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Success in Albion, New York

We used to live in a tiny mobile home south of Holley," she remembers, shaking her head. "The kids were all still home then, and it was just so crowded."

Those were not the happiest of days for Mary Finnegan, and when she divorced, it seemed like the days were about to get even tougher. "I knew we had to move-- that meant myself and three young boys-- and I really had no idea where I was going. I literally started packing, then started looking."

And what she found wasn't encouraging. "Rents everywhere were just out of sight. I was looking at almost a thousand dollars a month just to rent a house big enough for me and the boys, and with security deposit, it was a lousy deal." Then she realized she shouldn't be renting after all-- she should be buying.
"That idea changed everything. Suddenly the idea of getting an older place didn't bother me any more-- I didn't have much money, but I did have plenty of elbow grease. I looked for the worst possible house in the best possible neighborhood-- and I got really lucky."

What she found was a diamond in the rough-- a home that had been so poorly kept up that the town had been thinking of tearing it down. "It was a mess." Shaking her head she looks around. "There was garbage everywhere, the back end was falling in, the paint was totally gone. But I looked at it hard and saw there was a really beautiful little house hidden there."

Working with a Realtor, Mary made an offer she never thought would fly. "Nineteen thousand dollars, I told them. Take it or leave it. And they took it!"

That was almost eight years ago now. Two of her sons are married and (almost) gone, and the third is about to graduate from Albion High. "Now I have a space where I can write," she says, waving toward the computer in one corner of the living room. A beam of sunlight cuts through the stained-glass, tinting the array of plants that help this book-lined room work for her. "It was a lot of work-- even more than I thought it would take-- but it was a labor of love."

And what's it worth today? "No idea. Twice what I paid for it, at least. Probably more. But I'm not interested in selling." She gazes out the window, where her grandchildren play on the tree-lined sidewalks. "I really love this place."