For sale: Small South Dakota town, bar included


Have you dreamed of owning your own town? Then you're in luck – Swett, South Dakota, is on the market for $399,000.

Lance Benson, a businessman who owns a traveling concession company, plans to sell the town, which is an unincorporated hamlet in Bennett County, roughly two hours southeast of Rapid City, the Rapid City Journal reports. He and his wife are the only two that live in the town, which used to have a population of 40 in the 1940s.

Included in the purchase is 6.16 acres, a three-bedroom house, three trailer houses, a large garage, a liquor license and the Swett Tavern, according to the Coldwell Banker listing.

The Swett Tavern is what keeps the town alive, the Rapid City Journal says. It's the only bar in a 10-mile radius, so it's a popular gathering place for a small group of locals.

Benson, who bought the town in 1998 and gave it to his ex-wife in a divorce before reclaiming it in 2012, is sad to sell the town, but he wants to focus on his core business, according to the Rapid City Journal.

What does it mean to own a town?

Although putting an entire town on the market isn't very common, Forbes says, this isn't the first time a South Dakota town has gone up for sale. In 2011, the Iglesia ni Cristo church, established in the Philippines in 1914, bought Scenic, South Dakota, for just under $800,000, the Associated Press reports.

Not much has been done with the town since it was purchased, and the church hasn't commented on why it bought the town, the Rapid City Journal says.

Last fall, a Wyoming town, with a population of one, went up for auction and sold for $900,000. CBS News also gives examples of towns that have gone on the market in recent years.

So what does it mean to own a town? Towns can't truly be bought and sold like a regular house. A town that's for sale is legally either an abandoned town or an unincorporated rural community – so it receives many county services, MSN Real Estate says.

The MSN article goes on to detail how much work it is to own a town, comparing the town's owners to landlords and the town's residents to renters. People who own a town have to deal with water and sewer hookups, garbage cleanup, etc.

MSN also outlines several towns that have gone on the market again and again because they've proven to be more work than expected.

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