Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Low Rent District

A house for five hundred dollars?
That's the price for the home in the photo.
The drawback?
You gotta' live in Detroit.
And, unless you're a Red Wings fan, there are no good sports teams.
Okay, the Tigers are leading the dismal AL Central.
But in any other division, they'd be in third or forth.
With the Celtics, and Shaq joining LeBron in Cleveland, the Pistons won't make it past the Eastern Conference Finals any time soon.
The only thing losing more value than home prices in Detroit are the Lions.

But let's just say that you decide to join the artist's colony in the Motor City.
Or even that you'd like to become a slum lord - what do you do?

- Check the structure - not the aesthetics.
The value of the home will be in the stability of it's foundation, walls and roof.
As long as there is no structural damage, keep an open mind.

- Repair - don't patch.
If there is a problem with the plumbing, fix that problem.
If you need new wires - get new wiring.
Patching a problem as a short term fix usually leads to structural damage in the future.

- "Gaucho" at WalMart.
Paint your home (or homes) all the same colors.
Buy five gallons of "Gaucho" and five gallons of white in an exterior satin.
You can use exterior paint indoors too, and it's more durable.
Sure, periwinkle, sea foam green, cerulean or a burnt sienna might look nice - but keep it simple.
There is no use in having to keep twenty half-empty paint cans in your garage.
Just go with a neutral and a white.

- If you're remodeling/restoring more than one home at a time - do them in stages.
Schedule all of the trades (leveling, roof repairs, wiring or plumbing, etc.) in shifts.
People steal.
There is no need to have material sitting on a site.

- Go in order.
Foundation and leveling first.
Since the leveling process usually disturbs the roof and walls, they will be damaged if they are repaired before the house is leveled.
There is no use in having to have a roof or drywall repaired twice.

- Don't overbuild for your area.
Don't put $20,000 counter tops in a $10,000 home.
Keep it cheap.

- Take classes.
Lowes and Home Depot offer free classes in home repair.
The more you know - the less contractors can cheat you.

- Apply for a grant.
There are currently several government grant programs for people who buy and restore homes in depressed areas.
Why pay for something that you can get for free?

There are more helpful hints but these should get you started.
Good luck.

1 comment:

FreeMan said...

I'll definitely heed the word because I am currently doing that right now. I'm buying brick in the Midwest so it's been a learning and rewarding experience.