Why buy a house when you can buy a whole town?
The teeny tiny town of Swett, South Dakota, is now asking just $250,000 – less than the average asking price of a single home in most states, according to Trulia.
In Swett, that price tag gets you more than 6 acres of prairie, a garage/tire shop, a home, and the local bar, Swett Tavern.
Swett came to be around 1932, when a post office was established inside a grocery store, owned by a farmer named Swett. At its peak in the 1940s, the town was home to around 40 people. Most recently, it was owned by a man named Lance Benson, who bought it in 1998 but lost it in a divorce. He gained it back in 2012, then tried to sell it a year and a half ago for $399,000.
He lost it again last month, when the bank took hold of the property and slashed the price tag nearly in half, the Rapid City Journal reports.
Now it’s a ghost town, its only home allegedly haunted and Swett Tavern shuttered.
The town’s modern iteration centered around that bar, which has stood, its back against tall prairie grasses, for “as long as anyone can remember,” listing agent Stacie Montgomery told Yahoo Real Estate last year.
At the time, the bar was still drawing patrons: local cowboys, pheasant hunters and wheat growers. One told the Rapid City Journal that Swett is “pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins.”
Ray Runnels, 27, a fourth-generation patron of the bar, said a friend told him Swett looked like “a good place to get killed,” and a man passing through commented that “you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.”
Despite that kind of reputation, Montgomery, of Coldwell Banker Lewis Kirkeby Hall, tells the Rapid City Journal that she’s had a fair amount of interest since the initial listing: “people who wanted to be their own mayor, people who wanted to live off-grid, several production companies thinking about reality shows, hunters who wanted to create a hunting lodge, or somebody who wants to own a bar.”
A production company pitched the idea of rebuilding the town in a TV show called “Swett Equity.”
“But the weirdest one came from a guy out of Nebraska who wanted to bring in 2,000 women from Russia, and 600 men who were felons, and he was going to build acrylic houses and run cameras 24 hours a day,” Montgomery tells the paper. “I told him he needed to call the state because I couldn’t deal with the permits for anything like that.”
She wound up with three written offers. All fell through.
The bank that now owns it made a few improvements to it, according to the Journal. It removed three decaying mobile homes and a transport trunk rotting on the property. The bank even installed new signs for the town.
“The old ones had bullet holes in them,” Montgomery says.
Even so, Swett is not a municipality in the technical sense. According to South Dakota state code, you need at least 100 people or 30 registered voters for that – though you can incorporate with just one person by forming a municipality for historical and educational purposes.
Given its sudden fame over the past year, perhaps an intrepid buyer could make the case for its historical impact.
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