Battered Detroit Becomes a Hot Real Estate Market

Detroit has lost half its population since 1960 and has fewer than 700,000 residents. It is home to thousands of dilapidated houses that will be torn down. It has a program under which people can buy $1,000 homes. However, Detroit appears on the Realtor.com list of the hottest real estate markets for September — 14th on a list of 20.

Many of the cities on the list have been hot markets for years, largely because of good jobs in their areas, and consequently high home prices. San Francisco is at the top of the list. San Diego and San Jose also are near the top.

Detroit is one of several dilapidated old cities that were crushed by the Great Recession. These cities had been deserted by major employers, and jobless rates moved to double digits when the economy was at its worst. Among them, Grand Rapids, Michigan, is on the September hot list. So are Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio.

One reason some of these markets have “recovered” so much is that the Realtor.com measure includes metropolitan areas that reach beyond each city. Some of the Detroit suburbs are middle class. The Detroit metropolitan statistical area (a government measure) has 3.7 million residents. It includes Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan, and some wealthy sections of Oakland Country to the north. This includes the town of Orchard Lake.

Realtor.com explains the idea of the expanded cities beyond the city centers:

New to the top 20 this month is Grand Rapids, MI. Like other cities on the list, “Grand Rapids” includes the greater metropolitan area, which in this case takes in Wyoming, MI. Similarly, our No. 1 market, “San Francisco,” also includes nearby Oakland and Hayward.

A city is not always a city.

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