believe the reason the mansion never had a buyer.
The Property Is Located In Montclair, New Jersey
The 111-year-old colonial-style mansion is located in the suburban town of Montclair, New Jersey. It’s the ideal location for any family looking for their forever home. The area is surrounded by great schools, country clubs, shops and restaurants, and not to mention it is all very green (well, until winter hits).
The mansion is even located on a road called Pleasant Avenue. If that’s not a selling point, we’re not sure what is!
Suburban Life With A Taste Of The City
The Essex County township of Montclair boasts a population of 37,669 people. That’s a perfect number if you’re not too much of a city person, but you don’t want to live in a tiny suburban bubble. Not the mention that Manhattan is a short 45-minute car ride away.
So why aren’t people jumping at the opportunity to live so close to the city and yet still be able to come home to a quiet town? Keep reading to find out!
First, A Little History Of The Mansion
Renowned local architect Dudley S. Van Antwerp built the mansion back in 1906. Van Antwerp opened his design practice in 1900, and from there, went on to build the famous Montclair Wachtung Avenue Congregational Church as well as the Yacht Club in Bayside, Long Island.
So what is so special about this residential mansion? It’s beautiful and set on a great plot of land, but why go through all the trouble of listing it for only $10?
The Colonial-Style House Is More Than Its Outward Appearance
The mansion is nearly 4,000 square feet, so it’s not exactly what one would call tiny. That square-footage does not even include all of the amenities around the property. The inside consists of six bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths, meaning there is no lack of space!
The new buyers could make those rooms into anything they want. The possibilities are endless! If the mansion doesn’t already have one, we would build a library.
Speaking Of Amenities…
Aside from the actual mansion, the grounds are something else altogether. The home sits on about two-and-a-half acres of land, which is plenty of room to put a few fun features around the property.
The mansion comes with its own private tennis court and gazebo, as well as a carriage house. Renovations to make a game room in the carriage house would be amazing! Needless to say, the property has some definite selling points.
The Real Cost Of The House
Considering the northeast suburban location, and not to mention the town the mansion is located in, it should be on the market for a bit more than what it costs to go out to a fast-food restaurant for dinner.
The fact of the matter is, the mansion should technically be listed at $1.35 million. That may sound steep, but considering the neighborhood and the surrounding multi-million dollar homes, the price is pretty spot-on.
The Mansion Holds Historical Significance
Aside from the famous architect, the mansion was home to the first African-American athlete to become captain of the Notre Dame football team, Aubrey Lewis. The Fighting Irish halfback is recognized as one of the state’s greatest athletes, his old high school in Montclair even naming their field house the Aubrey Lewis Sports Complex.
Due to a heart murmur he had since birth, Lewis did not pursue a career in football. Instead, he decided on a different career path.
Aubrey Lewis Did Many Firsts
Being the first African-American captain wasn’t enough, Lewis went on to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of its first training class to include African-Americans.
Even after his storied career, Lewis made his way back home to Montclair to settle down with his family. When he passed away in 2001 from heart complications, the BNE Real Estate Group purchased his estate, planning to build eight homes on the property. The plan quickly fell through.
The Real Estate Agents Have A Plan Up Their Sleeves
When BNE Real Estate Group purchased the property, they made an agreement with Montclair’s Historic Preservation Commission to preserve the estate, due to its historical significance/celebrity status. Therefore, they weren’t able to build on the land and their original plan for the property fell through.
Real estate agents are smart, though, and they had a Plan B. They listed the mansion for a total sum of $10, but with that price came a huge catch.
It Looks Like There’s A Good Reason People Aren’t Buying
What deal could possibly be bad enough for people to turn down the opportunity to own a gorgeous piece of property? Well, as it so happens, the mansion can’t actually be lived in where it currently rests in Montclair.
This means that whoever buys the mansion is also going to have to pay to move the entire thing to a different location. It now makes sense why no one is jumping at the opportunity. Talk about a plot twist!
Unfortunately, The Potential Buyer Won’t Have a Choice
Carmen Warren of Montclair says it best, “Where are they going to put it? Why would I want to buy such a big monstrosity of a house and don’t know where to put it? That’s a lot of house to move.” We couldn’t agree more!
