Got $100? Welcome to your new Detroit home

This is a discussion on Got $100? Welcome to your new Detroit home within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Got $100? Welcome to your new Detroit home - CNN.com If an e-mail popped up in your inbox promising a house for $100, you'd expect ...

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    Senior Member Array CR2008's Avatar
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    Got $100? Welcome to your new Detroit home

    Got $100? Welcome to your new Detroit home - CNN.com

    If an e-mail popped up in your inbox promising a house for $100, you'd expect to see it sent from a guy in Nigeria asking you to wire him several thousand dollars first.


    Zeb Smith lies on his front lawn and spends a quiet afternoon with his neighbors.
    1 of 3 But this depressed housing market dream is real. And Detroit, Michigan, artist Jon Brumit and his wife, Sarah, are living it.

    The couple never counted on owning a home.

    "It's not that we have a little money," Jon Brumit said, laughing. "I'm saying we have no money."

    But the couple began entertaining the idea of a permanent nest when their friends Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, also artists, started taking advantage of foreclosures in the city, where the average home price dipped to $11,533 in April, according to the Detroit Association of Realtors.

    Dragging down the average are homes that are long abandoned or foreclosed on that are selling for pennies on the dollar. Detroit already had the lowest market value houses in Michigan before the latest rounds of job losses at GM and other huge employers, market analysts say.

    "Those artists are doing a good thing; they are at least helping to stabilize neighborhoods that would be all but lost," said Mike Shedlock, an investment adviser who blogs frequently about Detroit's economy.

    For less than a few thousand dollars, Cope and Reichert snapped up a dilapidated bungalow in a north Detroit neighborhood called "BanglaTown," for its unexpected mix of Bangladeshis, African-Americans, Polish and Ukrainians and the occasional shady character.

    Scrappers had cleaned the house to the bone. The copper had been stolen; the electrical wiring was stripped.

    But no matter. Here was a chance for Cope and Reichert, who run a popular Detroit art store, to rehabilitate the 1920s brick house into a bastion of energy savings, with solar panels, LED lights, recycled wood and high-end insulated windows.

    They're installing a security system that exemplifies elegant efficiency with hurricane-proof windows and steel doors replacing burglar bars. They are also experimenting with running their air-conditioning on a car battery.

    The trick was getting their friends not only to cheer the concept but invest in it by moving next door.

    "It was much easier than we thought it might be," Cope said. "We told everyone that Detroit is an interesting city to work in as an artist, and the neighborhood is diverse. But, really, it came down to money."

    "I kept telling Mitch, 'Wow those are an awesome, ridiculously good deals but if you find anything that's less, let me know," Brumit said. "Like, if something comes along for next to nothing, cool."

    A few weeks later, Cope e-mailed Brumit a photo of an abandoned home on his block. Its windows were boarded up and plywood was nailed across the front door. The huge hole in the roof was courtesy of the fire department. A neighbor said the house had been set on fire -- twice.

    Pricetag: $100. Brumit called a real estate agent with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who confirmed that bids on the foreclosed property started at $95 for the property, $5 for the house. There were no back taxes -- no one seemed to be sure who once owned the house, it had been empty for so long, Brumit said.

    Cope, also a designer and builder, and an inspector did a walk-through.

    "Inspection was fine and Mitch told me the foundation was good," Brumit said. "He just said, 'If you didn't mind scraping some peeling paint, doing some surface treatments, putting in new utilities, windows and repairing the roof ... this could be pretty interesting.'"

    Now, when he's not hauling loads of rubble away or knocking out walls to create a single, open studio space, Brumit's searching Craigslist for a furnace. In exchange for designing the business Web site of a local barn recycler, he's getting materials to turn that hole in his roof into a skylight.

    "I saw it as a project," the artist said. "I'm a builder. I've been building skateboards since I was 12."

    Skateboards are one thing. Rebuilding homes where the plumbing has been ripped out or the cabinets destroyed in a fit by an upset foreclosed homeowner is another. Michigan housing authorities acknowledge that there's little incentive for people who aren't quite as handy as Brumit.

    In two weeks, the state will begin offering $25,000 to anyone who buys a home, as long as they pay 1 percent of the total cost and live in it. Landlords or speculators aren't eligible.

    Part of a $263 million grant given to Michigan and other states under 2008's Housing and Economic Recovery Act, the funds are intended to help buyers bring trashed properties up to code, according to Mary Townley, a director with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

    She and other housing officials CNN spoke with said Michigan's economy has some extremely frustrating woes. A report from the nonprofit think tank Brookings Institution said Detroit had the lowest performing economy out of 100 U.S. cities it analyzed -- scoring the worst in unemployment and average wages, the highest foreclosure rates and the lowest market value homes.

