The owner of this $4.9 million houseboat is jumping ship

A houseboat docked in Santa Barbara, California, has hit the market for $4.9 million.

The nearly 50-year-old Thomas Jefferson spans 1,300 square feet, according to seller Jeffrey Wapner. It has everything from electricity and plumbing to a laundry room and a dining area that seats 10 people. Santa Barbara Harbor Home Voucher is included in the asking price.

Wapner, a longtime surfer who grew up in the Santa Barbara area, owns Paradise Is Divided Into Blue And Green, a company that makes beach bags from recycled sails. When he returned to the Santa Barbara area from New York about eight years ago to be closer to his family, he didn’t want to live in a traditional single-family home, he said. Instead, he searched for boats and ships for sale.

When Wapner found a $650,000 Thomas Jefferson listing, he bought it with its coupon, which was included in the listing price, he said. He declined to reveal how much he paid for the house, which was approximately 700 square feet at the time.

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The Thomas Jefferson is one of only four houseboats allowed in the port, according to Wabner, who said its location became serious after the city banned new houseboats in 2015. The house is not moving on its own, but it could be Towed by boat if necessary.

After about a year of living in the Thomas Jefferson, Wapner discovered termite damage, mold and improper framing. “I wasn’t going to remodel the entire house,” he said. “But I’m not the type of person who can live on what I know is a rotting, sinking ship.”

With his father’s help, Wapner demolished the house and rebuilt it, replacing almost all of the siding at a cost of about $2 million. He added that he returned to the residence after completing work there about two years ago.

The first floor contains a workshop and laundry room, while the second floor contains a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and dining area. The bathroom has two sinks and a skylight over the shower. “At night, when you can see the stars and the moon twinkling, it’s a great place to bathe,” Babner said, adding that when the pier is lit up at night, it reminds him of living in New York.

The workshop is large enough to be converted into a bedroom if the new owner chooses, and its closet has high-pressure plumbing so it can be converted into a bathroom, Wapner said.

The house rises and falls with the tide and occasionally sways, but Wapner said he barely notices it. To precipitate rain, he installed drains extending from the roof to a pipe that drains water into the harbour.

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Wapner said he decided to sell the house because he wanted to travel more.

Patricia Rubin of Sotheby’s International Realty, who shares the listing with colleagues Alan Melkonian and Bryony Atkinson of Maisonre, said the floating home is difficult to price. They looked at the cost per square foot of nearby waterfront homes for sale, which range in price from about $6 million to just under $12 million, according to Rubin.

“This house is so specific that when I told some people I was listing it, they said ‘Oh, is that the big beautiful brown house?’ We were dying to get into it,” she said.

In August, the median sale price in Santa Barbara was $2 million, up about 23% compared to the same period last year, according to data from Redfin.

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