SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Less than three years after they moved in with cameras rolling and hundreds of volunteers cheering, Jim and Carmen Simpson have moved out of their Extreme Makeover house.
A “Sold” sign sits in the manicured yard of the now-empty mint green neo-Victorian, which sold for $442,000 last week.Carmen Simpson confirmed the house at East 55th and Abercorn streets was sold but declined to elaborate.
“I actually don’t have an interest in carrying on the publicity,” she said. “I don’t know anything about the buyers.”
Buyer’s agent Scott Shippy of Realty Executives Coastal Empire said the new owners are a military family from Hawaii. They weren’t interested in the home’s reality TV pedigree.
“They didn’t know a thing about it,” Shippy said. “They looked at many homes in Ardsley and were disappointed the homes were all so old and tattered. Even at the sales prices listed they needed hundreds of thousands in renovations."
“I said, ‘Surely you wouldn’t be interested in this particular listing because as a matter of fact it was the Extreme Makeover house. They were interested in it if it was a good fit.”
They closed on the house Aug. 23.
The house, built in six days in November 2010 by an army of local volunteers working around the clock, was first listed more than a year ago for $523,000. At the time, the Simpsons indicated they had outgrown the house with the birth of their fourth child. The listed price was reduced to $490,000 in July.
The family was chosen for the now-cancelled ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in part because of the medical situation of their then-youngest child Zoe. He was born with hydrops fetalis and was not expected to live but beat the odds. The house included a therapy room and heated outdoor pool to address his ongoing needs.
Led by J.T. Turner Construction, scores of local businesses donated time and materials to build and furnish the four-bedroom, three-bath home. Because of a loophole in the federal tax code, the couple didn’t have to claim its value as income.
A fundraiser paid off the mortgage on their old house, which they had bought at foreclosure about a year earlier for $67,525.They received other gifts, too, including a new Ford Explorer, three iPads from St. Andrew’s School, a desktop computer and two notebook computers from Savannah computer firm Infiniti, a lifetime family membership to the Telfair Museum of Art, a year’s supply of milk from Chik-fil-A, and $100,000 worth of scholarships from South University.
Still, maintaining the home proved challenging. Jim Simpson is a minister who runs his own audio-visual business, Shift Creative, as well as the church he founded, City Church Savannah. Carmen has described herself as a stay-at-home mom who home schools.
The couple paid its annual city and county property tax bill of more than $8,000 months late and with penalty and interest of about $1,000 for both 2011 and 2012.
Carmen Simpson said her family is staying in the Savannah area.“Our lives are here,” she said. “Our son’s therapy is here. Our church is here.”