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Margarita Barry's New Home: An Under $10K Auction Score!

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We get pretty excited when people of style buy real estate in Detroit. Hence, we think Margarita Barry's recently purchased home which she bought in last month's foreclosure auction is going to lead to exciting new things in the local world of interior design. Barry runs 71 POP, a collaborative pop-up retail space in the Sugar Hill arts district that has plenty of awesome art for a new homeowner. She's also the person behind I Am Young Detroit, the site that profiles the young and accomplished in the city. But the most promising reason to think her new home is going to rock is an upcoming venture called Bohomodern. The store will carry new and vintage homewares as well as women's clothes; it now exists only online but will open as a storefront in midtown Detroit next year.

Curbed Detroit interviewed Barry about her new home; she has not been inside yet!

C Det: Is this your first time buying in the foreclosure auction? Is this the only house you bought?
MB: I was reading an article in The Detroit News about a couple who bought their foreclosed home back in a prior county auction and a light bulb went off in my head. I’ve always wanted to own my own home, but didn’t think it would be possible at this time of my life—a 20-something struggling entrepreneur putting a lot of time, money, and resources into various ventures and startups that I’m passionate about. This opportunity was something I wasn’t going to pass up, so I sent in my deposit to participate right away. After that things just kind of fell into place as I got in touch with a foreclosure auction vet [Curbed Contributor Jon Zemke] who gave me insight into the process and took advantage of resources like the Why Don’t We Own This website to discover the best neighborhoods and properties that would suit me. My first time participating, I was outbid by an auction veteran who would become a mentor of sorts the second (winning) time around. I had already begun saving up for a house, and ended up paying under 10k for the house; I only bought the one to live and grow in.

C Det: How did you select this one? Have you ever been inside it? Can you tell us what neighborhood this is in?

MB: There are several different reasons I chose these digs. It’s located in an area that I’ve lived in for most of my adult life—in the Northwest Corner of Detroit, near Old Redford. My brother moved into a house just blocks away with his family, and my best friend lives right across the street from the house I purchased; he’s renting it from a woman who spends most of the year in Paris and I knew he could keep an eye on it for me. Though not glamorous or trendy by any means, it’s a diverse neighborhood with lots of families, parks, restaurants, and is close to public transport. It’s cool to see kids playing outside, people riding bikes, and just enjoying life?really takes me back to growing up on the Westside, but is far enough from my childhood home that it feels like a new adventure. Most of the houses were built in the 1920’s, I’ve been inside quite a few of them—they have good bones and great curb appeal. I also love how lush it is over here, lots of big trees, wooded areas, and parks nearby.

C Det: When will you get to go in the house for the first time? Do you know how much renovations will cost? Do you plan to move in soon?

MB: So far I’ve met with the previous inhabitant and he’s currently staying there. We’re still working out the details on when I’ll finally get to move in, but I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later. I haven’t gotten a chance to see inside yet, but it’s safe to assume some kind of renovation will be involved even if minimal. I’ll be keeping a renovation blog over at Apt313.com with photos and updates—all positive thoughts and feedback are encouraged!

C Det: What would you tell someone planning to buy in the auction next year that you wish you had known before?

MB: I think it’s a great opportunity, but it’s not without its challenges...I'm still learning along the way. Those interested should keep in mind that many of the properties won’t be move-in ready. If the previous owners weren’t able to keep up with tax payments, then it’s likely there are other things that have been neglected as well. Sight unseen, your American Dream could quickly turn into a nightmare if the fixer-upper needs more fixing up than expected. The first house that I bidded was completely gutted down to the studs, which would have been a nightmare for me had I won it! Also be prepared for added drama if there’s someone living in the place, as it’s up to you to communicate with them and evict if necessary. You’re also responsible for the year’s taxes and maintenance of the property. All in all, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with winning an auction so do your research first—find a “county auction vet”, peruse helpful websites, visit the neighborhood, talk to neighbors, ask smart questions, be safe if you go snooping, and be respectful and compassionate to its current inhabitants/neighbors, all of these things can go a long way!


Earlier this week, Barry posted new photos of the goods at 71 POP that will be available through December. We're thinking they are the perfect place to start building a collection for all that new space. · 71 Pop [Official]
· Bohomodern [Official]