DETROIT and MICHIGAN (#1 Defender answers questions)

115 Replies

@Matt Castle @Julian Buick @Bob E. @Hugh C. @Joe Cummings @Don Johnston @Gina Dovel @Joel Owens    @Joe Villeneuve @Grace Ng @Stephen Lovett @Michael S. Michael S.

 

I Live in Detroit. I proudly live in Detroit. But for the past couple of threads about my fine city I’ve stayed silent to see which direction it would go; but I’m back to answer any questions you may have about Detroit or Michigan. I’ll also answer some of the questions that weren’t completely answered or defended in other threads. I tagged the people that have asked me questions.

What do you think of Michigan

What do you think of Detroit?

Details from old thread. This is my house.

@Rob Anderson

@Richard Dunlop I will say, in private messages between Richard and I he has proved that he purchased the house above for 16,000. What I believe is in question though Richard is not the purchase price but your appraisal price. Although Zillow estimate is 282,826 there is no house around, that has sold for even half that. In addition there are houses within blocks that have sold, and are selling for 1,000 dollars. Although I see no Immediate benefit for you right now. I do see TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL upside in your purchase if the market rebounds the way it should and wish you the best of luck!! I will keep in touch and look forward to what is ahead.

This is a house that just sold in my Neighborhood

Also please don't confuse vacant lot sales with house sales. And also inside family sales to try and get the high property taxes lowered.

I agree with Richard in that select parts of Detroit have substantial upside. But I will say that other parts are abysmal. 

Every city is like this: from San Fran to Indy to NYC. However, I will say Detroit Proper, due to the credit bubble, auto sector implosion, etc., etc., seems to have a greater than national average citywide percentage of abysmal areas that most other cities. 

Therefore, if you fancy yourself an investor, and you want to invest inside Detroit city limits, you better know Big D like the back of your hand AND have a property management team who will go above & beyond the call of duty. If you don't have these two must have items, then you're quite literally gambling in a five-figure card game. 

And gamblin' ain't investin', folks. 

Originally posted by @Matt Castle :

I agree with Richard in that select parts of Detroit have substantial upside. But I will say that other parts are abysmal. 

Every city is like this: from San Fran to Indy to NYC. However, I will say Detroit Proper, due to the credit bubble, auto sector implosion, etc., etc., seems to have a greater than national average citywide percentage of abysmal areas that most other cities.... 

Most of what you say has merit but it can be interpreted in a different light Detroit sunk lower and is now coming back faster creating excellent opportunities for the small investor.

I have never suggested buying from out of state and then trying to hire a PM.

It takes MORE than a PM but Detroit is a market where you could give away 80% of the deal and still make a fortune.

HINT: If you bought a Turn key property in Detroit you probably gave away MORE than 80% of the deal and didn’t even know it!

Gee thanks for the merit comment. 

Vast majority of BP folks I've read and corresponded with in last 3-4 years are out of state or out of country investors. Lots of investors live in Detroit Metro and a select few of those actually live in Detroit Proper, but, by in large, the folks I've interacted with over the past few years here on BP are non-locals. 

So while Detroit has some excellent opportunities for the small investor, they also have an excellent opportunity of thieves kicking in the front door and helping themselves to anything of value (ex: one of mine right across street from Grosse Pointe Park) or squatters moving in on your dime. 

Excellent opportunities... excellent risks too. 

I know firsthand b/c: 

  • I've had private conversations with Detroit investors who need assistance finding their property manager who suddenly went MIA costing them $20,000+. And not just one. Multiple investors. 
  • I've had out of state investors try to sell me their props b/c they've lost most of their $$ and they simply want out of the game b/c their home was looted, PM went MIA, squatters took it over, tenant moved out in the middle of the night and squatters moved in a few days later. All while they're paying taxes & insurance on it. 
  • My PM has several investors from Israel or Thailand who got talked into buying a $5,000 property for $50,000. Completely stupid move on their part. But that's the kind of market Detroit currently is. 

And none of this is made up stuff from headlines. This is stuff I or my PM have personally dealt with.

I've personally been able to avoid most of the lows b/c I'm constantly in a semi-state of paranoia -- Only the Paranoid Survive as Andy Grove would say -- but Detroit Proper is far from prime territory for the beginning and/or small real estate investor. 

HAHAHAHAHAHA what a joke.

#1 yes you have a big house.  What neighborhood is it in?  That house is worthless as a rental house.  You bought that house to live in.  That's not an investment that is where you reside.

#2 Detroit is good for flippers.  Not for rentals.  The house you live in would be a nightmare for a rental property.  Why would someone rent that huge house and have to pay to heat it in the winters.