Problem is that whoever purchases the residence doesn’t have a choice. Montclair town officials approved that subdivision application under the strict terms that if the mansion was sold it would have to be relocated.
Moving The House Isn’t The Only Stipulation
Whoever purchases the mansion is going to be responsible for not only moving the residence within a quarter-mile of its current location, but they must pay for all of the costs that come with buying a new home.
The buyer is also going to be required to go through all of the necessary renovations before lifting the mansion, which all needs to be paid out of pocket. That’s going to get real expensive, real fast.
A Few Hundred Thousand Should Do The Trick
Due to the old age of the mansion, the seller is offering $10,000 to help with any renovations that need to be made throughout the property. That’s a generous offer, at first glance, but when you think about all of the necessary repairs on top of the relocation the cost is going to be astronomical.
The total effort is estimated to cost around $200,000, which is still less than what the mansion is worth, but it’s still a great deal of money.
The Other Costs Are Non-Negotiable
Not including the moving cost, the buyer will have to do lead paint and asbestos checks. Considering the age of the mansion, it is a very real concern.
Laurena White, a real estate agent for Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, said, “In addition to moving it, the cost of any kind of repairs and renovation required that it be done to historic guidelines. That tends to be expensive.” Whoever buys this home has got to be the world’s biggest history buff!
How Does One Move A House? Very Carefully
Pretending there was no price involved and no renovations had to be made, how on earth do you even start moving a house of this size? There are definitely going to be some mailbox casualties, not to mention tree branches are going to be falling down left and right.
As odd as it sounds, picking up and moving an entire house is not exactly unheard of, and in some cases can be financially beneficial to the homeowners.
Relocating A Home Is Not Unheard Of
In 2007, Julie and Randy Olson of Brook Park, Minnesota uprooted their entire home after the value suddenly plummeted and they couldn’t secure a loan to build a new one.
Luckily, one of their friends was selling their home for $1 (and we thought $10 was cheap!) to help a future wildlife reserve. The Olsons bought the property and had their Brook Park home moved for $22,000 — a fraction of what the property is worth.
Relocating A House Could Be Financially Beneficial
If the Olsons’ story is any indication, relocating a house is possible and can be financially beneficial if you go about it in a smart way. In some cases, it actually might be a sensible thing to do!
Not to mention that once it is relocated, you’re not going to have to worry about those costs ever again. Maybe a fix here and there, but nothing like the initial cost of renovations and uprooting an entire home.
All Of This Could Be Yours!
Just think about it, if you have the money. You can have this gorgeous mansion valued at $1.35 million as well as a little piece of American history. All of it at a startlingly low price, nonetheless.
Big picture: a beautiful home, great suburban location, a nice story to tell friends at any gathering, and a whole lot of room to entertain! All you need to do is skip buying a movie ticket every week!
The House Was Demolished In 2018
Unfortunately, due to the lack of buyers, the house was demolished in May of 2018. Because of the subdivision agreement, the historical society had no ground to stand on, and therefore they had no choice but to let the town take over the land.
Where the once colonial-style mansion stood, there is now a more modern development consisting of eight single-family homes, “The Collection.” They did keep a bit of history there, renaming the road Lewis Court.
An Ordinary-Looking Home In Ontario
A pair of real estate agents, sisters named Gladys and Carla Spizzirri, got the shock of a lifetime when they showed up at one property. They’d heard rumors about it, and now the time had come to see if they were true. The property located at 148 Jane Street in Toronto, Ontario, was completely normal looking from the outside.
Neighbors said that not many people had been inside to see the residence at 148 Jane Street. The same family had lived there for as long as anyone could remember. No one thought much of the place until a day came when these real estate agents received an unusual call about the house.
One Phone Call Changes Everything
Veterans in the real estate industry, Gladys and Carla Spizzirri, knew the housing market like the backs of their hands. They thought they had seen it all. And on this particular day, no different than any other day at work, they weren’t expecting anything to surprise them.
But that was all about to change as the office phone suddenly rang. The voice on the other end of the line had an interesting proposition for two seasoned realtors.
