Lighthouses are cheap to buy — but not to keep

Buying a lighthouse may be cheaper than you think.

The federal government has put six decommissioned lighthouses up for auction, ranging in price from $10,000 to $25,000. But each of these properties can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate.

Since 2000, the government has auctioned off about 55 lighthouses for such low prices. One buyer, Nick Korstad, paid $56,000 for a Massachusetts lighthouse in Fall River, only to learn that renovations would cost him between $300,000 to $400,000.

“It’s always falling apart,” said Korstad. “If you fix something, you know you’re going to fix it again.”

He turned Borden Flats into a weekend getaway for vacationers during the summer, and the $400-a-night he charges helps him keep up with preservation costs for the lighthouse. It is sold out every year.

“Managing a lighthouse is a full time job,” said Korstad. “When people purchase these, this is something they have to be aware of.” [NYT]