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What It's Actually Like To Buy A $500 House In Detroit

Yes, you can actually buy a house for $500. And it could be the best thing you’ll ever do. Or the worst.

There's a lot of buzz about cheap real estate in Detroit: how much there is, how to get it, and who actually should.

1. A $500 house never actually costs $500.

2. There are multiple public agencies that run property auctions in Detroit.

3. Houses get to auction when an owner fails to pay the property taxes or the mortgage for a set period of time.

4. A house can be foreclosed on and repossessed based on taxes the owner doesn’t even technically owe.

5. Depending on the auction, the $500 home you buy might still have someone living in it.

6. You should visit the property you're going to buy before you actually purchase.

7. Even if it's vacant, you can’t buy an auction home and move right in.

8. If you buy a house from the Detroit Land Bank, you have six months to get it up to code and occupied.

9. But Detroit is not a place for quick-turnaround investment properties.

10. And absentee landlords or investors are not welcome.

11. You'll need a lot of time and/or money to fully rehab a house.

12. But even houses in bad shape have architectural details worth saving.

13. When renovating: If it can kill you, you should probably hire it out.

14. You can accidentally buy an auction house.

15. If you’re willing to put the time and money in, you can find yourself in a lovely home (or making a pretty decent profit).

16. Any house you buy is a real piece of Detroit's history.