A young US couple couldn't believe their luck when they found it - a renovator's dream with original hardwood floors and crown moulding, for just $500 at a tax auction.
But when they returned to board up their newly purchased home for renovation, it had been razed to the ground.
"When we drove up, I thought what I was seeing couldn't be right," Kristen Diven told the Detroit News. "In the past few weeks, it's almost like being in mourning."
Diven and her partner and fellow artist Micho McAdow had planned to spend about $8,000 on DIY renovations before moving in next Spring.
Instead, the home had been mistakenly demolished by a state authority as part of a program to eliminate blight near neighbourhood schools.
The tale of how the home, with a newly replaced roof, came to be slated for demolition is reads as a litany of errors and delays complicated by multiple levels of state and local government.
City officials ordered the unoccupied house demolished as a fire risk in June last year.
Meanwhile, county officials placed the property on the market at auction just a month later.
Following the sale, city officials say it should not have remained on the demolition list, but the state government program went ahead with the demolition, along with the destruction of 11 other ineligible properties.
As a gesture of good faith, Detroit city gave the couple a list of empty, city-owned properties with an offer that they could take any one.
But Diven said those properties didn't compare to the two-story, five bedroom home she and her partner had lost.
The $500 refund they received will no doubt be cold comfort to the couple as they face a renewed house hunt through an icy Detroit winter.