The Realtors Were Used To Working Their Way Up From The Bottom
The two enterprising sisters hadn’t always worked together but they eventually decided to join forces and become a team since they got along well professionally, too. They divided their work evenly, with one actively finding new clients and listings while the other was handling closings with existing clients.
The pair were used to having to work hard to close sales but something about this specific phone call made them feel like the work would be even harder.
The Stranger On The Line Was A 96-Year-Old Woman
The caller’s name was Joyce, and she said that she was considering putting her house on the market…maybe. Joyce’s voice sounded hesitant, maybe even unwilling, but the words she spoke insisted that she would like to sell her home.
It was obvious to the realtors that Joyce hadn’t done much research and simply called the first place she could. They asked why she was hesitant and Joyce insisted the realtors come to see the house before she decided to list it.
Some of the things that Gladys and Carla Spizzirri had seen and experienced in their work as real estate agents would send other people running in the opposite direction, and Joyce’s house is no different. But they were seasoned veterans and were prepared for anything that a client threw their way.
Or so they thought… Once they finally got to see Joyce’s home they realized it wasn’t their typical day at the office.
The Realtors Could Tell Joyce Was Hiding Something
Now usually, people are excited when they contact a real estate agent. A move is likely a good thing and people are optimistic about entering a new period of life. But Gladys and Carla didn’t detect anything close to excitement as they spoke to Joyce.
In fact, they got the impression that the woman on the phone might even be keeping something from them. Some people try to hide problems with the house they’re selling, in order to get a better price. The sisters were curious about what Joyce might be hiding from them.
They Say: Expect The Worst, Hope For The Best
Joyce had told the sisters that she’d lived in her modest home for the past 70 years but that she hadn’t updated it much during those long decades. There had been one kitchen remodeling years back but that was it. This was an immediate red flag for the relators.
A good approach to just about anything in life is to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. As long-time real estate agents, Gladys and Carla Spizzirri were used to adopting this attitude when viewing a home for the first time. Still, they worried about walking into a dump that was dated and ugly.
It Was Time To Find Out Just How Bad (Or Good) Joyce’s House Was
Usually, when a homeowner tries to hide something about the house they’re selling it’s along the lines of a mold problem or a leaky basement. It’s really not unusual for someone to try and keep little problems like these a secret from real estate agents.
This was no ordinary real estate transaction, though. The secret that Joyce was keeping from Carla and Gladys was actually much bigger than normal. And it was one that the agents had never experienced in their years in real estate.
It Was Time To Finally Inspect The House
What would Gladys and Carla find when they finally opened the front door of the house on Jane Street? They grew increasingly worried as the date of their inspection neared.
The fact that 96-year-old Gladys had lived alone for so long didn’t help, as she probably wouldn’t have been able to maintain the property very well. The Spizzirris prepared themselves for the worst-case scenario, one where the house was in such bad shape it couldn’t possibly be sold.
No One Could Have Prepared Them For This
The day had finally arrived and the Spizzirris traveled to 148 Jane Street in order to finally see what mystery Joyce’s house held. Nothing could have prepared them for this astonishing sight as they opened the front door and peered inside.
In fact, this scene would be a completely unexpected surprise to anyone who saw it, especially since the outside of the house was so nondescript.
A Time Capsule Disguised As A Home
So far, the only information Gladys and Carla had been able to get about the home was an address and a photo of the front. Nothing about it seemed remarkable except for the potentially huge sum they could sell the house for if it was in decent shape.
They never could have expected to be faced with such an unusual sight once they finally had the chance to see the interior of the house in person.
Audible Oohs And Aaahs
Gladys and Carla had expected one of two things about Joyce’s house. The first option, and the one that seemed the most likely, was that the house would be in terrible condition. Perhaps it might even be full of junk as in a hoarding situation.
The second possibility was that the house would be completely ordinary, just as it appeared from the outside. But the sisters had been completely wrong. The house was in great shape, and it was anything but ordinary.
An Absolute Gem Of A Home
Needless to say, Gladys and Carla were over the moon with excitement after finally viewing Joyce’s home. It was bound to sell for a lot more money than they ever could have expected.
Joyce was an impeccable housekeeper and her home was practically a time capsule from the 1940s. This was the decade when Joyce had first moved into the house and began decorating and furnishing it. Everything looked absolutely pristine and unchanged.
