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You can buy an entire town in Georgia for the cost of a typical home in San Francisco

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 3/2/2019 Kari Paul
a house that has a sign on the side of a building: The town of Toomsboro, Georgia is up for sale for about the same price of a typical San Francisco home. © MarketWatch photo illustration/www.toomsboroforsale.com, Getty Images The town of Toomsboro, Georgia is up for sale for about the same price of a typical San Francisco home.

If you are thinking about buying new property, head south for low prices.

Prospective buyers can get almost an entire city in the state of Georgia for about the same price of a typical home in San Francisco, according to an advertisement that appeared on Craigslist this week. Some 37 parcels of property and 40 acres of land are for sale in Toomsboro, Georgia, for $1.7 million.

Property for sale in the town of 700 people includes an abandoned restaurant, a syrup mill, an opera house, an old bank, and a railroad depot. Calls to the number listed on the sales website went unanswered, but it appears the town has been on the market since 2012, when it was first listed at $2.5 million.

“The owners are hoping to see the Toomsboro real-estate property in the right hands,” a sales website says. “New owners that understand [its] uniqueness and the importance of preserving historic properties.”

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The town was previously purchased by David Bumgardner with plans of turning it into a tourist attraction, according to Atlanta Magazine. The $1.7 million price tag for so much property is a bargain compared to most of the U.S. — it’s about the same as the median cost of a single home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Some 81% of homes in San Francisco were worth $1 million or more as of November 2018, according to a study from real-estate website Trulia. Only 3.6% of all homes nationwide were $1 million then, Trulia found.

Prices in the South are traditionally lower, said Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at online real estate database company Zillow (Z) Small towns in the U.S. have been on decline for years and the U.S. Federal Reserve said many rural residents have experienced “permanent job loss” as factories close and the labor force shifts to service-based jobs from manufacturing

“It comes [down] to economic vitality and jobs,” she said.

Related video: 43% of Californians can’t afford to live in state (provided by KCRA Sacramento)

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Georgia is ranked 25th in the country for lowest property taxes at 0.91%. It’s also the 31st “best state” in America, according to the 2018 Best State Rankings from U.S. & World News Report, based on its cost of living, quality of life, education, and health care.

Because of Toomsboro’s historic structures, it’s more likely a commercial buyer will come preserve it as some kind of attraction rather than use it for personal reasons, said Ben Mizes, founder and chief executive officer of listings site Clever Real Estate.

“Location is everything in real estate, which is why you’re seeing such a relatively cheap price,” he said. “I imagine a quirky, wealthy investor will come along and buy it for the right price eventually.”

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