Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Reddit thread about a New Yorker buying houses in Detroit is basically the worst thing ever

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 12:36 PM


New Yorkers might not exactly be flocking to Detroit in droves (yet), but enough of them seem to be talking about it. The "Move to Detroit" meme has gained traction in recent months, as evidenced by a recent Al Jazeera video in which young New Yorkers parrot lines like "you can basically live for free" and other bullet points from the media narrative when asked if they would move to Detroit. 

Over on Reddit, a New Yorker who goes by the handle JHCPI got hip to Great Detroit Gold Rush and outsourced a pair of simple questions last week:

Hey all,

A buddy and I have been looking to throw around some money and maybe put it into some property. We've seen that some of the homes in Detroit are selling for as low as 10 grand a piece, and were thinking of fixing them up. Two quick questions that are somewhat related:

• What type of small businesses does Detroit need?

• Where are some good places to look at for fixer-uppers in Detroit?

Thanks again, folks. I appreciate any help!

Of course, nothing is so simple, and it wasn't long before people came forward with logistics of being a long-distance landlord in Detroit: You need to have a tenant, or else risk the house repeatedly getting scrapped. A security system would require electricity, which many of Detroit's $10k "fixer-uppers" don't have. And good luck trying to get a place in a trendy neighborhood like Midtown or Woodbridge. 

Eventually, someone quipped "Outsource slumlord millionaire," to which JHCPI snapped back:

I'm not looking to be a slumlord or get rich, or whatever you're implying. Why are so many of you hostile to someone asking about possibly purchasing a home which is broken down, repairing it, and maybe renting it out/moving into it? Is money not wanted in Detroit? Is purchasing a home from a local real estate agency and repairing it with products bought in Detroit from Detroit-based sellers some terrible sin against your city?

Another user chimed in. "It's not hostility, it's reality," he wrote. "It's not an easy task and it's kind of insulting when people from other parts of the country think they can come in, buy 'cheap' homes and the money will just roll in. If it were easy, we'd all be doing it."

Another user:

You're no different from all the other faux remote investors looking to make a buck under the guise of "doing good" savior bullshit. Most of you are all talk anyway. Look, on the remote chance you're serious let me save you some time: you're not wealthy enough to make any real money here without being here and you certainly don't care about anyone or anything here because you're not here. Go flip property somewhere else.

The thread eventually dissolved into Star Wars references (perhaps as all Reddit threads eventually do) — but not before someone linked to this 2014 essay by Louisville writer Dana McMahan, who chronicled the trials and tribulations of buying a Detroit house with her husband on a whim after visiting the city.

Choice quote: "Profound problems that erupted over decades don’t disappear when a hipster clicks his heels three times."

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