Detroit Real Estate is What You Make of It

My husband and I proceeded with caution when we bought our house in Detroit last spring. It was a leap of faith considering all of the negative things that people say about the city (some of it true, some of it blown out of proportion.) We settled in a historic district on the West Side with beautiful brick homes and neighbors who take pride in the community. Despite this, there were three abandoned houses on our block. On the next block over, there were two “For Sale” signs.

In the last few months, the abandoned houses have been purchased and rehabbed. The “For Sale” signs are disappearing one by one. The best news of all is that families buying the homes, not just investors hungry for a quick dollar. From what I’ve seen around Detroit, homeowners tend to take better care of their property than landlords.

The good news is that people are moving in. The bad news is that they’re paying less than $40,000 on average or less for a house. Some homes are selling for as little as $7,000, which is hard to believe because a few years ago you couldn’t find anything in this neighborhood for under $100,000.

My husband and I aren’t concerned about the property values because we didn’t buy a house as an investment, we bought it to live and enjoy. I couldn’t help but laugh when my next door neighbor told me that she paid $12,000 for her house… in 1961. You probably could find a house in our area today for that price or less.

In my opinion, Detroit real estate is one of America’s best kept secrets. The evidence of the booming economy from decades ago are all around me. Courtesy of the auto industry and stable union jobs, everyone from the executive to the assembly line worker realized the dream of homeownership. Thousands of beautiful brick homes sprung up in every corner of the city.

The landscape has changed and employment is a lot more scarce now. One side effect of this is that you can find great real estate for less than the cost of a European vacation. If you’re looking for four bedroom mini mansions with hardwood floors, crown molding and leaded glass windows, it’s here. If you’re looking for a sunroom, spacious back yard and a maid’s quarters, you can find that too.

My husband and I took a gamble on Detroit and it’s paid off. Everyone asks us what it’s like to live here and the answer might sound cliche but it’s what you make of it.

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