For Sale at $188, Is This America's Least Expensive House?

Flint, Mich., was one of the hardest hit cities before and during the recession. Once one of the state’s largest cities, and a prosperous one when auto production plants were there, it came under the control of an emergency manager, appointed by the governor, during two periods, long before Detroit did. While Detroit may be the home of the $1,000 house, one home in Flint is on the market for $188.

The house does not have much to recommend it. Located at 2518 Dakota Ave, it only covers 1,225 square feet, which accommodates three bedrooms and a single bath. It sits on a lot of just 5,663 square feet. The house was built in 1928, before the Great Depression.

The listing of the house on Realtor.com says it is a:

Fixer Upper Home, Needs lots of work, has major fire damage, seller selling AS IS

If Flint’s government could afford it, the house might be a candidate to be bulldozed into the ground to make way for a flat field that might be used for a garden, or for nothing at all. The house sits in a neighborhood with similar homes, just off Michigan’s Route 59 and not far from I-475, as if anyone might drive there.

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Flint’s population peaked at over 196,000 in 1960, according to the Census, and fell under 99,000 last year. The median household income in Flint is just above $27,000, compared to the national average of just over $51,000.

The economy is so badly broken that the local Flint newspaper, the Flint Journal, is only published three times a week.

Most cities battered by the recession and the collapse of the car industry have some chance of coming back. Not so for Flint. According to a Detroit Free Press evaluation of Flint:

Thirty years ago, it was the home of 14,000 workers, a sprawling complex of factories that churned out millions of auto parts a day for General Motors Corp.

By 2005, the city had almost been destroyed as more and more manufacturing moved away. The number of auto workers has fallen close to zero.

Is a house for sale for $188 even imaginable to most Americans? It might be when one around the corner is on the market for $210.

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