As retirement nears, finding budget-friendly housing is crucial for many seniors. Abandoned houses provide a cost-effective alternative. This guide explains how seniors can acquire these properties and turn them into comfortable homes.

Introduction to Unsold Abandoned Houses

Abandoned houses can be intriguing for retirement seniors due to their lower price points. These properties often go unclaimed, are sometimes bank-owned, or have been left vacant due to various reasons, including financial distress, legal issues, or the death of the owner. The reduced competition for these properties can lead to significantly lower prices compared to the market rates for similar inhabited properties.

Benefits of Purchasing Abandoned Houses

  1. Lower Cost: Often priced below market value to account for condition and to encourage quick sales.
  2. Less Competition: Fewer buyers are willing to take on the risk and effort of rehabilitating an abandoned property.
  3. Investment Potential: Significant potential for value increase through renovations.
  4. Community Improvement: Revitalizing a home can contribute to the improvement of the entire neighborhood.

How to Find Cheap Abandoned Houses

1. Local Government and Tax Auctions

Cities and counties frequently auction off properties that have been seized due to tax delinquencies. These auctions are typically advertised in local newspapers or on government websites and can be a source of properties at significantly reduced prices.

2. Bank and Real Estate Owned (REO) Listings

Banks sometimes end up owning homes after unsuccessful foreclosure sales. These REO properties can be found through bank websites or through real estate agents who specialize in foreclosures.

3. Specialty Websites and Real Estate Platforms

Websites like, RealtyTrac, and Zillow offer sections specifically for foreclosed and auctioned homes, which can include abandoned properties.

4. Direct Outreach

Finding homes that appear vacant and directly contacting the owners or heirs through public records can sometimes lead to deals not available on the open market.

5. Networking with Real Estate Agents

Some agents specialize in distressed properties. Building relationships with these professionals can lead to early notifications of available properties.

How to Renovate Abandoned Houses

  1. Assessment and Planning: Conduct a thorough inspection to identify and prioritize structural damages and safety issues. Hire a professional to assess plumbing, electrical systems, the roof, and potential hazards like mold.
  2. Securing the Property: Secure the house to prevent damage and vandalism by repairing broken windows, installing new locks, and possibly setting up a security system.
  3. Addressing Major Repairs: Prioritize major repairs including fixing the roof, updating electrical and plumbing systems, and addressing structural issues to enhance safety and efficiency.
  4. Improving Insulation and Ventilation: Boost comfort and reduce energy costs by improving insulation and ensuring proper ventilation, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.
  5. Interior and Aesthetic Updates: After essential repairs, refresh the interior with new paint, updated fixtures, and refinished floors, using light colors to enhance space.
  6. Landscaping and Exterior Work: Enhance curb appeal and the home’s value by painting, repairing siding, and managing the landscape.

Examples of Affordable Abandoned Houses Across the U.S.

Here are ten specific examples of affordable abandoned houses from different regions in the U.S. Prices and availability are indicative and can fluctuate based on market conditions and specific property statuses.

  1. Detroit, Michigan: A 3-bedroom, 1-bath house in need of renovation listed at $15,000.
  2. Baltimore, Maryland: A small row house listed at $18,000, requiring significant updates.
  3. Cleveland, Ohio: A 2-bedroom house with potential, listed at $20,000.
  4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A historical row house in a recovering neighborhood, priced at $25,000.
  5. St. Louis, Missouri: A 2-bedroom home near the city center, needing full rehab, listed for $12,000.
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana: A cottage with flood damage, listed at $30,000.
  7. Memphis, Tennessee: A foreclosure in a quiet neighborhood, listed at $28,000.
  8. Chicago, Illinois: A small house in a developing area, available for $22,000.
  9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A 3-bedroom house requiring updates, listed at $19,000.
  10. Topeka, Kansas: A fixer-upper in a modest neighborhood, priced at $17,000.


Purchasing an abandoned house can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor for seniors. It requires diligence in research, a good understanding of local real estate markets, and sometimes a significant investment in renovation. However, for those willing to take on these challenges, the rewards can be substantial in terms of cost savings and potential profit. The examples listed above provide a snapshot of what is available across various U.S. markets, offering opportunities for those looking to enter the real estate market through a less conventional route. As with any real estate investment, thorough assessment and professional advice are recommended to ensure a profitable and smooth transaction.