Detroit Housing = ~$0


People have tried to take me to task when I differentiate between stocks and houses. The half joking quote is "The difference between stocks and houses is, outside of Love Canal & Detroit, houses don’t go to zero."

As you can see from the attached web page listings, that is only the slightest of exaggeration, as there are quite a few house in Detroit for sale at $100 each.

And, if you search for $0 – $5,000 price range in Detroit, MI, you will find 1,397 properties in that range, out of 20,881 properties for sale.

Why is "zero" only a sleight exaggeration? Renting an apartment (no property tax, no maintenance obligations, no heating costs) is cheaper in Detroit than owning a home — even one that costs $100 . . .

click for more listings



Thanks, Pete!



Detroit, MI Property Listings

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Estragon commented on Feb 27

    Unlike a stock, a house can be worth less than zero. If the home becomes uninhabitable (as I suspect those listed in the piece are), utility is zero while carry costs continue, and demolition and remediation costs may exceed land value. It eventually happens in many one-industry and resource towns.

    Maybe Detroit is just be a large version of a typical shut-mine ghost town.

  2. Scribe commented on Feb 27

    Notice that several of the listings require pre-approval of funds.

    A pre-approval for a $100.00 house.

  3. Bob A commented on Feb 27


  4. Michael Schumacher commented on Feb 27

    What is missing in that is the
    “buy it now” button

    ala Ebay….


  5. Ross commented on Feb 27

    I noticed on one of the houses the ‘owner’ stated he would consider donating to charity.

    Why doesn’t Habitat For Humanity modify their charter to include rehabs? J.C. and his followers could swarm in with tons of decon and duct tape and make a real difference. It would also be of help to the hood.

  6. Kevin Depew commented on Feb 27

    I found a 30-year mortgage for one of these places. They will allow a 3% down payment, $3, which means the monthly nut will be .83 cents. Unfortunately, the mortgage insurance to make sure I don’t default runs $45 a month until I hit the 20% equity threshold. I for one sure can’t afford $45.83 a month.

  7. Don commented on Feb 27

    Location, Location, Location…

  8. DT commented on Feb 27

    On the first page – the one for $399…does it come with the car? :D

    Seriously speaking, $1250 selling agent commission on a $399 house…and for a right disaster (*cough*…“fair condition” in realtor speak). Wow…

    At least they’re trying to get people pre-qualified now.

  9. stuart commented on Feb 27

    Oh jesus, killing myself here. Check out that first one for $100. It’s been gutted by fire and the description is listing room dimensions. Master bedroom 10 x 10… what master bedroom??? It’s gone up in flames…my side hurts… LOL One full bathroom. .. LOL did have one full bathroom more like it… The description of the properties are utterly ridiculous, not just for this one. Talk about lipstick on a pig…oh damn…

  10. Joe commented on Feb 27


    On the $400 one:

    They abbreviate every other word, but use more letters to misuse ‘no’

  11. BCS commented on Feb 27

    You know your dealing with a sophisticated seller, when they have “singed addendums”.

  12. Scribe commented on Feb 27

    The sales info for the 2nd house pictured (Radcliffe St) is below. It was a $110K house two years ago.

    Sales Information
    5 sale record(s) found.
    Sale Date Sale Price Instrument Grantor Grantee Terms Of Sale Liber/Page
    10/07/2005 $110,000.00 WD ISAAC, CHERYL J COX, DANIEL ARMS LENGTH
    04/01/1988 $3,550.00 PTA NQ 23744:02180
    08/01/1970 $14,000.00 WD ARMS LENGTH 00057:09280

  13. Lars commented on Feb 27

    30 year fixed rate or Zero down ARM?

  14. TheDeathStar commented on Feb 27

    Awesome…now i know where to go after i only have about $200 left in my checking account.

  15. Ross commented on Feb 27


    I know what singed addendums feel like. Got mine in 68 over Uncle Ho’s residence.

  16. cinefoz commented on Feb 27

    One one hand, they look a little like fixer uppers. Some might need a little work here and there. But, a little paint and some curtains, a comfortable chair, a good tv and a satellite dish and anywhere could be a castle. Buy 2, one for you and one for your car.

