How We Did It
We wanted to own a bed and breakfast, but we couldn't begin to afford it. So we got creative.
(MONEY Magazine) – BY HOLLY AND CHRIS McHAGGE, ROME, GA. AS TOLD TO DAPHNE MOSHER
"In July 2003 we were driving through Rome, Ga. and saw a FOR SALE sign in front of the Claremont House Bed & Breakfast. We had always talked about running an inn, so on a lark we stopped by and left our contact information. We honestly thought we'd never hear from the owner again.
Two months later we got a call saying the house was still for sale. We were in no position to buy, but the owner agreed to lease the property for $3,500 a month for six months, with a possible extension and an option to buy. Those first six months were tough: We used around half of our savings to furnish the place, make renovations and keep the business afloat. Our friends and relatives lent us furniture and helped out with repairs and landscaping projects. Fortunately, our living expenses are pretty low since we eat and sleep at the inn.
At the end of six months, we agreed to a three-year lease-to-own arrangement. We also decided to get married. Instead of buying an engagement ring, we made a $10,000 down payment on the house. We now pay $5,290 a month (based on a purchase price of $705,000 at 6.25% for 30 years, plus taxes and insurance). Approximately $4,400 goes to the purchase of the property. When the lease expires, we'll already have built up about $40,000 in equity.
Most B&Bs don't survive the first year. Two and a half years after we started, ours is going strong. We plan to hire some employees as the number of guests increases. By the end of the year, our dream will be a reality: We'll be signing a mortgage on our very own B&B."