Less than meets the eye in 11-year-old’s ‘house flipping’ story

Let’s give credit where it’s due in the story of Madison Bue, 11, of West Salem, Wis., who is saving for college by flipping houses. One house, actually.

What a kid, eh?

The La Crosse Tribune covered the story last week, which earned a mention on NPR’s Morning Edition today. Great story.

“She is the most determined child I have ever seen,” her grandfather, Cliff LeCleir, tells the Tribune. “When she sets her mind on something she gets it done.”

You can do a lot as an 11-year-old when your grandfather fronts you all the money. And who can blame him? He loves his granddaughter and he’s got the cash.

She watches house-flipping shows and came up with the idea of flipping the homes to save money for college.

Her grandfather provided the cash loan, she ripped out some carpeting and tile and worked on the landscaping, and she hired her mother to help.

Her mother, Amanda Bue, also contributed — as an employee of BueZoo. Before she got the job, LeCleir said, Madison asked her mom to interview for the position and even negotiated the wage.

“I thought she would be a good worker as well as a ride to the house,” Madison said. “She’s done a lot. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Bue hired contractors for painting and other work. Madison said she hopes to have the renovations done in the next several weeks and to put the home on market soon after that.

She doesn’t know whether she’ll do another project next year. It was hard balancing work, extracurriculars such as dance lessons and a personal life with the project. But she was proud of what she accomplished and being able to share that with her friends at school.

“I am just really proud of myself,” she said. “Even though I am hot and sweaty and tired at the end of the day, I am really proud of all that I did that day. I’m excited to be able to tell my friends I accomplished this.”

She might, however, want to have a plan B for college, however, because house flipping is more than ripping out carpet and repainting, and planting new shrubbery. It’s hard work and can take months, not weeks, as any actual house-flipper will tell you.

In the meantime, you’re making mortgage payments that are almost 100 percent interest, not to mention the closing costs, a tough way to get ahead in a matter of weeks, particularly when you’re soaking money into hiring contractors. You’re not likely to get a dollar-for-dollar return on the investment.

It would be a swell story if an 11-year old could actually pay for college by flipping houses a few weeks after buying them.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way.

No doubt, Madison’s gumption will play a big part in her life’s success. So, too, will the randomness of the circumstances into which she was born.