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Photos: The Lonely Homes Tour

If there's any city that symbolizes the most extreme effects of the nation's economic crisis and, in particular, its housing crisis, it is Detroit. The median home sale price here has plunged from $59,700 in August 2005 to $8,000 just two months ago. Home sales in the city of Detroit fell 20% between September 2008 and September 2009.

Residents of one of Detroit's last middle-class neighborhoods, Indian Village, recruited a real estate agent to aggressively sell foreclosed properties. The result: The Lonely Homes Tour.

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  • 1

    The picture you show for needing significant rehab doesn't look bad at all. You really need to learn about some of the preservation projects, including MAJOR commercial properties, that have taken place around here. One example is what's now the opera house - at the time that project started the entire basement of the place was filled with water feet deep!

    While Preservation Wayne's renowned theater tours are only twice a year and most of their other tours are over for the season, they are doing tours by appointment in October.

    The Detroit Historical Society also offers Behind the Scenes and Historic Houses of Worship tours (though the latter is currently sold out).

    Tours like these can show you not only where we've been but can also make a little more obvious what we can do and what's important to us.

    You should also check out Second Baptist in Greektown and First Congregational on Woodward for some local Underground Railroad history.

    Learn to see the people instead of the dollar signs when you look at buildings. Instead of being distracted by the easily replaced broken windows learn to see the skill and attention put into the beautiful craftsmanship of the wood-, brick-, tile-, and stonework.

    SEE the city, FEEL the people, and stop trying to apply by force the models learned in more sterile and money driven American cities.

  • 2

    This used to be an upper class neighborhood, not a middle class neighborhood...about 15 years ago we used to head down here & look at all the nice houses & wonder what rich people lived in them. I come from a middle class family & our house wasn't half the size of these beauties!!

    • 2.1

      Modern perceptions have become really warped over the last 30 or so years of easy money and disregard of historical knowledge. Prevalence (the norm?) in recently built housing seems to be monster-sized footprints with horribly shoddy workmanship and cheap materials.

      Many people would keel over after learning that the average sized house in the US at the end of WWII was only 945 square feet. And remember, home ownership used to be a dream, not a given.

  • 3

    Agreed that the rehab house isn't even *close* to bad, even in Indian Village (although I'd guess there is crazy mildew/mold or structural issues).

    Where $8k is the current sale price and $59k was the price in 2005, I would love to know where TIME paid NINETY-NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS for a house in Detroit with today's pricing. Did they buy the Manoogian Mansion or something? :) Maybe they bought a city block.

    TIME reporters should talk to the 20-somethings who are working in the city and who choose to live both in and out of the city limits. They are future Detroiters (even if they currently live in Royal Oak or Ferndale), and it would be nice to know what they think.

  • 4

    I agree that this is NOT Detroit's "last middle class neighborhood". There are other areas of Detroit, like the University District, where homes are more affordable (and much smaller) than those in Indian Village. Middle class Detroiters who hold good jobs and maintain their properties live in places like this.

    One of the main reasons Indian Village has lonely homes right now is the taxes! A home that may now be listed at $60,000 still appraises for the value it was three years ago, say around $300,000. (Never mind that a couple of blocks to the north you hit Mack Avenue and everything is in ruins - the houses in this neighborhood still appraise very high.) Likewise, taxes on this $60,000 property remain around the assessed value, so you end up paying $13,000/year in taxes on a house you didn't pay that much for! It's crazy, and it's keeping a lot of young prospective buys - who would be a huge asset to the city - out of this wonderful neighborhood.

    Indian Village is not a middle class neighborhood, nor will it ever be. Maybe some further investigation should be done around the city to see what else is out there? It's a large city with a lot of area and a ton of diversity. We're excited to host Time in our city, get out there and explore what else it has to offer!

  • 5

    [...] Yes, it is that nice. (And it is home to some of the city's finest citizens…more on that later.) The streets are wide and lined with trees. The homes are stately yet cozy. Everything there feels green and calm. It is an oasis in an otherwise chaotic city. (More on See photos of Indian Village homes) [...]

  • 6

    Parhelion, Your comment betrays a bit of ignorance about urban America; Detroit in particular. Like any major city that covers a huge geographic area, there are areas where homes sell for next to nothing and there are other areas where homes can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prior to the downturn in the economy, there was a home sale in Indian Village of $1M with many others in the $300-$700 thousand dollar range. In addition to Indian Village, there are other areas like Palmer Woods, Boston-Edison and Rosedale Park where home prices can climb quite high. Yes, the real-estate bust has hurt us but, while we may be down, we're not out for the count. We will resurrect ourselves as we always do.

  • 7

    [...] Real Estate Tour of Detroit's Indian Village – The Detroit Blog … Oct 13, 2009 … If there's any city that symbolizes the most extreme effects of the nation's economic crisis and, … [...]

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