How many more properties do you have?  If you have none than you are clueless as to the real world in Detroit.

The second picture looks like its in Corktown to me.  Corktown is completely different type of neighborhood compared to Detroit.

I have been the opposite of you.  I have saved BP member thousands in the last year.  I have invited them in and have given them tours of the good the bad the ugly.  I also show them our great suburbs when you can buy a house for 35-40k and get 800-900 a onth for rent.  I know that for a fact (I Have a few of them)

I show them just how much 3 miles means in these types of cities.  LOL the NYer's and Cali guys get a little skittish when I tell them its ok I have my guns with me.

How many people have been killed this last week.  I lost count after 10.  You can't even cut your grass or get gas in the city without getting shot.

I speak the truth.  This is the way it is.  Crime is out of control in the city.  The biggest problem with Detroit is the Detroiter's.

I am glad you picked up a good deal and its good for the neighborhood that you are living there and giving it a go but don't blow smoke up people's rears. 

I would buy all the vacant lots up behind the Motor City Casino as I think that's the next section that would be easiest to rebuild 

@Scott K.

Wow!

First off thanks for participating in my thread

I purposely tagged all the people I could that have criticized Detroit. Your post raises a lot of issues so I’m going to answer them all (about ten) one at a time.

I guess the obvious answer is I'm glad you hate Detroit. I'm glad lots of people hate Detroit. I would wish you could forward your post to every bank in the country. If I can keep the REO disposal agents at the bank hating Detroit then I will keep making lots of money.

I will make more than $1,000,000.00 in the next year because lots of people hate Detroit. I couldn’t do it in any other market in the country. I proudly live in Detroit. Detroit has been very good to me

Greetings.  There is a lot of Detroit bashing that happens on BP and it really doesn't bother me either.  I have homes around the area, mostly in the suburbs.  But in the last 6 months, I purchased three properties, two of which are in Detroit.  I have also managed a duplex in Detroit for the past 10 years.  You do have to know what you're doing to invest here.  But isn't that true anywhere?  Would anyone buy a house in any city without understanding the neighborhood/ block/ street first?  Richard, I agree that I wouldn't want to be an investor in any other Metro area.  The general public's negative attitudes toward this region are actually part of the reason we have this opportunity.

248‑397‑4880 | http://www.lovettproperties.com

Originally posted by @Stephen Lovett :

Greetings.  There is a lot of Detroit bashing that happens on BP and it really doesn't bother me either.  I have homes around the area, mostly in the suburbs.  But in the last 6 months, I purchased three properties, two of which are in Detroit.  I have also managed a duplex in Detroit for the past 10 years.  You do have to know what you're doing to invest here.  But isn't that true anywhere?  Would anyone buy a house in any city without understanding the neighborhood/ block/ street first?  Richard, I agree that I wouldn't want to be an investor in any other Metro area.  The general public's negative attitudes toward this region are actually part of the reason we have this opportunity.

Let me be clear here.

I am talking about and to the out of towners that think all these 5k properties are worth the money.  And as we all know that would be false.  The NYer's and Cal guys that see the prices and take a chance.  Those people are the ones buying into horrible properties because there are scumbag "turnkey" guys ripping them off.  I have dealt with the aftermath of this.  I try to help them but most of the properties are garbage.

No problem with the locals doing this.  Just don't lie and blow smoke up people's but.  A lot of you guys either fail to open your eyes or are dishonest.

How many people have been shot in the last week.  The police chief just told people not to stop for gas at night in Detroit.  This is the same guy that wants all law abiding citizens to be armed and learn how to protect themselves because it overwhelming to the police,

I don't mind being a cheerleader for Detroit but be honest a don't lie.  Also stop spewing that billionaires are investing and making money in Detroit.  That means nothing to the person with a few rentals.  People that spew that are dishonest idiots.

Happy investing

"That house is worthless as a rental house. You bought that house to live in. That's not an investment that is where you reside."

Currently rented for $4000 per month I moved to a bigger house.

In this thread I answered a question from a person that found a "good deal" in a bad area.

http://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/88/topics/191151-first-rental---4-rule-quick-opinions-needed

Originally posted by @Richard Dunlop:

Drive there in a Black Escalade with 24" wheels and see if the neighbors come running to you like kids to an ice cream truck.

@Zack Mitchell

I tried to convey a real idea in a humorous way. Sorry if you missed the implications.

I'm in Detroit, the fact that you wont ever have to go to the property yourself tells me that your hoping to pass off the physical risk of life or limb to your property manager. Detroit has Beverly Hills type homes less than 100 feet from total dumps (Indian Village) I've not seen that elsewhere.

