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Urban Remodeling Trends in Detroit, MI

by Jon Nunan

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In and around downtown Detroit, fixer-uppers are a tempting purchase for many a curious investor. Many older neighborhoods built during the city's hey-day have desirable locations, but are simply too run down to be considered "turn-key" properties. However, with the right home improvements, Detroit's less-than-perfect dwellings can indeed become beautiful (and valuable) again. If you are thinking about purchasing a Detroit fixer-upper, here are a few helpful hints that will help make your decision to buy (or not to buy) a more informed one.

Detroit Fixer-Uppers: What to Look for
The most desirable properties in any city have several things in common, and knowing these traits will make it easier to find better investment properties in Detroit. Home improvement is a fine way to spruce up a property, but if it is in the wrong location, no amount of paint or plaster is going to make a difference. The best investment properties are near the things that people need to get to. A building that is near jobs, commerce, and business is likely to be a commodity for as long as those factors remain in place.

Once you've found a location you feel is suitable, you want to take a good look at the building itself and examine what it has to offer. One rule many real estate investors stand by is this: historical buildings never go out of style. While you don't necessarily need a historical society's stamp of approval on the home you purchase, older structures are something to be on the lookout for. If an older structure is able to be brought up to modern living standards, it is often a more desirable property than something that is brand new (and less expensive to create, too).

Detroit Home Improvements that Pay Off
For older buildings in Detroit, home improvements that bring the building up to speed are the ones most likely to pay off. While in some other cities luxury features like natural stone flooring or whirlpool tubs might be the ticket to investment success, reason suggests that keeping things solid and simple are good bets for Detroit. Fixer-uppers are typically inexpensive properties, and as some previous production-side gentrification in Detroit has shown, throwing a ton of money into one can be a mistake (at least in the short term). Less luxurious projects that keep the structure sound, functional, and possibly add a hint of affluence, on the other hand, will make a property easy to live in without costing you a fortune. Instead of installing $5,000 counters, opt for cheaper models and use the difference to upgrade lighting or plumbing fixtures; rather than replacing old ceramic tile with natural stone, have the tile polished and regrouted at a fraction of the cost. You get the picture!

Are Detroit Home Improvements and Fixer-Uppers Good Investments?
No one can say with any certainty what the future will hold for any city; that goes double for a city like Detroit. Home improvements are excellent investments at times, and when remodeling a fixer-upper that you bought for a song falls within one of those times, you'll see an incredible return. No major American city has yet turned into a complete ghost town; the chances are, if you wait long enough, modest improvements and real estate investments in any major city will eventually pay off. That being said, Detroit is not yet the kind of place where a high percentage of properties can be "flipped" for a huge profit with only a few minor alterations. However, when true revitalization does come to urban Detroit, fixer-upper owners and home improvers who have held on to their properties are likely to be delighted, to say the least!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.