Deeper And Deeper
As Carla and Gladys giddily explored the house at 148 Jane Street, they realized something: that each room was even more impressive than the one they had just left. In fact, it was the most well-preserved home either of them had ever been witness to.
The house was practically a museum of Joyce’s life, and now the sisters understood why she had been reluctant to part with it.
Will Buyers Appreciate The Home?
There was one potentially huge drawback to Joyce’s immaculately preserved home. She had decorated the house in a very feminine style, with plenty of pink and purple color splashes as well as silky and lacy fabrics. The house was definitely not a style that would appeal to the majority of men.
What were the real estate agents to do? It would cost a fortune to redecorate the entire home and cut deeply into the sales profit.
The House’s Saving Grace
After seeing room after room of pinks and purples, Gladys and Carla were about to be stunned again as they entered the basement. Lo and behold, Joyce’s stunning home had a man-cave down in the basement.
This space was probably her husband’s escape from the frilliness of the rest of the home. It featured wood paneling, a wet bar, and neutral furniture. Surely Joyce’s husband must have enjoyed hours spend down in this spectacular (and masculine) area.
The Backyard Was A Disappointment
You might expect this house to have a spectacular backyard, maybe a “secret garden” of sorts. Not so. Just like the rest of the home’s exterior, the backyard was completely ordinary, even plain. It had AstroTurf instead of real grass and one small storage shed.
This disappointing yard wasn’t a deal-breaker though! Now Gladys and Carla just needed a professional home inspector come and check for any flaws in the home.
Inspection Day Looms
Any real estate professional can tell you that even the best-looking houses can have a whole lot of problems lurking under the surfaces. From minor problems to big ones like flood damage or unhealthy mold, almost any home has a flaw or two.
Carla and Gladys were fully confident that Joyce’s house was in great condition. But even so, they knew they had to wait for the inspector’s official findings. You just never know.
What Lurks Beneath
After a nail-biting wait, the home inspectors finally arrived at 148 Jane Street and got to work. The teams thoroughly checked out every inch of Joyce’s home, looking for any hidden surprises that could derail the house’s sale.
There was no need to worry. The house was in near-perfect condition, with the inspectors saying that it was in about the same state as it had been when Joyce had first moved in 70 years earlier. It was time to list the house and find a buyer for it!
On The Market
As you can imagine, Gladys and Carla were eager to get this gem of a home on the market as soon as possible. In fact, they listed it the very same day as the inspection. Their asking price: a jaw-dropping $699,000!
A bidding war quickly started. Everyone who saw the house was astonished by its interior and wanted it for themselves.
The Listing At 148 Jane Street Went Viral
As word spread about the condition of Joyce’s home, the story began to attract some major attention. It was picked up by news outlets and became a huge story, eventually going viral. People were absolutely obsessed with the house.
In fact, a lot of people who saw the home felt that it should be preserved as a 1940s museum rather than somewhere to live. But then Joyce revealed that she had, in fact, made a change to the home while she lived in it.
What Had Joyce Done To The House?
Many of the home’s new fans were flabbergasted that it had been kept intact since the 1940s. Some of them were disappointed when Joyce revealed that she had actually had the kitchen renovated in the 1960s.
The reason for the update was that she’d wanted to upgrade her appliances to the more modern ones that had become available, which is perfectly reasonable. And the current kitchen was still exactly the same as it had been in the ’60s.
What’s Next For Joyce?
Joyce had always enjoyed interior design and had furnished her home at 148 Jane Street exactly the way she wanted it. So why was she willing to leave it after 70 happy years in the house?
Well, Joyce was finally ready to retire. She was going to move into a retirement community and enjoy her golden years in comfort and relaxation. Even so, it must have been difficult to leave her home behind.
What Does The Future Hold?
When Joyce and her husband moved into the home in 1942, it was a very different time. Things have changed a lot in the ensuing 70 years. So one question that everyone has about Joyce’s house is whether the new owners will keep it as the time capsule it was, or whether they’ll want to renovate and modernize the place.
The new owners, of course, will have the right to do whatever they’d like with their property. Those of us who appreciate history certainly hope that they’ll make an effort to keep things the same, but only time will tell.