Check out this house: nine bedrooms, three bathrooms, only $109,000 and it comes with 24-hour security. There’s just this one thing: Well, and it’s kind of a big deal.
The home sits in two countries, the United States and Canada. So you’ll need a passport if you want to step into the backyard, according to Macleans, a Canadian news organization.
Have you heard of this house? It drew some headlines last month, but the home straddling the border remains for sale, according to Zillow.
There are just a few more logistical issues to take into consideration: The home is a bit of a fixer upper, as it was built in 1782, the walls are made of thick granite, the decor is straight out of the 1950s and that 24-hour security we mentioned is provided by both Canada and the United States, the Associated Press reported.
A hard sell
The couple selling the home is having a hard time finding a buyer because of the location, which is on the border between Beebe Plain, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec.
But the house itself looks incredible, if you don’t mind a bit of a project (which might be an understatement). The lot sits on a quarter-acre of land, the home is 3,000 square feet and it’s currently cut into five vacant apartments -- although Zillow still lists the home as having nine bedrooms total and three bathrooms, so you might want to look at how the house is split up.
The AP said the home is structurally sound, but needs lots of work, adding that the estimated rebuild cost is about $600,000. The house is being sold as-is.
Perhaps this won’t come as a surprise, but the aspect that seems to be tripping up most prospective buyers is definitely the location.
"In the day, it was a normal and natural thing," said Brian DuMoulin, who grew up in the house and was accustomed to life on the border at a time when no one thought twice about crossing from one country to the other. "Now it stresses everyone out."
A history lesson for you
The home, known locally as the Old Stone Store, was built by a merchant so he could sell to farmers in both Vermont and Quebec. Brian and his wife, Joan DuMoulin, inherited it about 40 years ago.
Now the couple, in their 70s, who have dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship and a home in nearby Morgan, Vermont, are hoping to sell it so they can move to Ontario to be closer to their children and grandchildren, the AP reported.
Admittedly, the times have changed since the DuMoulins inherited the house.
Ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, security efforts have ramped up in the area, big time.
Residential streets that used to be open are now blocked by gates. The back doors of an apartment building straddling the border nearby have been locked shut. The street next to the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, deliberately built in both countries, is blocked by flower pots, although Canadians are still allowed to walk to the library's U.S. entrance without going through a border post, the AP said.
‘It’s always a fine line’
The DuMoulins' house is directly across Stanstead's Rue Principale from the port of entry staffed by agents of the Canada Border Services Agency and adjacent to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection post.
Troy Rabideau, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection assistant port director for the area that includes Beebe Plain, said the agents know who live there, but keeping track can be a challenge.
"It's always a fine line," Rabideau said. "We do the best we can to keep an eye on it. We do what we have to do, security first, but we also want the support of the locals."
The DuMoulins' house has entrances from the United States and Canada. Agents have come to know the people who live in the house, currently vacant, and allow them to move back and forth freely as long as they stay in the house or the tiny front or backyard. There's a small granite border marker just outside the front door.
There is a gate hidden in a backyard hedge. DuMoulin said U.S. agents wanted to be sure the gate was wired shut. It is.
A line laid across the floor of an upstairs bedroom shows where the actual border runs, and DuMoulin pays property taxes to both countries, USA Today reported.
Showings and 'awkwardness'
Real estate agent Rosemary Lalime said in late May that the house had been shown about 10 times. There have been a dozen or so more showings or appointments booked in the past few weeks.
All but one person has come from the United States. One man called from Toronto.
"He was inquiring more about the border situation and if he bought it, what are his rights," Lalime said. "I put him in touch with the Border Patrol."
Brian DuMoulin said that usually, the agents from both countries know who they are, but he spoke of a time when a new Canadian border agent saw him, his wife and her sister standing in front of the house, "a good 18 feet into the States." He demanded they report to the Canadian border post.
"He simply didn't know," DuMoulin said, noting it took about 45 minutes to resolve the situation after the agent called his superiors.
"That's the awkwardness," he said. "If there is an awkwardness, it's that you can't just go this way or this way, you've got to go through (the ports of entry) and then back through."