The street and the neighbors make a big difference in the viability of your investment. Are your tenants doing the break-ins on your street?

Or are they the victims that will eventually give up?

When a unit is needing repairs will a reputable handyman go there?

Does he need an armed guard for his work truck while he is inside working?

I know more than most about the environment you describe. People try to paint all of Michigan like you portrayed your potential neighborhood. Metro Detroit has problems Yes but it also has SF houses that would sell for $10,000,000.00 in today's down market.

To summarize I would avoid areas in Detroit as you describe your area to be. But it could make a profit but the risk is not worth it. I have lots of Great areas to choose from but maybe you don't. Hope that helps.


@Scott K

Does that sound like someone that is advocating somebody should be buying properties in Detroit from halfway around the world?

Why do you keep pretending I do?

@Scott K

When I first bought properties in Detroit and told people I was moving up here, I was told by at least 10 different people that Detroit was the murder capital of the US. Does anybody not know crime is high? Most wouldn’t do what I do. But why are you pretending that I’m in anyway lying about it.

Detroit crime is high but it’s not going to fall off the edge of the earth tomorrow because IT’S ALREADY FALLEN OFF. It’s on the way back up.

@Scott K said

“Corktown is completely different type of neighborhood compared to Detroit.“

What a weird way to make my point for me

Corktown is Detroit; Indian Village is Detroit; Boston Edison is Detroit; Hubbard Farms is Detroit; Palmer Woods is Detroit. Downtown Detroit is Detroit. These are not separate cities as you seem to think. They are all parts of Detroit.

While you’re walking proud with your guns, I’m in Detroit; I live here; I don’t own a gun. I have never advocated anybody buying rentals in Detroit so I shot down your straw man argument without a gun.

I’ve climbed through broken windows to inspect a house the bank had listed more than once; you were cowering in fear in Madison Heights. (What Andy didn’t trust you with the bullet that day.)

I have forced squatters out of a house I didn’t own more than once; you were enjoying your Latte at Starbucks

I moved from Orange County California to Detroit because of the opportunities here. You were sleeping in that day; dreaming of the house on the beach you hope to retire to 50 years from now.

You can convince others it can’t be done on your 50 cent tours. But it’s really stupid of you to try and convince me. I’VE ALREADY DONE WHAT YOU THINK CAN’T BE DONE!

I will make more than $1,000,000.00 in the next year. I’m glad you hate Detroit.

Originally posted by @Matt Castle :
  • My PM has several investors from Israel or Thailand who got talked into buying a $5,000 property for $50,000. Completely stupid move on their part. But that's the kind of market Detroit currently is. 

Let me point out how different of perspective we're coming from: The property you're calling a $5000 house I'm buying for $1000 or less. And yes there are people buying them for $1000-$2500 and selling them to out of state investors for $40,000-$50,000. 

I said:        I have never suggested buying from out of state and then trying to hire a PM.

It takes MORE than a PM but Detroit is a market where you could give away 80% of the deal and still make a fortune.

HINT: If you bought a Turn key property in Detroit you probably gave away MORE than 80% of the deal and didn’t even know it!

With your $50,000 example maybe I should change it to you may have given away 98% of the deal and didn't even know it.

I'm glad you have a dependable PM and that your properties are doing well. Keep your paranoid nature its serving you well!

I'm an out of state investor in Detroit. We currently own 28 properties in the Phoenix metro are as well. As prices have gone up in Phoenix we started investing in Detroit. We currently hold 10 SFH's. We have remodeled and rent 2, we are currently working on #3 & #4. My properties are in NW Detroit which is nearby to Dearborn & Dearborn Heights. I have roughly 15k into the 2 that I have finished / rented. I am clearing just over $525 & $600 net rent on them. It has been my experience that the people that live in the area are solid and want / and are taking their neighborhood back. Duggan is also doing a great job as Mayor. I have seem a vast improvement in my area and as you travel around this is infrastructure repairs happening all over Detroit... it is game on in Detroit!

Originally posted by @Dan Mullins:

I'm an out of state investor in Detroit. We currently own 28 properties in the Phoenix metro are as well. As prices have gone up in Phoenix we started investing in Detroit. We currently hold 10 SFH's. We have remodeled and rent 2, we are currently working on #3 & #4. My properties are in NW Detroit which is nearby to Dearborn & Dearborn Heights. I have roughly 15k into the 2 that I have finished / rented. I am clearing just over $525 & $600 net rent on them. It has been my experience that the people that live in the area are solid and want / and are taking their neighborhood back. Duggan is also doing a great job as Mayor. I have seem a vast improvement in my area and as you travel around this is infrastructure repairs happening all over Detroit... it is game on in Detroit!