    Maybe those poor homeless sex offenders in Florida who live under bridges could get bus tickets and 5 $20s each. Two problems get solved at once.

    Now, here’s one problem. What if they don’t appraise out or what if the payday loan people can’t sell the paper if they buyer defaults? I wonder what these are valued at in the tranches? Probably only Kreskin or Criswell knows.

  17. Street Creds commented on Feb 27

    12387 Lorreto looks like an interesting property. Sales price is $400. or $2.00 per month. A better picture shows the second floor outside had caught FIRE. This is the first sign of a recovery, affordable prices.

  18. JudgeJudy commented on Feb 27

    This land is your land, this land is my land.

  19. alexp commented on Feb 27

    Obviously, bashing Detroit doesn’t take a lot of imagination. It’s been a pathetic shame for decades, and continues to be one.

    But one shouldn’t be too smug about this sort of thing. It could easily be that Motown is just ahead of the curve on this. Any number of crappy post-manufacturing, post-textile cities throughout the rust belt and rural-ish south are likely to have similar problems.

    Housing bubble exurbia isn’t looking great either. Too many houses, not enough jobs, 90 mile commutes, and a high number of houses owned by negligent banks isn’t the stuff of great neighborhoods.

  20. DonKei commented on Feb 27

    I have to change my moniker. There’s another “Don” posting here–“location,location,location” was his previous.

    These houses look like houses for bears that Goldilocks might visit.

    Seriously, my little hometown (Birmingham)is experiencing a car-building economic boom. It is the anti-Detroit for now. I wonder where that leaves us in 30 years.

  21. MarkTX commented on Feb 27

    Heck, if Uncle Sam will bump up
    my tax “rebate” check from $300 to $600,
    I could afford to buy one of the “upscale”
    $500 starter homes…..

  22. TheFinancialNinja commented on Feb 27

    Durable Goods and New Home sales sucked. Fannie Mae sucked. Plus all of the economic releases yesterday sucked… and the market breaks UP, on a technical break of a Triangle formation.

    Check out these simply insane facts, figures and charts.

  23. Paul in NYC commented on Feb 27

    This is happening now, and will happen everywhere in the industrial Northeast as well. Cities like Schenectady and Buffalo NY have tons of housing which nobody needs or wants anymore, and will have to be bulldozed in many cases.
    Even apparently healthy places like Massachusetts will suffer this fate, as the manufacturing infrastructure is abandoned and/or recylced. The future of many of these areas is not too bright with an economy in full recession- or of course worse.

  24. Marcus Aurelius commented on Feb 27

    The house at 7727 RADCLIFFE ST has SINGED ADDENDUMS.

    That’s what happens when you let your addendums get too close to the fire.

  25. Pat G. commented on Feb 27

    My father moved us from Omaha to Detroit when I was five so I grew up there and in some of the surrounding burbs. The auto industry is its big claim to fame and quite frankly Toyota and Honda have been eating their lunch. Due in part to the Big 3 never taking the small car market seriously which began in the 70s (oil embargo). I guess the government never took it seriously either or we wouldn’t still be “addicted to oil”. Who was asleep at the switch then?

  26. Detroit Housing Market commented on Feb 27

    MS thinks it’s going to $0

    Cinefoz thinks it’s going to $200

    and they will call each other names all day long over who’s right

  27. Schizohedron commented on Feb 27

    Finally, housing within reach of my coin jar! Too bad the plane ticket to get out there for a walkthrough will cost more than the property.

  28. Marcus Aurelius commented on Feb 27

    Looked around a bit more. Actually, it’s pretty scary. These were solid working class homes at one time. Lots of fire damage. Signs of social breakdown. A slo-mo NOLA.

  29. michael schumacher commented on Feb 27

    No I don’t think it’s going to “0”

    In those cases it’s already at or below.

    You (and others like you) are bordering on delusional if you think I don’t have positions that take advantage of the lack of reality in the market.

    But keep thinking you know……..that’s a sure sign of money leaving accounts. I don’t claim to know but I sure don’t offer up claims of “goldilocks on fire” without any backup…. like a certain person here continues to do.

    This has been the best start of the year, by far, for me. So keep thinking you have me figured out……

    The perception of knowledge is what Hank and Ben are furiously trying to project…..don’t get caught up in assumption of it all.


