TikTokker trades her way from hairpin to house in less than 2 years

Demi Skipper now owns a house in Tennessee after an extraordinary journey.

ByJoyce Philippe via via logo
December 23, 2021, 2:17 PM

A San Francisco woman's mission to trade a single hairpin for a house is officially complete.

"After 28 trades and all the ups and downs, I finally did it," said 30-year-old Demi Skipper in a video posted on TikTok to mark the milestone. "I can't believe this!"

To get the house, Skipper traded a solar-powered trailer she got from Canada. The house, valued at $79,800, is in Clarksville, Tennessee, around 45 minutes outside of Nashville.

It has two bedrooms, one bathroom and a backyard. She described it as a "fixer-upper" and said she plans to move into it in January with her husband and their dog to start renovations. She flew out to see the house on the day after Thanksgiving.

"Even on the flight I was preparing for something to go wrong, but it totally worked. Now I've got the keys and the deed, and there's not a mortgage or rent. It's just a house that's fully mine," Skipper told "Good Morning America."

Making trades

In May 2020, Skipper was quarantined at home during the pandemic when she watched a TEDx Talk on YouTube featuring Kyle MacDonald, a blogger who, in 2005, used a red paperclip and made a series of trades until he got a house. Skipper was inspired to take the unconventional path to homeownership and created the TikTok account @trademeproject to document her journey. The account currently has 5 million followers and more than 60 million likes.

To get started, Skipper set two conditions: She couldn't spend money and couldn't trade with anyone she knew. Skipper's 28 trades started with a hairpin and included trading an iPhone 11 Pro Max for a 2008 Dodge Caravan, a MacBook Pro for an electric bike food cart hybrid, and three consecutive sneaker swaps.

Along the way, Skipper said she realized that some items were harder to give away than others because of their niche appeal. For swap No. 25 on her journey, she explained how she strategized to get an exclusive Chipotle Celebrity card, which grants users unlimited Chipotle for a year, up to $20,000.

"I went on LinkedIn, found a bunch of people that worked at Chipotle in management, and I just started messaging people," she said. "At that point, I had a Honda CR-V."

After the fast-food chain's team showed no interest in the trade, Skipper researched the company's partnership with various farming nonprofits and managed to trade the SUV for three tractors from Oregon. Chipotle ended up accepting the tractors and gave her the Celebrity Card in return for her 26th trade. She then learned about a flower shop owner in Canada whose employees described her as "Chipotle's No. 1 fan," and Skipper contacted her.

The woman gave Skipper a large solar-powered trailer, but due to COVID-19-related border closures, the second-to-last trade turned into a nearly 5-month process to get the trailer into the United States, she said.

Once the border reopened, she was able to return to her mission. On a road trip to see the trailer in person, she got in touch with a woman from Tennessee to set up what would become her final trade.

"We started getting more specific, and she says, 'I'm a home flipper, and I have a bunch of houses in a small town in Tennessee," Skipper recounted. "I'm interested in the trailer, and I would trade you a house."

Skipper decided to bend her rule of not spending any money and paid to ship the trailer to Tennessee.

Now at the end of her journey, she said she plans on starting over and teaching others how to start their own trading adventures.

"There's only one person besides me that's ever done it once, but I want to be the first person to ever do it two times," Skipper said. "I get so many messages of people saying 'I'm looking around my own house, and, like, it makes it feel like I could also have a house or college tuition or a car.' That feels really special that it's making things seem more within reach."

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