A company that prides itself on buying ugly homes fast has declared the results of its “Ugliest House of the Year” contest, and the winner could just as appropriately be described as the most heartbreaking house of the year.

  • The winner of this year’s “ugliest house” competition paints a heartbreaking picture of what can happen when a homeowner’s financial situation becomes unbearable.
  • After pictures show that vision and skilled contractors can have a miraculous impact on a property that many may see as a lost cause.
  • People choose to sell their homes at discounted rates for a plethora of reasons, ranging from pending foreclosures to simply wanting to live in a more attractive home.   

A company that prides itself on buying ugly homes fast has declared the results of its “Ugliest House of the Year” contest, and the winner could just as appropriately be described as the most heartbreaking house of the year.

But the after pictures offer an optimistic glimpse into what’s possible with some good renovations and a lot of garbage bags.

Selecting from a list of 35 candidates, HomeVestors — known across the United States for its catchphrase “We Buy Ugly Houses” — chose a 1945 Pennsylvania home with an interior that bore a striking resemblance to that of Grey Gardens as this year’s bearer of the dubious title.

The Ugliest House of the Year contest rewards franchisees who have purchased houses in deep disrepair and then remodeled them into unrecognizable dwellings.

A New York Times piece from 2006 cited HomeVestors CEO and President John Hayes as having said: “The trick is to buy homes for 60 to 65 percent of what they would be worth in good condition.”

Little is known about the winning home’s previous inhabitants except that financial pressure forced them to cancel their trash services. By the time HomeVestors franchisee Tom Beerely purchased the home at a tax auction, its condition was devastating.

In an interview with me for Inman, Beerley said that he initially purchased the property for just over $50,000, and he ultimately sold it for $350,000. He added that the renovations took about six and a half months and cost about $145,000.

“We went into it thinking it would sell for $300,000,” Beerley said. “But we got lucky in the sense that the market had appreciated in the time it took us to renovate it. Plus we ended up with a product that was so much nicer than anything nearby that we were able to get a bit of a premium for it.”

A before photo of the kitchen depicts layers upon layers of garbage covering every surface, peeling wallpaper, cobwebs, food residue, dirt and grease.

According to HomeVestors, the property suffered from a plethora of maladies by the time it was put on the auction block, including exposed beams, ceiling damage and a lack of running water.

After Beerely purchased the property, he promptly set about remodeling and restoring the two-story home.

“It took $145,000 in renovations and six 30-yard dumpsters to rehab and restore it,” Beerely said in comments released by HomeVestors.

“While it was a lot of hard work, the toughest part for me was walking through the property after we purchased it, seeing such awful conditions and knowing that someone lived there. I’m glad we were able to make it a beautiful and livable place.”

An after photo depicts a spacious kitchen/dining room furnished with modern appliances and accessories.

HomeVestors is known for purchasing homes in any condition from buyers who want to sell quickly with minimal fanfare. On its website, the company lists various factors that would compel a seller to forego the traditional sales route, including pending foreclosures, liquidating assets to pay bills, divorce, undesirable neighborhoods or being “tired of living in an ugly house.”

The company’s franchisees then renovate their purchase themselves or hire contractors to do the job for them, with the goal of subsequently selling the property at a significant profit.

Ingrid Burke is the international editor at Tranio.com, an international real estate broker with a dedicated and independent team of journalists and real estate investment experts.

Email Ingrid Burke

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