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Living on the (Very) Cheap in Detroit

A recent op-ed in the New York Times proves the existence of the $100 home, which has become a reality in parts of Detroit.

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You’ve started hearing rumors about it: A friend of a friend bought a row house in North Philly for $10,000. Someone somebody knows picked up a fixer-upper in Cleveland for $5,000. But $100 for a home? Cheaper than a high-end tent? Surely a myth.

Not according to a recent op-ed in the New York Times, which transports readers to Detroit, the de facto capital of the economic recession, where unemployment, foreclosures and blight are rampant. The vast majority of the news coming out of the city is bad, but some enterprising, creative professionals are heading to the city to invest in real estate they see as too cheap to pass up.

The piece’s author, Toby Barlow, explains that he left Brooklyn for Detroit, where he found a $100,000 town house in a Mies van der Rohe development downtown. But he knows some people who have spent four digits— and even three— on properties in the city:

Ah, the mythical $100 home. We hear about these low-priced “opportunities” in down-on-their-luck cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland, but we never meet anyone who has taken the plunge. Understandable really, for if they were actually worth anything then they would cost real money, right? Who would do such a preposterous thing?

The $100 home, of course, needed a lot of work, as did a run-down bungalow another couple scooped up for $1,900. But the owners saw opportunity in starting from scratch: The bungalow had been stripped of its wiring, so its owner decided to install energy-efficient features like solar electricity and low-energy appliances. Artists— some from as far away as Europe— are seeing the city as a laboratory for new urban architecture and art projects.

Barlow, a writer and marketing professional who works with JWT Team Detroit, will speak at Next American City’s upcoming URBANEXUS event in Detroit, where talk about disconnect between the preconceived notions about the city and the reality of moving into Detroit. To find out more about the event, click here.

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Tags: real estatedetroit

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