Market Watch Detroit – You Can’t Keep Motown Down



Detroit, Michigan has a history of firsts. For example, the Packard Motor Car Company, in 1939, made the first air-conditioned car. Appropriate, wouldn’t you say for the town known the world over as “Motor City”?

The first zoo in America designed to house animals in open air exhibits, allowing them room to roam was the Detroit Zoo.

In 1879, the first telephone customers in the country to have their own, assigned phone numbers were…you guessed it, Detroit customers.

Detroit real estate

Motown's on its way back up. Image courtesy hillaryfox @ istockphoto

So a town, established in the 18th century and full of historical landmarks such as Ste. Anne de Détroit, the “oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic Parish” in the country, and Ford Motor Company’s historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant should enjoy a strong, robust economy, right?

Perhaps, but recovery has been spotty at best. Detroit used to be home to many large car manufacturers, but everyone, (rock dwelling citizens excluded) knows that the automotive industry has been hit, and hit hard by a number of blows – foreign car competition, gas prices, regulations – pick your reason, a fact that has negatively impacted Detroit’s real estate market.

The last quarter reveals that median sales prices were at $70,018 – an increase of 4.4% when compared to the 2nd quarter of 2011, and a decrease of 1.2% from the same time in 2010.

The price per square foot for Detroit homes, on average is a very affordable $70 – a number which has remained the same from the same time last year. With normal seasonal adjustments this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Neighborhoods which are growing and/or reflect an increased interest are Palmer Woods, Detroit Golf, Morningside, Sherwood Park, North Rosedale Park and Warrendale. Listing prices for these communities average between less than $40,000 up to approximately $331,000.

Downtown Detroit’s economic base has shifted from being primarily automotive centered to an entertainment focused region, with the creation of 3 casino resort hotels, a revitalized waterfront and new stadiums.

Other positive signs for “America’s Comeback City” include the purchase of abandoned automotive plans which have been re-purposed to fit a variety of venues – residences, offices, research centers and even schools or colleges.

Detroit has a lot of fun things to see and do. For a bit of sporting luck, residents and tourists alike can visit downtown casinos, or sports fans can watch the Detroit Lions play in Ford Field, and/or enjoy a fast paced game by NBA Championship winners, the Detroit Pistons.

There are a lot of public schools in Detroit which are rated very poorly by parents on Trulia, perhaps explaining why there are so many charter and private schools options available. A few of the bright spots include Edison Elementary School, Voyaguer Academy, and Giving Tree Montessori School, among many others.

Investors and home buyers alike will be pleased at the low prices for homes in the Detroit area, however a careful analysis of the neighborhood of interest, including factors such as employment generators, proximity and quality of amenities, schools, etc. need to be considered before buying. This is not a market for the timid or the foolhardy.