Pros and Cons of investing in Port Huron, Michigan?

15 Replies

I noticed a number of members from Port Huron, Michigan and I'm throwing this post out to any Port Huron or Michigan investors. I recently purchased a small seasonal rental in Lexington, Michigan (a beach town), and have been seeing alot of very good-looking deals in two-family homes near the Hospital and College campus in Port Huron: two-flats for under $70K, (average rents for 1/1 $550; for a 2/1 $650-750) low taxes, recent capital improvements,  BUT, I've also read alot of negative forums regarding crime, and the crime statistics for Port Huron are WAY higher (in certain parts of the City) than either the Michigan or the national average.

Anybody have any insight into what's going on in Port Huron, Michigan?  I spent alot of time driving around over the summer and it appears that it's experiencing a mini-boom, lots of old downtown storefronts, formerly vacant, now open with new businesses, a California company purchasing the local hospital (presumably for expansion), a very large community college, etc. 

Is it too good to be true?  Why all the landlords unloading property so cheaply? 

@Linda Reynolds  

For the sake of time I am going to recommend that if you would like to find 2/1 duplexes around 70k that rents for 600-650 per month per unit in Port Huron that you look in the Holland Woods Middle School area. This is a B neighborhood and should offer you stability while almost getting you the 2% rule. 

The area you are asking about could go either way in the next 5-10 years. If you were in the area or if you have someone that really knows the market in the area you could take that gamble and it may pay off but just as easily it could leave you selling for half of what you purchased it for in 5 years.

Now my final disclosure, BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING in Port Huron you need to go read the new zoning rules that the local government has passed that no longer allows rentals in certain neighborhoods as well as the landlording regulations that require rental certificates and inspections.

I do want to let you know that when I started investing in Port Huron in '09 I had hoped to buy bad houses in the Hospital / College area, fix them up and rent them to stabilize that community. I have 3 SFH in that area and I do not regret it however I no longer invest in Port Huron due to the new zoning laws and I would not recommend anyone else invest in Port Huron. If you like St Clair County please take another look at Fort Gratiot, Kimball, St Clair or maybe even Marysville. Lately my bet has been on Fort Gratiot as that area is expanding with new businesses and housing.

BTW are you from Port Huron area? I am only asking because I have some relatives with your last name :D

Thanks so much for your thoughtful and complete answer!  I can't tell you how much I appreciate the inside point of view and the suggestions.  The old adage that, "if it seems too good to be true, IT IS" holds true every time. I'm going to take a good long look at the new regulations/inspections/certification requirements. Before I even sent my post out there, I had a bad feeling about Port Huron, and started looking at Marysville and Fort Gratiot, based primarily on the low crime rates, and other demographics. 

No, not originally from Port Huron, I grew up in Plymouth (near Ann Arbor) but live in NYC now, and have a little summer place in Lexington. 

Hi everyone! I own several SFH in St Clair, but have been looking in Marysville, Marine City, Richmond, and beyond also. The problem is prices are so high! Even on the few and far between MF houses.

I was looking in Port Huron b/c of prices, but this post is helpful in clearing up my priorities. Keep it simple... better houses, better tenants, less headaches.... :) Good luck in your decisions!

My wife and I are looking to invest in St Clair County, and potentially move there in 2021. Like others, we've been attracted by the quantity and pricing of houses in Port Huron. My wife's brothers are in Ontario, so Port Huron looks attractive from that perspective as well. We're certainly interested in a bit of house hacking, and potentially in BRRRR if things are working well.

I see that the early postings and the zoning changes were from 2015, any thoughts or perspective four years down the road in 2019? Have the zoning and certification restrictions proven to be formidable? As a buyer of an existing multi-family, do we need to be concerned about "grandfathered" sellers whose rights will not easily convey to the next buyer? Do property managers play a large role in obtaining or maintaining certification?

Thanks, Martin and Hanna

Richard, Renee, Brad, you all seem experienced with the area. Your thoughts?

I don't invest in Port Huron (anywhere but if I'm being honest). I have heard Port Huron is making it harder for landlords to stay certified as a rental... I'm guessing they are trying to clean up the high numbers of rentals and convert to more SF owner-occupied housing. Yes houses are cheap, but crime is higher and rules are more strict. Not worth it for me. 

I mainly invest in Port Huron and have property in every area the city allows. I also have properties around at Clair and Sanilac county. Yes investing outside of Port Huron is easier once you find the deal but the money is good in Port Huron. Always good deals and a very high demand from tenants needing housing. Port Huron also has a lot of potential to grow if the city allows it. It's nice to see big money from outside being brought in in the past few years. It also has plenty of jobs for anyone looking to work in town but mostly blue collar jobs (which means a lot of people will remain tenants). It has unique potential being

an international boarder, a big part of it is an island, multiple express ways end here and big outside money lands in Port Huron before smaller areas surrounding Port Huron. As far as crime it's more then the surrounding areas but it's also a lot bigger than places like Lexington. It's very unlikely to get robbed, attacked, killed etc. Unless you're involved in drugs or fighting with family. If you live in the area give it a chance but if you're outside the county it may be better to look outside the city limits do to the city regulations unless you have a good manager. 

Thanks, Renee and Troy, I think from your differing perspectives you've done a great job of giving us the pros and cons of Port Huron. We currently live in Manassas, VA. According to bestplaces.net, we have a slightly lower violent crime rate here (38.5 vs 42.6 for Port Huron) and a slightly higher property crime rate (46.9 vs 39.5). On balance I think it's roughly similar.

We've lived here over 10 years on a fairly average street without any real issues, and have had a very healthy appreciation in the home value. So we would be fairly comfortable with the crime aspect. Even before we discovered Port Huron we discussed the benefit of buying in a blue-collar town, with tenants who likely will never be buyers; but at the same time want a clean, comfortable and stable place to raise their families. So Troy's point really resonates with us. We plan to go with a BRRRR strategy using quality but not luxury materials, so hopefully can attract good blue-collar tenants.

Seems like the property manager is really key, both to maintaining the rental certification and to screening for quality tenants. Macomb County is loaded with NARPM-affiliated property managers, but St Clair County not so much. Any tips on a good property manager?

Thanks,

Martin & Hanna

Martin Robb, If you are looking to move here I would probably wait until you are here to invest here. It's hard to find good managers here but we have a great landlord association (Port Huron Area Landlord Association aka PHALA). If you are here and join that group ($40 a year) you'll learn a lot, and make all the connections needed to do well. 

@Linda Reynolds

I own multiple self storage properties in St. Clair county as well as throughout the state. I love the area and feel that there is still great value to be found throughout the state, and specifically the Port Huron area.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here