See Inside 3 Abandoned Detroit Homes up for Auction for $1,000

During a current journey to Detroit, I noticed many neighborhoods full of properties that had been dilapidated and boarded up.

An empty street with boarded up and abandoned homes on it.

Most streets in Detroit have deserted properties.

Frank Olito/ Insider

These deserted properties level to the town’s sophisticated previous.

Detroit was as soon as generally known as a metropolis of trade. In the mid-1900s, folks flocked to the Midwest for jobs within the auto trade, and the inhabitants boomed. In 1990, there were just over 1 million people calling Detroit dwelling, however by the flip of the century, that quantity started to drop. In 2000, there have been 951,270. Fast-forward to 2020, there at the moment are solely 670,031 people in Detroit. 

People left for quite a lot of causes, together with factories closing, racial tensions, white flight, and the 2008 housing disaster. 

As employment alternatives declined, some properties went into foreclosures because of unpaid taxes or mortgages, and so they had been left deserted. Today, a few of these buildings stay empty and now stand in ruins. 

In the final decade, the Detroit Land Bank Authority began auctioning off these deserted properties for as little as $1,000.

An abandoned home in Detroit with boarded up windows and doors.

An deserted dwelling in Detroit.

Frank Olito/ Insider

The Detroit Land Bank Authority is a corporation that works with the native authorities to promote these properties to patrons. In 2014, the City of Detroit, Wayne County, and the State of Michigan began transferring possession of the properties to the Land Bank. 

“It was an effort to consolidate a mass of publicly owned properties within the city of Detroit,” Alyssa Strickland, the assistant director of public relations and strategic initiatives on the Detroit Land Bank Authority, instructed me. 

The properties go up for public sale on the Lank Bank web site, beginning at $1,000. When the auctions shut, the common properties promote for just below $5,000, however some might attain $50,000. A purchaser is then anticipated to renovate and restore the house to livable requirements inside six months to make sure it does not stay deserted underneath the brand new possession. 

Strickland mentioned the majority of the Land Bank’s remaining stock is “modest, single-family homes under 2,000 square feet.”

I needed to enter the home by the again due to the damaged entrance porch and boarded-up entrance door.

detroit land bank authority house number one covered in greenery

The again of the home.

Frank Olito/ Insider

The vegetation in the back of the home was much more alarming than on the entrance. 

When I stepped inside, I entered a crumbling kitchen.

An abandoned kitchen with fire and water damage.

There was nothing left of the kitchen.

Frank Olito/ Insider

At that second, I noticed these properties aren’t simply deserted — they’re additionally utterly ruined by time and climate. 

The lounge was utterly boarded up and darkish.

An abandoned living room where the windows and door are boarded up.

The boarded up lounge.

Frank Olito/ Insider

The doorways and home windows on the primary flooring of every Land Bank home are boarded up, so nobody can break in and squat there. It’s a sensible transfer, however it undoubtedly added an eerie feeling to the weird home-buying expertise. 

On the second flooring, I discovered two bedrooms, however the partitions had been utterly black from a previous hearth.

detroit land bank authority room with black walls and holes

There had been holes within the flooring and partitions.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Each of the rooms had holes within the flooring, partitions, and ceilings. 

The rest room was torn to items. At this level, I noticed simply how a lot work it might take to deliver one in every of these properties again to its former glory.

dilapidated bathroom at a house detroit land bank authority

The rest room.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Strickland mentioned patrons should attempt to end renovating earlier than the six-month deadline, however the Land Bank is lenient. 

“The vast majority of our buyers require an extension,” Strickland mentioned. “That’s fine as long as they continue to make progress on the property.” 

Otherwise, the Land Bank reserves the suitable to take the property again from the homeowners. 

The second home I visited simply offered for $5,000.

Detroit land bank authority yellow house with boarded up windows

The exterior of the second dwelling.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Although the home windows had been boarded up, the home appeared in a lot better form than the primary one. 

Once inside, I discovered a kitchen with no home equipment, counter tops, or perhaps a ceiling.

kitchen in detroit land bank authority

The kitchen.

Frank Olito/ Insider

In the suitable nook, there have been drugs everywhere in the flooring, and so they continued all through the remainder of the home. 

The lounge was void of sunshine, however the hearth caught my consideration.

detroit land bank authority living room with fireplace

The lounge.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Although the home windows had been boarded up, I might nonetheless see the gorgeous hearth with leaves flowing out of it. For the primary time throughout my tour, I might simply see how the home may come again to life with this lovely, brick hearth as the point of interest of the room.

The paint alongside the staircase to the second flooring was peeling off the partitions.

detroit land bank authority staircase with peeling paint

The staircase to the second flooring.

Frank Olito/ Insider

I stepped on paint chips everywhere in the run-down home. 

The hallway on the prime of the steps was in horrible situation, too.

paint peeling in hallway of land bank authority in detroit

The hallway on the second flooring.

Frank Olito/ Insider

I imagined the cabinet on the finish of the hallway might simply be mounted up as a pleasant classic characteristic on this dwelling. 

In the bedrooms, the paneling had fallen off the partitions onto the charred flooring.

The bedrooms at detroit land bank authority

The bed room.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Although a lot of the bedrooms had been derelict, all three had been nice sizes. 

The rest room was in dangerous situation as effectively.

bathroom with pills on counter in detroit land bank authority house

The rest room.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Just just like the kitchen, the toilet had varied drugs scattered throughout the ground and counter tops. 

