Homestead Properties: Buy a House in Buffalo for a Single Dollar

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Photo by Michael Puma
The Lyth Cottage cost one dollar and is almost fully rehabilitated.

Reposted with permission from Michael Puma at Views of Buffalo.

The Urban Homestead Program that is offered by the City of Buffalo enables qualified buyers to purchase a home that has been deemed “homestead eligible” for $1.00 and there are plenty of properties left. There are three main requirements when purchasing a homestead property; the owner must fix all code violations within 18 months, have immediate access to at least $5000, and live there for at least three years. You also have to cover the closing costs of the purchase.

 A complete list of homestead eligible properties and vacant lots can be found here, but it has not been updated since 2011 and many of the properties listed have been demolished or sold. I’ve taken the liberty of looking up each home on google maps and the Erie county property site to see if it’s still there and still owned by the city. All the homes that are still standing and city owned can be seen on this map I created. Many of the homes are in rough shape, but that’s in part why they are only one dollar.

Several people have already successfully purchased dollar homes with the help of fixBuffalo blogger, David Torke. The most notable success story is that of the Lyth Cottage on Harwood Place, more on that here. Some other properties include one on East Utica Street, a small cottage on Dodge Street, and a great place on Woodlawn Avenue, which was rehabbed by a local attorney. It’s not impossible to get these old house operational again with some sweat equity and solid finances.

You’ll notice many of the $1 homes are located on the east side, some are in neighborhoods on the rise and others, not so much. These four homesteaders are all west of the Kensington Expressway because neighborhoods like Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park are either already stable or working towards it. As development heats up around the medical campus it seems like more and more properties are getting some love and investment so picking up one of these gems in the near future may prove to be a solid investment in the long term.

A home at 393 Masten Avenue (google map) is in great shape and has some wonderful original detailing inside and out. It was built between 1893 and 1899 and has two twins just up the street on the same side at 407 and 413 Masten. I was pleasantly surprised by the interior of the home, because it wasn’t packed full of the previous tenants belongings and the damage was minimal. Overall the house is very solid with a fair roof, but it does not have a basement.

The neighbor on the right is a WWII veteran and a very nice gentleman, but the neighbor to the left in a vinyl clad new-build has been trying to get the city to demolish the home in recent years. Apparently a broken waterline to the home results in minor flooding in her basement, but take that with a grain of salt. If you’d like to see additional photos of the interior, check out my set on Flickr .

One couple has chronicled the process of buying a city-owned home on their site, Unbreak my House that you may want to take a look at for some context. Their home was not a $1 house, but the acquisition process is somewhat similar. If you have an interest in any of the homes pictured in this post or on my Homestead Eligible Map please get in touch with me via or call the Department of Real Estate directly at City Hall at 716-851-5590.