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Saturday, September 6, 2008

When a "dollhouse" really is…

From this week’s newspapers comes this story. Calling a home for sale a “dollhouse” isn’t necessarily a compliment, but in the case of the home Gerry and Cindy Mann are selling, it’s the truth. The Manns have been unable to find a buyer for their full-size home in Battle Creek, Mich., over the last year. Now they are trying a new approach.

To focus attention on the property, they are offering a dollhouse version of their home created 15 years ago by Cindy Mann’s father. It’s built on a 1 foot to 1-inch scale and is valued at about $2,000. The Manns are offering it for $169,000 and throwing in the full-size version for free.

"I've seen funny signs, like, `Hey, honey, stop the car,' but I haven't seen anything like this," says Matt Davis, president of the Battle Creek Area Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors. "I mean, it's a pretty creative idea, and God bless 'em if it works."

One has to wonder about the tax implications of this ploy. There certainly wouldn’t be an State Transfer Tax or Revenue Stamp Tax on the transfer of the full size house at $0, which sounds like a nice savings; however, if the Manns get dunned for the 6% sales tax on the sale of the $161,000 doll house, then it would cost them quite a bit more than what they saved on the big house. Plus, I assume that they’d still need to buy a title insurance policy to cover the transfer of the big house, as well as paying the filing fees for the title transfer.

Cute ideas like this are fun to read about, but likely fraught with potential pitfalls for the sellers and maybe the buyers, too. Of course times are tough for all of us, so I’m busy making a tiny Real Estate One sign that I can put in front of the Manns dollhouse. Maybe I can get their listing. Of course I’ll have to buy a micrometer to measure the rooms accurately, but I’ll save on pictures, since one good shot will show all of the rooms at once. But, I’ll have a good retort for the common complaints that the bedrooms are too small or that the kitchen is tiny. Well what did you expect – it’s a dollhouse!

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