Back outdoors, the next-door neighbor mentioned this home has sat deserted for over 10 years.

a street in detroit with abanonded houses

Abandoned homes on the road.

Frank Olito/ Insider

He defined that he is lived on this block — which has a couple of deserted, boarded-up homes — for 50 years and watched as folks left the neighborhood. 

“We’re waiting for a new body of people who want to see change,” he mentioned. “Change is coming.”


The third home I visited was situated subsequent to a public college and simply offered for $94,000 after a bidding conflict through the public sale course of.

detroit land bank authority  exterior of house

The exterior of the third home.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Strickland mentioned the situation of this dwelling may need been the rationale for the worth to achieve over $90,000. 

The dwelling’s kitchen was simply as empty because the others I seen.

empty kitchen at detroit land bank authority

The empty kitchen.

Frank Olito/ Insider

At the very least, this kitchen had workable counter tops. 

The residing and eating rooms had been darkish areas, however that they had plenty of potential.

An abandoned living room at Detroit Land Bank Authority with boarded up window.

The lounge and eating room area.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Although the window was boarded up in the lounge, I used to be stunned by its huge dimension. I might think about pure mild flooding the room as soon as it is renovated into an open-concept dwelling. 

The hallway to the again bedrooms was drenched in an ominous blue mild.

blue hallway in a detroit land bank authority house

The blue hallway.

Frank Olito/ Insider

When I appeared up, I seen the whole roof was uncovered due to a fireplace, and a blue tarp was protecting the gaping gap above my head. As daylight got here by the tarp, it flooded the walkway with blue mild.

The again bedrooms had been mainly shells of former rooms.

bedrooms at detroit landbank authority

One of the again bedrooms.

Frank Olito/ Insider

The warning tape that hung all through the home made it really feel like I used to be strolling by a criminal offense scene.

After touring a few of the properties for sale, I met up with one lady who purchased a house by the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

Cynthia Reaves in her renovated kitchen

Cynthia Reaves in her renovated kitchen.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Cynthia Reaves runs JGA Property Group, a real-estate growth firm in Detroit, and determined to purchase a two-family dwelling within the Bagley neighborhood by the Land Bank.

In 2019, she purchased the home for $52,000 by the public sale course of however then obtained a 50% low cost as a result of her mom used to work for the town. 

During the public sale course of, Reaves mentioned she bumped into points.

renovated detroit land bank authority house

The renovated home.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Reaves mentioned she feels she was a sufferer of an investor group making an attempt to bid up the worth — she does not consider the house was value $52,000.

This is a typical criticism Detroiters have in regards to the Detroit Land Bank Authority. According to Curbed, many Detroiters have complained they can not purchase the properties they need within the neighborhoods they need by the Land Bank. Some Detroiters declare the Land Bank favors out-of-town traders and builders who value gauge the auctions. 

Strickland mentioned this is not the case. She mentioned, “Seventy-one percent of our buyers are Detroit residents at the time of purchase, 74% are Black, and 64% become homeowners through their Land Bank purchase.”

She added, “We’re very proud of how these numbers demonstrate that the Land Bank is succeeding in creating accessible pathways to home and property ownership for Detroiters.”

Reaves additionally mentioned the renovation course of can be troublesome for anyone with little to no expertise.

Reaves detroit land bank house before

The lounge of Reaves’ home earlier than renovation.

Courtesy of Cynthia Reaves

“There are very few people who can take on these projects and get them done according to the code,” Reaves mentioned. “You have to follow the city of Detroit code requirements, you have to follow the permit requirements, and for many individuals, that is a burden.” 

Strickland mentioned the Land Bank has developed applications to assist with these points. For occasion, they now supply reductions for sure Detroiters, and so they have partnered with Home Depot for unique reductions to assist offset the price of renovation. Strickland mentioned the compliance division additionally works carefully with dwelling patrons to navigate the difficult allow course of. 


After spending $75,000 on renovating and restoring the home, Reaves now rents it out to tenants.

renovated living room at a detroit land bank authority house

The renovated lounge.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Reaves prices her two tenants between $1,100 and $1,400 on hire.

“I love it because both of my tenants were so excited to have a house,” she mentioned. “They call it their forever home.”

Reaves’ house is one in every of greater than 4,200 properties bought by the Detroit Land Bank Authority that at the moment are renovated and occupied.

As I walked by the renovated home, I virtually forgot this dwelling was as soon as a dilapidated constructing.

renovated kitchen at a detroit land bank authority house

The renovated kitchen.

Frank Olito/ Insider

Even although Reaves needed to outbid an investor group, battle allow issues, and renovate on a good funds, she was in a position to flip this previously dilapidated home into an attractive dwelling and an incredible funding that she says in the end advantages the bigger metropolis of Detroit. 

“It’s important to the revitalization of the community,” Reaves mentioned. 

After touring these properties, I noticed the Detroit Land Bank Authority has the facility to form the way forward for Detroit — if it is completed proper.

An abandoned home with a renovated deck at detroit land bank authority.

A semi-renovated dwelling.

Frank Olito/ Insider

If the Land Bank continues to supply these deserted properties to Detroiters and assist them by the method, it might assist additional Detroit’s bigger revitalization course of. 

From the few properties I toured, I might see there’s potential in every of them — all that is wanted are people who find themselves prepared to show these homes into properties once more.

“Detroit is a very vibrant city. There are pockets of beauty and wonderful homes that people can have for reasonable prices. Where else can you buy a brick home for $1,000?” Reaves mentioned. “Come on in. The water’s fine.”

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