Everybody pay attention: 14-year-old Willow Tufano has purchased a home in Florida, which means that any day now she'll be inviting us all to her housewarming party, and if any of you copy my gift idea (a 15-dollar gift card to Lowe's), we will have words.
Willow, who in addition to be being a landlord enjoys Lady Gaga (cool) and animals (super cool), told NPR's Chana Joffe-Walt that, because her mom is a real estate agent, she got to observe Florida's housing market collapse up close, tagging along when her mom started working with investors who wanted to bid on suddenly cheap foreclosed homes. On one particular trip to a house an investor wanted to flip, Willow noticed that the house was still filled with most of the previous resident's stuff and had no compunction whatsoever about asking the investor if she could peddle those leftover shards of someone else's broken American dream on craigslist.
Encouraged by the profitability of her new enterprise, she started picking over leftovers in other houses, eventually netting some $500 a month, most of which she saved until she bought a 2-bedroom house listed at $12,000 — $100,000 pre-bust. Recalling the idea to buy the house, Willow says, "I was like, 'What if I bought a house? That would be crazy.'" It's a crazy world, Willow, and Fortuna's wheel never stops spinning, a sentiment I'm sure the previous owner would agree with if he or she hadn't sold all his or her "extra" organs on craigslist. Willow ended up splitting the price with her mom, and the enterprising mother-daughter pair is now renting the house to a couple for $700 a month.
There's a really good HGTV show to be had out of this story, or at least an interesting episode of Income Property. If Willow's real estate savvy makes you feel bad about maybe not owning a home yet, don't worry — home ownership isn't for everyone. It's only for especially opportunistic property barons like Willow, and certainly not for 99 percent of the mouth breathers on HGTV's House Hunters, whose decisions to make down payments are contingent on only two features: granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. I bet Willow, with all her good sense, opts for quartz.
Image via Sergej Khakimullin/Shutterstock.