  30. donna commented on Feb 27

    I think we ought to make every GM, Ford and Chrysler executive go live in one of these houses for a few weeks.

    Seriously. They ought to start realizing what they’ve done to these people – and to their country.

  31. Pat G. commented on Feb 27

    “Seriously. They ought to start realizing what they’ve done to these people – and to their country.”

    Unfortunately, they have theirs and could care less about anyone or anything else.

  32. Paul commented on Feb 27

    So, anyone who needs lots of space to store inventory for a business which sells online should be able to cut overhead to almost nothing by leasing/buying property like this.

    Obviously, it would have to be in an area where you don’t need a private army to protect you and your stuff, but online no one knows or cares where you are located.

    I’m not saying this is an answer for everyone or that online businesses will turn around the economy. I just find the unrelenting negativity in the comments here gets really old. Someone who figures out how to use cheap space like this will have a huge advantage over competitors paying market rates for space.

  33. s0mebody commented on Feb 27

    “… and the market breaks UP, on a technical break of a Triangle formation.”

    All the man hours poured into business schools, into MBAs, all so we can fixate on triangle formation. Business School: The Societal Rube Goldberg Apparatus.

  34. Winston Munn commented on Feb 27

    Looks like a Scorsese remake of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

  35. bobbyside commented on Feb 27

    Can my $1 million house 25 miles away be far behind?

  36. bobbyside commented on Feb 27

    Can my $1 million house 25 miles away be far behind?

  37. Walker commented on Feb 27

    From reading the descriptions, a few of those properties are obviously rentals mislisted.

  38. Dogwood commented on Feb 27

    Pull up Detroit in Google Earth then zoom in, especially northwest of downtown. The carry cost of these wrecks would be high, but there are literally hundreds of vacant lots with lower carry costs if you’re looking for urban land at a good price.

    I could probably buy an acre of city land for less than what my farmer friend would charge for bare ground. Of course, farm ground lacks the charm of local drug dealers, prostitutes and drive-by shootings

    Detroit Blog has some very interesting posts on the history, architecture and culture of the neighborhoods.

    In one post from I think 2006, he actually has pics of pheasants running around vacant lots. People are leaving the city, but wildlife is returning, including pheasant and turkeys.

  39. Dick Jones, SVP Omni Consumer Products commented on Feb 28

    Our plan should be to replace “Old Detroit” with “Delta City”, with a 21st century infrastructure, charter schools, tax breaks to bring in new industry, and efficient services.

  40. Street Creds commented on Feb 28

    You would need to replace all the old politicians first to do that. Otherwise, they will let the city return to weeds. This didn’t happen to Detroit in a vacuum.

  41. flipper commented on Feb 28

    I wonder if it is economical to scrap those for timber. Obviously all metall have already been removed.

  42. Finance Monk commented on Feb 28

    I’m reminded when Bart Simpson bought an abandoned warehouse downtown for $1. Those can’t be real…

    I wonder what the yearly property tax amount is on those. I guess pennies are good for something after all.

  43. Scribe commented on Feb 28

    The property tax for the 2nd house in the picture was $2900/yr. I would imagine property insurance would be difficult and expensive to obtain.

    Many of them are fire damaged and probably cannot be legally occupied therefore the structures are basically worthless. I am sure anything remotely valuable (like copper pipes and wiring) was removed long ago.

    Apparently many of the fires are set by the owners (who blame arsonists) to collect the insurance money.

  44. Dave commented on Feb 28

    The City of Detroit will sell you office buildings for $1 if you agree to fix them up (some of them literally have trees growing out of their roofs)

    At the Detroit School book depository there are mushrooms growing out of workbooks that have sat for a decade or more.

    Check the faq section of the Detroit city website for interesting q’s you won’t find in many other places.

    Par for the course for a city run by Democrats for decades.

  45. LouisWu commented on Feb 29

    Dave- – The bad news is the Republicans aren’t doing so well these days either. George and Arnie?

    NOW WHAT DO WE DO??????

  46. Ricardo commented on Mar 25

    I want a house in the US! In Spain, Government builds “cheap” houses for young people and their prize is more or less 180.000 euros (280.000 US dollars)

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