    The artists in BanglaTown are careful to say they are not looking to change a city. Their goal is simply to improve a neighborhood, one house at a time.

    New neighbors, freelance photographer Corine Vermeulen-Smith and her husband Zeb Smith, a designer, are always checking out FreeCycle Media: FreeStuff and CycleStuff, where a stainless steel kitchen sink can be bought for $65.

    The Smiths bought their 660-square-foot home for $549.99 from Cope and Reichert, who originally purchased the foreclosed home for $500. "We knew the property, we knew it had been sitting there empty for at least a year, and it had been trashed," Vermeulen-Smith said. "But we wanted to own a home."

    All the copper in their "micro-home" had been ripped out, as well as every electrical outlet, Vermeulen-Smith said. Trash had to be hauled out in several loads.

    "You have to get over that fear that the house had that history, that you're going to be a victim of a crime or something," she said. "Crime is everywhere. My husband and I have lived in the city for a long time; we know that people look out for each other here. We don't have that kind of fear."

    Careful not to entice thieves again, the Smiths replaced the copper with plastic. They are considering taking the home completely off the grid by installing a mini-wind turbine, but for now they are happy to put in the basics.

    A bathtub from Habitat for Humanity cost them $100. And Zeb Smith, who works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, brings home wood the museum would otherwise toss when installations close.

    "This is, for us, very exciting to believe that we could totally reinvent a space," she said, "and prove that having a home isn't about having money
    Really interesting :D
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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    I read that yesterday and don't think I would buy one for $1. First you have all of the criminals and thugs already there, and now you have the artists moving in.
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    I know ALL about Detroit, and it's a nice place to be FROM...
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    Senior Member Array ErikGr7's Avatar
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    Wow!

    Well I wouldn't mind to buy a house for that low price.
    I know its in Detroit but, you could always use it as a
    vacation home...drive up into Canada etc

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    Distinguished Member Array Bunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morintp View Post
    I read that yesterday and don't think I would buy one for $1. First you have all of the criminals and thugs already there, and now you have the artists moving in.
    Hey! What's wrong with the artists?
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    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    I live a mile from the city, and I have to admit that I've thought about getting one of those. If I didn't have kids, I probably would. Even so, I still ponder buying an entire city block and turning it into my own little world.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    First you have all of the criminals and thugs already there, and now you have the artists moving in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunny View Post
    Hey! What's wrong with the artists?
    Low-hanging fruit ... in the sense of being targets of opportunity. At least, that's how I read it. Perhaps that's being generous. Still, criminals love colorful people.
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    Distinguished Member Array Bunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Low-hanging fruit ... in the sense of being targets of opportunity. At least, that's how I read it. Perhaps that's being generous. Still, criminals love colorful people.
    *coughs politely* Mr. Bunny is an artist.
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    WOW.. You cannot buy a cardboard box under a bridge in a wash out here for $100.... But then again, it is Detroit,.

    Love the post that said "Detroit is a good place to be FROM!!!".... Amen to that...

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    Senior Member Array mi2az's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErikGr7 View Post
    Wow!

    Well I wouldn't mind to buy a house for that low price.
    I know its in Detroit but, you could always use it as a
    vacation home...drive up into Canada etc
    You have to have lived in Detroit to understand that 100.00 is still not worth it. You could never leave it because everything would be stolen and it would turn into a crack house.
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    Senior Member Array TucAzRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mi2az View Post
    You have to have lived in Detroit to understand that 100.00 is still not worth it. You could never leave it because everything would be stolen and it would turn into a crack house.

    Yep.. And drive by shootings are all too common,... So you would have to bullet proof the house for sure,... Then after that you would get shot the one time you tryed to get the mail.... Ya,.. $100 still isnt' worth it at all..

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    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    Wow, "The D" has earned a tough image...
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    I was born and raised in Detroit, now live in the suburbs.

    Still call myself a Detroiter, (everyone in area does).

    But go into the city? Only the safe trip to the Joe for hockey or the ballpark.

    You are really outgunned when you travel there.

    Buy a $1 or $100 house? And have to to repairs? In Detroit?

    I'll pass!
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Have been through Detroit a couple times, some years back, before it really crashed to ruin. I won't go again, with it being far worse now than it was then. That so many won't even purchase a $100 home shows that the sentiment isn't unjustified.

    "Urban renewal" is the term bandied about, in decades past. def Renewal: to start over, refurbish.

    Seems to me the opposite situation has been reached, the point where it's simpler to finish, kill, halt or stop a thing.

    IMO, much of Detroit could be better used by plowing it under and starting over. On the bright side, that could be a project employing tens of thousands of otherwise out-of-work folks to assist in their own renewal.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    Senior Member Array BradyM77's Avatar
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    Detroit, it is time......
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