About 3 years ago I was looking at a house that a bank was trying to sell me, and a neighbor lady about 70-75 years old came out on her porch with a 22 rifle.  It was pointed up the whole time but she is tapping the butt on the porch while she is watching me.

I went over and talked to her and told her she was important to bringing Detroit back.

Best wishes on your Detroit properties.

Originally posted by @Richard Dunlop :
Originally posted by @Dan Mullins:

I'm an out of state investor in Detroit. We currently own 28 properties in the Phoenix metro are as well. As prices have gone up in Phoenix we started investing in Detroit. We currently hold 10 SFH's. We have remodeled and rent 2, we are currently working on #3 & #4. My properties are in NW Detroit which is nearby to Dearborn & Dearborn Heights. I have roughly 15k into the 2 that I have finished / rented. I am clearing just over $525 & $600 net rent on them. It has been my experience that the people that live in the area are solid and want / and are taking their neighborhood back. Duggan is also doing a great job as Mayor. I have seem a vast improvement in my area and as you travel around this is infrastructure repairs happening all over Detroit... it is game on in Detroit!

About 3 years ago I was looking at a house that a bank was trying to sell me, and a neighbor lady about 70-75 years old came out on her porch with a 22 rifle.  It was pointed up the whole time but she is tapping the butt on the porch while she is watching me.

I went over and talked to her and told her she was important to bringing Detroit back.

Best wishes on your Detroit properties.

 Thanks Richard, 

My first experience was a neighbor confronting me with a stun gun! We was protecting the house and keeping "scrappers" from stealing stuff and stripping the house... 

When I first came up here 6 years ago, I was surprised it wasn't 20% as bad as I expected based on news reports.

It's gotten better while some of the news have gotten worse.

@Scott K said:

"I don't mind being a cheerleader for Detroit but be honest a don't lie. Also stop spewing that billionaires are investing and making money in Detroit. That means nothing to the person with a few rentals. People that spew that are dishonest idiots."

Scott this one I don't get at all. There are people on this web site that post articles when a company invests $10 million in Detroit.

You don't think it's relevant to the discussion that Dan Gilbert has invested $1,700 million in the past 4 years???????

Or that the Ilitch Family (Little Ceasars Pizza ) and Penske Family have also slightly less recently invested????

Is that not good for Detroit?

Originally posted by @Jeff Rabinowitz :

@Richard Dunlop, the Renegade Detroit Investors meet at Corktown tomorrow night. Here is a link to the Facebook URL: Renegade Detroit Investors June meeting. Do you ever attend their meetings?

I haven't yet. But I did have tomorrow in my plans Corktown Tavern 6:PM I own several properties right there I can walk over.

Originally posted by @Scott K. :

"I would buy all the vacant lots up behind the Motor City Casino as I think that's the next section that would be easiest to rebuild"

 I'm in Detroit

 BECAUSE

I can buy beautifully built buildings for under 3% of the new construction cost. Quite often less than 1% of new construction cost.  Are you really suggesting that I should buy vacant property with the intent of building new construction.

Wouldn't that cost me 100% of new construction cost

+ the cost of the land

+ the hold time

+ loss of cash flow

+ opportunity cost of passed up deals

I'll stick with my strategy GOOD LUCK on yours.

(Parking lot might work but to anticipate future building is crazy for my budget and I think even more so for yours)

Originally posted by @Richard Dunlop :

@Scott K said:

"I don't mind being a cheerleader for Detroit but be honest a don't lie. Also stop spewing that billionaires are investing and making money in Detroit. That means nothing to the person with a few rentals. People that spew that are dishonest idiots."

Scott this one I don't get at all. There are people on this web site that post articles when a company invests $10 million in Detroit.

You don't think it's relevant to the discussion that Dan Gilbert has invested $1,700 million in the past 4 years???????

Or that the Ilitch Family (Little Ceasars Pizza ) and Penske Family have also slightly less recently invested????

Is that not good for Detroit?

No not really.  What does that do for the person that invest in the east side.  What Gilbert is doing has had no effect on the worse parts of the city.  That is what these out of state investors are being told.  How does all that money help a property at Davison/Lawton area?  How does that help Joy/greenfield.  How does that help John R/Nevada area.  All that money has done nothing to help any of the neighborhoods I just mentioned.

I just posted facts.  I know some people don't want to hear facts but that's not my fault

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