14-year-old buys old, run-down home in cash, then transforms it into a stunning home on her own


Most people spend a majority of their 20’s and 30’s working hard to save up enough money to buy a house, but 14-year-old Willow Tufano accomplished this dream in just a year and a half! Not your typical teenager, Willow spent her weekends buying used items from garage sales, foreclosures, and auctions and selling them for a profit. In less than two years, she had saved $6,000.


Unlike most teens (and adults, for that matter!), Willow did not turn and spend her cash on items such as clothes, a new phone, or other material possessions. Rather, she held onto it, and then, when Florida’s housing market was low, bought a house.

This incredibly savvy teenager found a home listed online for $16,000. After doing a bit of research, she learned that the home was actually valued at $100,000, but because the housing market took a dip, and because it was selling as a short sale, she was able to score it for a fraction of what it was worth! Talk about a good find.


That’s not the best part though. As if $16,000 was not a good enough deal, Willow was able to talk down the real estate agent another $4,000. After agreeing on a selling price of just $12,000 cash–for a house in Florida–Willow then asked her mom to go halvies with her. Her mom, being the supportive person that she is, agreed.

Her dad, though, took a little convincing. “I had a paper route when I was a kid,” Willow says in imitation of her dad. “You shouldn’t be [buying a house]!” But now, Willow says, her dad is very supportive and on board with her homeownership goals.

Many probably want to know what a 14-year-old does with a house. Well, Willow is just the teen to tell you. On her interview with Ellen (because when you’re 14 and buy your own home, you score a one-on-one interview with America’s favorite talk show host), she explains how she fixed up the three-bedroom home and now rents if for $700 a month. “So now you have an income–you’re a landlord at 14-years-old,” Ellen says, just to clarify for all of us who are still in shock over this young person’s entrepreneurial success.

Ellen asks Willow what she originally intended to do with the money.

“At first I didn’t know what I was going to do with, and I was just like, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with this, I’m going to save it.” She then explains how her homeschooling set up enabled her to go out and pick up “treasures,” as she calls them, whenever they were placed on the curb and before anyone else could get to them.

“Garbage day, used treasure day!” she tells Ellen of how she came across her products. “People throw things at the curb for garbage day, and it’s crazy what people throw away – it’s profit!”

Now that she owns her home and makes an income from renters, Willow plans on buying her mom out before buying a second home. A truly inspiring, hardworking and poised young woman, Willow used her creativity (and knowledge of eBay) to achieve the American Dream. She is a symbol of hope for everyone who is feeling down on their luck, as if a 14-year-old can buy a home with the cash she made by selling stuff on the side, you can too.

To meet this money-savvy teen and to see the surprise Ellen has in store for her, watch this clip below!